The Importance of Baskets and Trays

The Importance of Baskets and Trays

Walk into any Montessori environment for young ones and you’ll quickly notice a calming and beautiful atmosphere. You may notice that all the activities are set out in trays and baskets in a well-ordered manner. The use of trays and baskets help create a deep sense of order, foster independence, add to the beauty of the space and enable you to gather items to be worked with as a set. 

Using trays and baskets

Once you have chosen the 8-10 toys that you plan to have available for this toy rotation, use the baskets and trays to arrange those items on the shelves. Items that are one piece, like a pull toy, don't necessarily need a container. Items with more than one piece, however, will be best presented in a container. Put one and only one “set” of items in each basket or tray. Make sure that all the items a child will need to complete one activity are all together in that basket/tray. For example, if you put out matching coins, make sure you have a complete set of matches.   


Young children are busy deciphering the order of the world. Their sense of order is at this stage very concrete, and needs to be experienced in the physical world. Because they are in a sensitive period for learning order, this means they are highly attuned to orderliness. Most children at this age will feel more at ease and be able to focus on their play best when their environment is predictable and orderly. Working with the baskets also enables you to offer different items as a “set” so that children know these items belong together. This again, supports their sense of order. 


By placing items in the baskets on the shelves you are not only creating an orderly environment, you are also supporting your child’s independence. Your child will be more able to successfully choose a complete activity, do the activity and then return it to the shelf with the help of these containers. If all the toys are piled together in a bigger box or basket, it can take all their concentration just to find the parts they wanted to work with! If there is no sense of order when they begin, clean up can be overwhelming. Being able to find what they want, work/play with it, and eventually put it away, all contribute to your child's growing confidence. 

Gross motor skills

 For young children, just the act of picking up the baskets and moving them to the play area on the floor or table takes a lot of work! Your child will develop balance and strength as they work with the trays and baskets 

Beauty and simplicity

These baskets and trays help cut down on clutter and increase the beauty of your play spaces. A simple environment will help your child grow their concentration by minimizing distraction.  

“It is almost possible to say that there is a mathematical relationship between the beauty of his surroundings and the activity of the child; he will make discoveries rather more voluntarily in a gracious setting....” - Maria Montessori