Wednesday, September 01, 2010

How to Incorporate Montessori Entry Items in Your New Montessori Classroom

NAMC montessori entry items how to incorporate into classroom girl playing on mat

Entry Items for the Start of School – Part 2

As mentioned in Part 1 of this two-part blog series, I emphasized the importance of preparing and introducing “entry items” in the Montessori classroom to make the first day of the school year an enjoyable and successful day for my new and returning Montessori students.

Entry items are manipulatives (non-Montessori) that are already familiar to most preschoolers, such as puzzles, blocks, elastic band board etc. and I do like to keep them as natural looking as possible. Entry items don't require a specific presentation, aside from the basics of how to carry the activity to a table or mat and tidy it up upon completion. Even thought they aren't traditional Montessori materials, they should still be displayed in a Montessori manner - each item should be placed in a basket or on a tray and placed neatly on the “open” shelves.

On the first day of school, I take the children on a tour of our Montessori classroom and show the students which shelves are “open” and which shelves are “closed”. I have the children stay at circle but look with their eyes as I move throughout the room and stop in each subject area. For the first few weeks, I put a little sign on the closed shelves to serve as a visual reminder and I always make a point of showing each child what the closed sign looks like and explaining the purpose that it serves.

How to Incorporate Montessori Entry Items in Your New Montessori Classroom

Once I return to circle time, I provide a group lesson on how to work with the items on the open shelves so that each child learns the proper routine right from the start. I show them how we remove the activities one at a time and take them to a table or mat and then once we are finished, we return the activity to the same spot and either tuck in our chair or roll up our floor mat. By ensuring the materials are familiar, it allows the teachers to focus on reinforcing the important rules throughout the day, such as tucking in chairs, walking around the mats, replacing the tray in the same spot etc, instead of having to present to each child how to use the materials.

The children love the idea of having “open” and “closed” shelves and take it very seriously. They understand that they will one day be able to work with the items on the closed shelves, but that they need to wait for a lesson. Most of the time the children are very careful about remembering to work from the open shelves and it helps build the excitement and anticipation to receive a lesson with the other materials. To ensure the children have plenty of work to keep them interested for the first few weeks, I make sure there is a shelf of entry items in each of the curriculum areas of the classroom and I have included a few examples below.


Number puzzles, number peg boards, counting train puzzle, number foam board with pegs

Language Arts

Lower case letter puzzles, letter magnetic board, chalkboard and chalk


Elastic band geo boards, wooden shape puzzles, shape sorter box, geometric shape sorter

Practical Life

Lock box, lacing activity, bead stringing (making a necklace), linking chain, sorting activities


Tray of paper, 2 playdough trays, basket of stencils, container of pencil crayons, 3 trays with paper and crayons


Feltboard with planets, basket with animal figurines for matching

Other manipulatives

Wooden farm, large Lego (Duplo), mosaic blocks, wedgits, variety of wooden puzzles

NAMC montessori entry items how to incorporate into classroom girl using insets

As the children settle and feel more comfortable with the routine, I slowly remove the entry items and replace them with the more traditional Montessori learning materials. I then provide the corresponding presentation as to how to use them, either to the group, or to those individuals who are ready.

Bree — NAMC Tutor & Graduate

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, September 1, 2010.


  1. Thank you for the posts on entry items. I am in the process of applying to NAMC. And although I have worked with children for around 20 years, Montessori is new for me. I enjoy reading your posts, they give me a "taste" of what Montessori is all about.

  2. Bree: Thanks for a couple of great blogs about preschool children. As the father of a three year old, your insights and ideas on how you operate a preschool are fantastic; I look forward to the day when my child can enroll in a Montessori school.

  3. Shelley, I am pleased to hear that you are enjoying my posts and that they are helping to provide you with further insight into the Montessori method.

    It is wonderful to hear that you are planning to attain your training through NAMC. I wish you all the best on your Montessori journey. Bree

  4. You are more than welcome, Tim and thank-you for your positive feedback!

    It is wonderful to hear that you are planning to send your son to a Montessori school one day and I'm sure it will provide him with an amazing foundation!


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