So, I just rearranged the whole school area. I gave each child their own set of shelves, with their own materials on them, and after one day of school (Friday) I can say that it is a very good arrangement!
1. We were running out of room on the shelves, but I didn't want to put away some of what I considered to be essential materials of the school, in case someone was interested in doing them. And I was having trouble deciding what to remove to make room for new works.
2. Some of the materials were not being used AT ALL. This would usually not happen in a Montessori classroom, because there would be at least 15-20 children and one of them would certainly be interested in a certain work... But I didn't know how to excite interest in some of the basics...pouring, spooning, the sensorial materials.
3. The children seemed a little bored. They would do their 3-4 favorite works, and then want to be done! Even though there were some things that I thought they should be interested in...I couldn't force it. And I have had Janie (my 16 month old) for a couple weeks now, and she'll be staying with us for the rest of the year. While I enjoy having her home more than sending her away, it makes it a little more difficult for me to give quality attention to the other children...and they also tend to be more distracted by her as she likes to babble and move constantly around the classroom. We just have to work with her, and around her...
So, I am feeling really good about the shelves as they are now. I am able to put out just a few of the materials that each child is working with (the ones they tend to choose most), and I put all the rest away. Now they have a more limited choice (maybe 9-10 options total, plus one shelf full of things that are for everyone to use- mostly art materials). I also put out some things on their shelf that I WISH they would work with, and we'll see how it goes. I can talk those materials up a bit, because they are specifically for one child and there is a sense of ownership there that I think helps them be more interested.
If someone wants to work with something on another person's shelf, they may come to me and request that it be on their shelf soon. I don't want them working with another child's materials, even with that child's permission...I would rather they focus on their shelf.
We'll see how this works. It has just been one day, but I can't see how we can go too wrong with this!
I'll post pictures of new works soon. I know the pictures are what really makes a blog appealing...so I'll do my best!