The Montessori Method

Imagination and Creativity in Montessori

Listen to the Podcast:

Podcast 2: Imagination and Creativity in Montessori

“Humans have a tendency to imagine, to create and to invent with the intellect. For example, an act of imagination allowed humans to use animal fur and plant fibres to construct clothing. A child in the classroom imagines a new constructive way to use a material or how the globe represents the earth.”

Angeline Stoll Lillard
(2017, The Science Behind the Genius: 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, p. 120)

There is a common misconception that the Montessori approach doesn’t encourage children to be imaginative and creative. This simply isn’t true. It is true that under 3 years old, we focus on the real world around the child to support the development of imagination and creativity, rather than encouraging fantasy. In this blogpost and corresponding podcast, I would like to discuss the following: imaginary play, fairytales, and creativity through art and music.

1. Imaginary Play

Around 2.5 + years , we will then see our child begin with pretend play. This is a sign of them processing what they see around them, not fantasy. They play families, bake us cookies, and pretend to be the school teacher.

simone davies (2018, The montessori toddler, p.94)

In a true Montessori classroom, you won’t see a pretend play-kitchen or a costume dress up corner. Instead you could find a real, child-sized kitchen area where children can prepare food for themselves or each other; a self care area; a cleaning area the toddlers can use to tidy any messes that are made during class; and a large art area where the babies and toddlers can express themselves creatively. In my school there is also a special woodworking area where the toddlers can safely use real tools to see a real cause and effect.

For Montessori at home, the adult involves the child in day-to-day activities like cooking and dressing and washing. There is no need to give toys that only represent real life (like wooden foods or a plastic toy appliances) when they are fully capable of having real-life experiences with those day-to-day activities that they find so fascinating.

At home you might also put out some open-ended toys from 2.5-3 years old. These allow for many possibilities to let their imaginations grow, without prescribing exactly how they should be used. For example, a set of blocks can be built in any way to represent anything to the child.

2. Fairy Tales

While they are allegedly intended for children, fairy tales are often very scary and not based in reality. Children under 3 and even up to 6 years old have difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality. Everything we tell them is very real and very true to them. They trust the information that we give them entirely.

That’s why in Montessori the books we read to children under 3 and the stories we tell them all give true information to the children and have realistic depictions of the story. Hopefully toddlers’ books offer information they can relate to their own experiences so they can consider them more deeply and learn more about that topic through the book we are reading to them.

Linguistically when children are able to understand figurative speech like metaphors and symbolism, they very much enjoy fairytales and mythological stories that require critical thinking. Among other things in regards to literature, the Montessori approach aims to give children a strong base in reality from the beginning, so that they can learn to understand complex stories and figurative elements.

3. Creativity Through Art and Music

Art and music are a large part of Montessori education. Maria Montessori believed arts to be just as important as other subjects. There should be a sizeable art area in the Montessori classroom with many different creative, and open-ended activities the child can use whenever they are inspired to do so.

Music is another important part of Montessori education. Musical instruments are available at the child’s level to support musical expression. In every Montessori class we sing and dance and enjoy music together with the children.

In the art area of the Montessori classroom, children have the freedom to explore new possibilities that make them wonder what else could they do? How else can they try?

In Montessori it is our goal that children have an environment which encourages curiosity through the freedom we give to the child and the ways that we prepare the space so that children become curious about the world around them and develop the ability to think and create for themselves.

“The secret of success [in education] is found to lie in the right use of imagination in awakening interest, and the stimulation of seeds of interest already sown.”

— Maria Montessori
(1948, To educate the human potential. Madras, India: Kalakshetra)
Montessori at Home

What Your Child Is Capable Of : from birth to 18m

Listen to the podcast:

Podcast 1: What Your Child is Capable Of : from birth to 18m

Maria Montessori spoke extensively on the great potential of the child. She explains the amazing ability children have to absorb everything they experience in the first years of their life. She also wrote about the Sensitive Periods they go through, which highlight each child’s perfect moment for mastering a skill- from great feats like walking and speaking to achievements in independence such as potty learning or self-dressing. 

The chart I have made follows the sensitive periods for movement and language from birth to 18 months old.  It is a month-by-month guide, sharing some of the things children do during these months and a few Montessori activities which are appropriate during each stage of development. 

However it is important to remember that every child has their own perfect timing to learn to turn, crawl, walk, and talk.  As always in Montessori, our purpose is to follow the child

When we are aware of all the things our little ones can do, it makes it possible for us to truly trust them and give them the space they need to grow and the opportunities they need to apply their full potential.  

So what can we do to help our babies?

We know that Babies and Toddlers are happiest when they have a stimulating environment that challenges them, but doesn’t overwhelm them, which offers understanding, and allows them to have success and also feel joy from their accomplishments.

