Montessori shelfie

I say No to the Montessori shelfie

Why I say No to the Montessori shelfie, aka taking a picture for your Social Media of what is your Montessori shelf.

Montessori shelfie, aka taking a picture of what is your Montessori shelf is all the rage on Social Media.

It can be inspiring, but it seems that it has become the center of attention for many well-meaning Montessori parents.

I agree that it’s best to have your children’s toys and activities on view.

So, for many, a dedicated shelving unit will be the perfect place to display your child’s toys and specific Montessori materials and activities he might “work” on.

What I disagree with is the pressure to produce an Instagram Worthy shelf.

Often, I see parents rotating for the sake of it.

Parents ask me “when to rotate toys” “How often should we rotate?” and “what do I do if my child is not interested in the activities I have chosen to display on his shelf?”.

Without checking a single shelfie, what do you think your child needs?

One of the principles of Montessori education is that you observe your child.

So, it might happen that you will need to remove some activities or to add a specific one based on your child’s interests or some skills that she is working on. But it might happen that you will not swap or rotate any activities for months!

In the classroom, we rotate only a few activities, such as seasonal work and crafts-based activities. Most of the materials are available all the time because children of different ages and development will use them at different times during the school year.

At home, it makes sense to remove the materials when you see that your child has mastered the skill. If you see that the toys are gathering dust, it might be time to remove them.

Dedicated shelves can be the best way to display toys. It’s clearly an imitation of what you see in the classroom.

In fact, parents of young children are often disappointed and tell me, “my toddler trashes the content of his shelf” or “my two years old ignores the shelf and prefers to climb all day.” And I had received that comment from a client “my child wants to pour his drink, but he ignores the tray with the two jugs of pasta I set up for him”.

This is very “normal” because most children under the age of 3 are not interested in “shelf work,” aka specific toys or activities that have a specific end.

Yes, they will complete one puzzle or push the ball through an object permanence box.


But at the same time, they are on the move, and they want to communicate with you all the time.

So, they will take their activity where you are and will not put it back on the shelf. They will prefer to cook than to transfer rice between two cute containers.

They will experiment with the content of the shelf and make it all messy in 5 minutes.  

Remember that Maria Montessori designed her classroom to look like a home, not the other way around!

A Montessori shelfie can inspire you, but above all, your child should be the one inspiring you!
montessori shelfie
Also, I have parents complaining that they don’t have space for a dedicated Montessori shelf in their house, and some told me, “we are not fully Montessori because we don’t have a shelf”.

I have lived in rental houses for many years. We moved 4 times with my daughter and twice with my son. I can tell you that we started with displaying the toys on the bottom of our bookshelves. We also displayed some activities on our coffee table.

In my playgroup, I use table mats to display the toys.

montessori shelfie table mats

You don’t need a specific shelf, and you don’t need to worry about which one to choose.

And you don't have to be worried because your shelfie picture is not as beautiful as some Instagram accounts you follow. (and I love so many Instagram accounts that have beautiful shelfies! But look beyond the shelfie post! Do they observe their own children? Do they share their process? Do they explain why they have chosen each material?)

To conclude, go back to basics. Observe your child, do with what you have, and be inspired and never pressured because Montessori has to work for your child and your family

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3 Montessori inspired accounts that show shelfie that can inspire you. I love those 3 accounts because they explain why they have done that topic and how they rotate based on the observation of their own children:


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🍄Mushrooms shelfie🍄 We have found lots of mushrooms on our walks recently and so I thought it would be nice to set up Wilfred’s shelves with that theme 🙌🏻 I’ve added our @ikeauk flisat ‘dolls’ house onto his shelves for a change. (This one is Wilfred’s! Florrie still has hers in her little area of the playroom)🥰 I really like that you can put small books and baskets in there, for little ones to explore. I’ll post the mushroom themed activities later and explain how Wilfred will use them all😍 •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ •⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ #earlyyearsideas #earlyyearsplay #eyfsteacher #eyfsteachersofinstagram #openendedplay #montessoriathome #montessorishelfie #montessorishelf #montessorishelves #montessoritoddler #invitationtoplay #shelfie #comxloveautm #shelfiesunday #homeschool #playroominspo #eyfsideas #sundayshelfie #montessorishelfie #eyfsideas #autumn #mushrooms #mushroomsofinstagram #mushroom #waldorf #waldorftoys #waldorfeducation #waldorfhomeschool #waldorfinspired #eyfs

