What is Shelf Work?

ShelfWork is a simple method to teach children 3 months to 5 years. It provides visual and hands on activities to teach children in the following categories:

– Baby Activities
– Matching Activities
– Sorting Activities
– Life Skills Activities
– Reasoning & Logic Activities
– Math Activities
– Literacy Activities
– Assembly Activities
– Sensorial Activities

These categories of learning are chosen depending on the age and educational need of the child and are correlated to individual learning objectives.  The child works independently on each task or with the educator and when done puts the activity back.  The ShelfWork activities are based on research from different methodologies that stem from Montessori, TEACCH, Right Brain Education, and others.

What can children gain from the ShelfWork method:

  • Fine motor development
  • Problem solving
  • Concentration
  • Critical thinking
  • Logic
  • Starting and finishing tasks
  • Life skills for daily living
  • Math and reading readiness
  • Following directions
  • Visual spatial skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Visual discrimination
  • Development of the senses

How ShelfWork got started?

Jady A. decided stay at home with her children in the early years to give them a good foundation and prepare them for kindergarten.  She made hands- on activities based on the child’s interest that focused on- fine motor skills, literacy, math, geography, science, pre-writing, sensorial, memory, and life skills.  She first observed her child to see what she was interested in around the house and outside. She saw her child’s inclinations made annotations of all of these and made activities around her interest. She put a small shelf with trays and activities that her child did everyday and started calling it “ShelfWork”. By the age of 3 and a half her child was reading decodable books, could count to 100, do simple addition, memorized 50 states of the U.S map and all continents, could recite and memorize poetry, among many other things. At two and a half her first child was tested and was reading 1st grade reading level. She did not spend hours teaching her child just 30 minutes a day and less. This page is dedicated to sharing ShelfWork so that this method can be practiced and learned to promote excellence in education and in daily life.

To learn how to implement ShelfWork and get over 180 hands-on visual activities for children ages 3 months to five years, click here for the e-book.

4 thoughts on “What is Shelf Work?

    1. I have read many books on early childhood education you can look at Maria Montessori books, Sydney Ledson, Glenn Doman, Jessie Wise- Well Trained Mind, Shichida- you have to order their english books from Malaysia, I recommend go to your public library and look up books on early childhood education. I can’t recommend just one book- there are so many good ones! Have fun researching and learning!

  1. I stumbled upon your youtube page during my research to provide my 18 month old (and future child) with more structure/learning opportunities. I was up watching your channel until 2:30 am! Your tips are great! I have three questions for you.
    1)How long do you spend on shelf work? I ask because I noticed in your video that you said never let them have too many toys at once, so is shelf work an all day thing or do you do something else with the day (besides meals, outside play, etc)? I’m in the process of separating the toys/ games we have and adding new ones so I can create the shelves.
    2)This sounds like a silly question but do you do all the activities with your child or do you just observe? If you do them with her, when do you find time to do the other things like take care of the house, etc.?
    3) I have a little one due in Aug just before my daughter turns 2. How do you keep the child focused when they begin crawling, but before they are walking and able to carry the trays?

    I hope these are clear in what I am trying to ask. I’m sorry for all the questions, but I am very excited to begin this journey and I thank you for taking the time to document your strategies for us!


    1. Thanks for posting.
      1) shelfwork is only like 30-40 min a day. Sometimes we do all the activities together, somedays she does just a few by herself it varies. There is no rigidity. She does alot of other things through out the day like pretend play, outside play, abcmouse.com, playing with her sister, she does house work with me…there is always so much to do.
      2) I place the activities in the morning and let her do the ones she wants. She always puts her trays back and does one at a time. Always encourage one activity at a time. I always get to math, literacy, pre-writing and key subjects. The others are up to her- life skills, interest led, fine motor skills, sensorial. I try to give her autonomy and follow her interest but there are somethings I make sure she does. I do house work while she has her 45 min quiet time and through out the day- I make her a part of it.
      3) When a child is crawling the only way to do activities is on the high chair. That is how I did them with Jade. They will sit there for a looong time on the high chair doing one activity at a time, its awesome!

      hope this helps.
      Jady A.

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