Montessori classrooms are typically sunny, inviting spaces with beautiful wood furniture, lots of plants, fish tanks or animal cages, musical instruments, and art objects. Teachers give special attention to creating a safe, well-ordered, aesthetically pleasing, developmentally appropriate environment that will support children’s independence and challenge their intellectual, social, and emotional growth.
Montessori classrooms provide a prepared environment where children are encouraged in their natural tendency to purposeful action. Children's innate passion for learning is encouraged by giving them opportunities to engage in spontaneous, purposeful activities with an adult guide. The classroom is paradoxically both a busy space in which children are actively engaged in activities and a calm, serene space that allows them time for reflection.
Each classroom is organized so that learning materials are grouped in distinct subject areas, typically arranged on shelves in order of their complexity. Children are free to move about the classroom selecting materials to work on, using the bathroom as needed, taking time out to prepare themselves a snack, mopping up spills as they occur, only asking teachers or peers for assistance when they feel they need it. Children feel that a Montessori classroom is, in the truest sense, their room—it is a child-sized, child-centered learning community that they help to maintain. Their efforts to share the space in respectful ways promote social and emotional learning.