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⭐Sunday Shelfie⭐ I always set up Danny's(age 2) shelf based on his current interests, schemas, and where he is developmentally. This is what it means to follow the child in Montessori. We prepare the environment to suit their needs. We are not 100% Montessori, as we do have elements of open ended play 💫 💫 TOP SHELF 🌈 Grimms Rainbow - Open Ended Play(not Montessori) 🍂 Nature Tray - Treasures from our walks 🍃 Aloe Vera Plant - Care of the environment 💫 MIDDLE SHELF 🔢 Ikea Duktig Cash Register with Popsicle sticks - Open, Close and Posting Activity 🏠 Buckles - Practical Life & Fine Motor Skill 🎨 Colour Matching Counting Stacker 🟦 Ikea Shape Sorter - Fine Motor Skill 💫 BOTTOM SHELF 🏐 Various sizes & textures of balls & small beanbags - Trajectory Schema 🌈 Grimms Wankel Stacker - Fine Motor Skill & Size Discrimination 🚛 Grimms Pull Along Truck with slats - Transporting Schema & Open Ended Play ⭕ Loose Parts & Bowls - Open Ended Play, Transporting Schema, Sorting & Colour Matching Activities #montessoriandus #montessorishelf #montessorishelfie #shelfie #shelfiesunday #shelfiedecor #shelfiesaturday #shelfies #shelfielove #shelfiestyling #shelfieinspo #montessoriinspired #montessoriplayroom #montessoriathome #montessorimama #montessoriforall #montessoriplay #montessoriactivity #montessoriactivities #followthechild #spacetheme #spaceshelfie #finemotorskills #trajectoryschema #transportingschema #schematicplay #earlyyears #earlyyearsplay #grimms #grimmswoodentoys

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I’m a little late rotating Teddy’s shelves this week due to the fact that a little virus (not covid) visited our home and knocked me down for a bit! But thankfully I’m back to feeling my normal self, which means the rest of our week will be filled with tons of fun playing!! ⠀⠀ At 26 months old, here is what Teddy is currently playing with... ⠀⠀ - Disk slide and drop by @lovevery - Peg size discrimination box by @lovevery - Color matching spools by @grimmswoodentoys - One shape lock box by @guidecraft_official - Basket of Duplo blocks - Wooden stacking cups by @grimmswoodentoys - Picnic basket with fruit/veggies by @lovevery and @safariltd - Bunnies in a burro by @lovevery - Magnet drawing board linked in Amazon account - Buckle pillow by @lovevery - Autumn song basket ~ printable songs linked in my profile ⠀⠀ To encourage a healthy balance of materials, I chose to organized the bottom shelf to include Montessori work that each aims to hone a specific skill, and the middle shelf to include open ended toys. The top shelf is a just a mix of three fun items! ⠀⠀ * Shelf is by @sprout_kids discount code “madetomontessori” for 10% off your order! . . . . . . ⠀⠀ #shelfie #shelfiesunday #montessori #mariamontessori #montessorimom #montessorimum #montessoriathome #montessorilife #montessoriactivity #montessorishelfie #montessoritoddler #montessoriwork #montessoribaby #montessorikids #montessoriinspired #followthechild #preparedenvironment #montessorichildren #childledlearning

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About the Author Carine Robin

Carine Robin has a Master’s Degree in Psychology, specialising in child psychology. She worked for various social services in her home country of Belgium, before moving to Ireland in 2006. It was there that she started working in a nursery and discovered Montessori education. After having her first child, her passion for the philosophy grew and she qualified as a Montessori teacher and managed a preschool. Carine has been running a Montessori based parents and toddler group and coaching families for 9 years. She now also runs an online group for over 14000 parents, sharing her knowledge and passion with people from around the world. In 2018, Carine realised families needed more support and launched her popular online parenting courses and monthly subscription boxes, full of personally designed Montessori materials.