Monday, March 5, 2012

Montessori Supply Storage

Pictures of shelves in my basement probably don't constitute the most exciting fare, but I have been asked several times recently if I would show where I am storing materials that are not on the school room shelves.  

Much, much earlier in our Montessori journey I posted about how I used a closet for this purpose in our previous home.  This was when the boys were in early primary, before I made several large materials orders, and when "culture materials" were barely a twinkle in my eye.

The previous owners of our new house walled off an area in the otherwise unfinished basement to be a "sewing room" of sorts.  My handy husband turned this space into a "Mommy Workshop" by adding a full wall of adjustable shelving for my Montessori needs.  Here is a peek at that space...don't panic when you see how many boxes I have.  Seven are empty for a planned reorganization of culture materials according to elementary subject instead of being lumped together under "culture."  Many of the boxes have only a few things in each one...I was more concerned about ease of use than saving space.

They boys call this "Mommy's Closet" because I am the only one remotely interested in dealing with what is in here.  The Montessori materials are on the wall to the right.  The wall to the left his stacked  18-gallon Rubbermaid bins full of Christmas decorations as well as hand-me-downs or rummage sale clothing finds for the boys in future sizes.  They are stored by size and season (winter versus summer).  

As you can see, I went with mostly bankers boxes for storage because they were cheap ($1 each at Walmart) .  If mice or water are a problem, I don't recommend them.  As it is, we've had one minor disaster in here.  This room is directly under the laundry room.  One day the laundry tub overflowed and it "rained" in here.  I've taken precautions against that happening again, but I'm still nervous.  That is why the materials on the floor, at least, are in plastic.

The little shelf is in there because I had it extra and it's nice to have a place to set things down.

The banker's boxes contain "unofficial" Montessori materials...that is, any materials that are homemade (like three-part cards, the ocean life mat, button snakes, etc.,) specimens (shells, bones, rocks...these are soon to be housed elsewhere), as well as purchased "non-Montessori" items like our model skeleton, life cycle models, rock collections, Snap Circuits, etc.,  The bins on the floor contain the types of materials you would buy from a Montessori equipment website. 

I label the front edge of the lid of each banker's box according to Montessori "subject":  language, math, culture, sensorial, and practical life.  I also have some bins labeled "Trays and Containers."  There are obviously several bins for some subjects.   So I can find things, I have a half-sheet of lined paper taped to the front of each box.  I have dreams of putting laminated paper on the front of these in the future and using a dry erase marker at some point in the future.  For now, it is just a really primitive but easy to use system in which I write the name on the list in pen or marker when I add something to the box and cross it off if I get rid of it.  Dry erase would be nice because I could mark things that are "checked out" with a temporary mark and erase rather than cross things out.

1.  These boxes at the top are labeled by season instead of by subject.  I have one for fall, spring, summer, December, and January/February.  This is where I keep things that I use to freshen up the school room for each season.  For example, the "January" box had snowman cards and counters, white  pom poms for "snowballs", foam peanuts for making igloos, snowflake buttons to use as markers in the language area.  The "spring" box has things like plastic eggs for hiding slips of papers with sight words on them, bunny tangram patterns, bunny pattern strips, etc.,  

2.  Empty baskets and boxes for putting things on the shelves.

3.  Materials we are done with and need to sell.

4.  The banker's boxes of supplementary materials.  You can also see my binding machine and a big brown box that contains a hand-me-down globe (normal, not Montessori) for when the boys are older.

5. The Rubbermaid bins that hold our "purchased" or "official" Montessori materials.  I have one for sensorial, one for practical life, two for language, and two for math.  The sensorial bin literally has one thing in it right now because all of the materials have made their way to the shelves.  

Like the banker's boxes, the plastic bins have a sheet of lined paper on the front that I've used to list their contents.  These are the "math 1" and "math 2" bins.

So there you have it, a "last glimpse" in a way of this spaces as a "primary" storage space.  It is time to sort through the practical life boxes and get rid of all the suction cup animals to put marbles on, all the different types of tongs, the many lacing activities...  It is also time to sort out the many "culture" bins and organize them by elementary album title.

Home of: The Ultimate Montessori Blog List
The Ultimate Montessori Search Box
The Ultimate Montessori Homemade Materials Collaboration

Would YOU like to be added to the Ultimate Montessori Blog List?  Contact me!


  1. Thanks for the glimpse. I love posts like this. Organization of all the homeschool supplies is one of my biggest areas in which I am lacking! Our home has very few closets and we gave up our coat closet for materials and even so, it is not enough. How fortunate you are to have such a large closet to designate for school.

  2. TGWPT,

    We DO have the gift of closet space here. Don't forget though, this IS in the basement. It is nice that it is enclosed, but it certainly didn't have to be. If the previous owner hadn't walled this in, I would have had my husband put the shelves up against any ole wall in the basement...possible NOT under any water sources.

  3. Wow!! Nice very organized, I need to this badly. I like the fact that used boxes. Thank you for sharing.

  4. You have so many great spaces in your house: I have enjoyed your posts about your school room (really wish I had one of those), your art closet, and this one about your storage space! Also, I would love for you to add my blog to your Montessori list if you think it qualifies. We're really just beginning, but we love Montessori so far :)

  5. Look great! I think that I may have to take some hint from you about getting things better organized. Right now, I have boxes with all of my "crafty bits" like the seasonal stuff in plastic shoe boxes. My "real" montessori materials are on a shelf, and baskets and stuff are all on a desk! Its organized, but not neat like yours! Maybe someday soon I will get enough courage to re organize things! Your storage is great! I love it!

  6. I love to see how other people organize their supplies (Raising hand: Hi, my name is Eddie and I'm a storage and organizing junkie).

    I like the lists of what's in each- I've done it for other things in the house but for some reason have never done it with school supplies. I don't know why but I'm going to have to rectify that! Thanks!