Woohoo! Only a Montessori teacher can understand the rush of owning tiny bowls and pitchers and tongs. In the early days, you think you can’t possibly ever have enough. And then the day comes when you realize, by golly, you have to stop accumulating them because there’s no room left in the ~ahem~ fourth dimension.
Tips for Storing Practical Life Supplies
Tip #1: Plan
Use the ideas from the curriculum planning post to plan out when you’re going to use the delightful little things you have collected. If you don’t want to plan it all out in advance, then just take pictures throughout the year of every activity you put together. Then, the following summer you can review your pictures and make decisions about what to keep, what to discard, and what to buy.
Tip #2: Sort by Theme, then Color
Instead of tossing all of your practical life supplies in one cabinet or box, sort them for easy access. My preference is to first sort by theme and pop them into the appropriate unit studies/seasonal boxes. I then sort the remaining items by color. This has made it super easy to find just the right item.
Tip #3: Use Mini Drawer Cabinets
These mini drawers are mounted on the wall just below my kitchen cabinets. I finally sorted all the little doodads we use in our fine motor activities by color. The effect is quite lovely!
Tip #4: Use Tall Clear Canisters
This is my favorite tip. Laying tall canisters down on their side makes it very easy to grab what I need without having to move other things out of the way. Just make sure that either the top or bottom of the canister is clear so you can see inside. Using this technique in a cabinet with adjustable shelves is the best way I have ever seen of maximizing storage space without giving up ease of use.
I found these tall canisters at Big Lots for a dollar each a few years ago. They were gone when I went back for more 🙁 But I discovered that Pringles cans work JUST as well and are cheaper.
Tip #5: Don’t Underestimate the Humble Utensil Organizer
I used to keep my various fine motor implements in boxes and baskets for many years. A simple utensil organizer has turned out to be the best solution.
Tip #6: Use Squeeze Bottles for Colored Water
Colored water in squeeze bottles is an easy way to refill pouring activities in the morning.
Tip #7: Use Drawers Whenever Possible
I love using drawers for storage. I know most teachers use shelves in their kitchen cabinets to store the various bowls and pitchers that are used in a variety of activities in the class. That just doesn’t work for me. I’m short and clumsy, and having to rummage for fragile materials above chest height gives me nightmares of being engulfed in a glassy avalanche. One day I decided to try drawers and I haven’t looked back. I used to separate out the bowls from the pitchers but I find that sorting by color is more helpful.
More drawers. Stackable drawers under the sink are a great place to store sponges and other miscellaneous Practical Life supplies.
(Wall cabinets aren’t completely useless!)