1. We can offer a safe space for them to learn and discover.

newborn movement area at home

~ for newborns and small babies we set up a movement mat on the floor and a low mirror which allow them to see and feel their unrestricted movements, clearly.

~ when they start crawling and walking we clear the floor for them so they have enough space to move around. If possible we prepare a whole room or part of a room which is completely safe to let them explore freely.

The key to this is trusting your child and also trusting that the space you have prepared for them is truly, completely safe. 

2. We can provide activities that help Baby learn and perfect new skills.

advanced rings of graduating size on a stable base (2 years old)

I will give one example for the newborn, baby, and toddler stages:

~ newborns train their eyesight with Montessori visual mobiles
At birth babies can only see high contrast and they can’t change their focus. Mobiles like the Munari , which are black and white and move naturally with the air in the room, are slow enough for them to follow and see clearly. 

~ A couple of months later babies are improving their grasp and release with ring on dowel activities of increasing difficulty.
They start with one large ring on a stable base around 6 months old and eventually work up to several small rings of graduating size in a basket next to a stable or rocking base around 14 months old.

~ and walking toddlers grow their independence through practical activities like washing hands and slicing bananas.
They are very interested in taking care of themselves and taking care of their environment so we set up activities for dressing for self feeding, food preparation, cleaning, caring for plants, and lots of other exciting opportunities so that they can have success in these daily tasks which are so fascinating for them.

3. We can remove any obstacles which might be holding Baby back from taking steps in their development.

The most common obstacles I have found in my work with children are clothing, interruptions, and safety

~ I mean so say clothing that is too loose or too tight is a common obstacle that’s very easy to remove – literally.
When a baby is learning to crawl, they really need to have their forearms and legs open to make contact with the floor and move forward or backward successfully. When they are learning to walk long pants can actually trip them or socks can be slippery and cause them to fall down which is not very encouraging to a child who is trying to learn to move.

~ interruptions like distracting sounds or movements prevent many babies from being able to enter a concentrated state of learning and repetition. Some children are more distractible than others so it’s important to be mindful of this.

~ Safety is the biggest obstacle babies face in their development  because if we, the adult, see a potential danger we are likely to stop them from touching that thing instead of finding a more appropriate place for them to explore it.

In Montessori we see any state of repetition as a sign that the child has a developmental need which MUST be perfected. So if you notice your baby doing something over and over again, we HAVE to allow them that privilege, but in an appropriate place. 

Thank you for reading! I hope that you found this discussion to be useful, whether you’re a parent or a teacher and that we can be reminded to trust in the amazing potential the child has and let them use their Absorbent Minds from the very, very beginning.

Classroom Tours

Welcome to Germany’s 1st Montessori Early Learning Center!

In this post, I would like to introduce myself and give you a look inside the Montessori Mother Early Learning Center.

Hi! I’m Katelynn.
I am the Montessori 0-3 guide teaching all the Montessori classes at the Montessori Mother Early Learning Center. I am originally from Kansas, USA and I have lived in Berlin since 2017. My school is a place where toddlers and babies attend weekly Montessori classes to grow their independence, social awareness, curiosity, and self-esteem!

Montessori in Berlin

It might be surprising that the first Montessori Early Learning Center in Germany is opening only in 2019. When my husband, Chad, and I first moved to Berlin we were very surprised to find that Montessori was not very widespread, especially for children under 3. I posted on a local facebook group, Expat Babies Berlin, and asked if anyone would like to start a Montessori playgroup. I was warmly met by a community of wonderfully enthusiastic and supportive mothers.

One year later, I was teaching pop-up Montessori classes in 5 districts of the city and I was exhausted. I was transporting entire classroom setups across town multiple times daily. While this provided a valuable learning experience to the children, our classrooms were still limited to how many materials I could fit in a car. I wanted a central location where I could offer a beautifully prepared, complete Montessori environment.

Finally in March 2019, Chad and I opened the doors of Montessori Mother ELC to over 50 families.

what I love most about Montessori

I love that Montessori is that it is an Education for Peace. For 100 years Montessori schools have been making the world a better place by providing the environment for growing free-thinking, responsible, and creative individuals who know their place in the world and have no limits when it comes to the skills they can learn or the places they can go.

When I work with the toddlers, I see this every day. For example, in one class I might have 10 toddlers, born in 10 different countries, learning 10 different languages — all sitting together at the group table, babbling the same beautiful babbles, serving each other bread and bananas, and shining through barriers.

special corners of the school

I hope you enjoyed this tour! I look forward to sharing more soon.

If you would like to schedule a school tour in person, feel free to contact

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