Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Peaceful Montessori Classroom: Prepared Environment Design

The necessary condition for the existence of peace and joy is the awareness that peace and joy are available. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living.
NAMC montessori prepared environment peaceful classroom shelves
Visitors who enter my Montessori classroom often remark at how peaceful it seems. They are amazed that 32 children can all be working on 32 different lessons, with some sitting on the floor, some at tables, some working with materials, some reading aloud, and some eating snack, and still there is a sense of peace and calm within.

When we speak of a prepared Montessori environment, we often think of the preparation of the teacher and the materials. But it goes much deeper than that. Before we put materials on shelves, before we cut paper and sharpen pencil crayons, before we fill small pitchers with colored water, we prepare ourselves and the Montessori physical environment.

There is no prescription for a ‘typical’ Montessori classroom. The teacher’s own personality is reflected in the choice of decor. However, there is one prevailing thought; we create a space that both calms the soul and satisfies the innate desire for order.

When creating a peaceful environment, consider the following:

The Peaceful Montessori Classroom: Prepared Environment Design

  • Order, cleanliness and beauty above all
  • Plenty of open space for children to move around easily and comfortably
  • Classical Artwork – paintings (Maria Montessori preferred pictures of children or mothers and children), prints, sculptures.
  • Portraits of Peacemakers such as Maria Montessori, Mahatma Gandhi, the Dali Lama
  • Bouquets of fresh flowers
  • Living plants and animals
  • A quiet indoor water fountain
  • Neutral colors on walls; the focus should be on the Montessori learning material
  • Variety in texture and color of furnishings
  • Fabric tablecloths and curtains
  • Natural wood furniture
  • Symbols of Love, Friendship, and Peace
The Peace Pole
NAMC montessori prepared environment peaceful classroom peace pole
You may wish to consider displaying a peace pole in a prominent position in your school. The Peace Pole Project was started by the World Peace Society in 1955. The World Peace Society is “dedicated to uniting people across the world”. Their peace pole is inscribed with “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in different languages which show that we are all united in our quest for peace. It is a reminder to all who enter your community that you value and strive to maintain peace and dignity to all who enter.

Here are comments from a Montessori teacher reflecting on the prepared environment:

”One of the things I really love about the Montessori environment is that it is arranged specifically for the needs of children. Everything — the materials, the child-size furniture, the space — is designed for them. And I believe that the children really sense this. They feel that the space is theirs, that it is made for them, to be occupied and used by them. They feel cared for and protected. The environment says to them: “You are important.” And finally, I have to say that as a teacher, I really enjoy preparing the environment. I like the sense of order. The process improves my understanding of what children like and what they respond to. An ordered environment makes it easier for me to watch, follow, and help promote each child's progress.
Source: NAMC interview with Rebecca Slosky, 2006

  • The NAMC Classroom Guides provide detailed information about the Montessori prepared environment.
  • The Peaceful Classroom, by Charles A. Smith, PhD
  • Other books on Montessori education and peace: Parent Child Press
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, March 17, 2010.


  1. I read the article on the peaceful Montessori classroom and I am so glad that NAMC has information out there to aid the teachers in general towards finding harmony for the children.

  2. This is so true. Preparing a beautiful, ordered, clean environment for children makes them feel not only welcome, but like it is for them. It is incredible on giving students their own spaces to care for and use promotes peace and order among an otherwise chaotic classroom environment. Children can do numerous different things at any given moment.

  3. I know that I am not the most organized person, and going through this program I have become more inspired to each day put together a more organized classroom that creates the type of peaceful environment that is necessary for my students to thrive. Since I have done this, I notice that my students take more pride in their work and the classroom environment.


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