Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Doha, Qatar
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My youngest attends an AMS-affiliated Montessori school, and our toddler classroom (2 - 3-year-olds) has items that encourage imaginary play. There are clothes for dressing up, blocks, trains with tracks that can be assembled, and a kitchen play area. There are also puzzles and art supplies (play dough, paint, chalk/eraser, scissors, paper, etc). But also more traditional Montessori works (e.g., knobbed cylinders, beads to string, table scrubbing, plants to water, and materials to improve fine motor skills such as twisting, pouring, etc.) There is a snack area where kids can get themselves a plate, serve themselves a snack, pour themselves a drink, and sit while they eat. When they are finished, there are dishpans out where they can practice scrubbing, rinsing and drying their dishes.
I think this is one of the major differences you will find between an AMI vs. AMS program. AMI schools tends to not have any imaginary play materials in their toddler rooms, whereas AMS is more open to including pretend play.
However, I think that some preschools have extended day options, where there is more free play time and more traditional preschool activities are offered. They shouldn't be offered during the 3 hour work period in a traditional Montessori classroom, though. Kids have the rest of the day to play with that stuff.