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Environment: Creating a Montessori environment does not require name brand materials. Most of the materials can be created by an adult. The Practical Life activities can be made out of recycled items around the environment. Spray bottles, from cleaning supplies or hair products, can be cleaned out and used for different activities. Using the child's own clothing to practice how to zip a coat or button a shirt is beneficial to learn how to dress oneself. Old cut up rags or t-shirts make great cleaning towels for a young child. Keeping cleaning supplies (towels, washing window activity or mops/brooms) close to where the adult cleaning supplies are kept gives the child a sense of inclusion. The child will feel like the environment also belongs to them while making the materials accessible to the child. There is no need to buy an extra shelf! Just keep in mind that the child needs to be able to reach the materials independently, so keep them at eye level (this can be on a low shelf or nice basket on the floor). Use nature and the outside world as much as possible to provide lessons for children. Nature walks can be very informative discussing items that are living versus nonliving, discovering new plants or listening to the difference between bird's chirps. Follow the child's interest and find materials/objects around the environment that can educate and feed into the particular topic.
Outside Resources: There are many free Montessori materials online that can be printed out and used in different environments. Also, local libraries not only provide books but often times have free programs for children. Child librarians are typically happy to help if you ask questions about specific topics.
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