Originally Posted by beezer75
A Montessori child may be in a room full of toys and probably wouldn't be allowed to use them. An unschooled child in a room full of toys would have full access.
Not exactly. In a Montessori homeschooling situation, the parent wouldn't put out anything the child wasn't allowed to use.
As for the school environment, where there are children at different levels so a child might not be ready for every work that is out, in a good school exploration of all works is expected. Priority for using a work goes to the children who are ready for the work, but any child should be able to interact with any of the works to the extent they can do so without breaking them. The teachers use the children's interest in various works to indicate what works to introduce to help the child get to where they can use the works that they are drawn to. Also, when a new work is introduced to the child, the child should already be familiar with it from seeing it on the shelf and exploring it. E.g. by the time a child gets a 3-part lesson in the solid shapes, they should've already handled the shapes.
Part of the frowning on using works for other than their intended purpose is that the works are for a purpose and other children can't use them for that if a child is engaged in playing with them. Whereas, if one child is actually doing the work, another child who wants to do the same work can come and observe or come and join in. (Yes, collaborative work is okay. At the elementary levels and higher it is expected.)
There's quite a range of how Montessori schools handle things, but a parent doing Montessori-homeschooling can stick closer to Maria's guidelines and, for instance, let their child push over the pink tower to enjoy the thumps of the blocks.
Back on topic: Montessori<>unschooling, but look through Montessori activities for fun things to see if your kids want to do. They may have incidental educational value (cue ominous music), but as an unschooling parent you don't have to make a thing of that.