Friday, June 21, 2013

Montessori Home Classroom on a Budget

Many of you are on a budget and looking to set up a Montessori home classroom inexpensively. Here are a few tips that have helped my family in setting up our home classroom.

Start with Practical Life
The practical life area of the classroom is the foundation in Montessori. This is also the easiest area to start your home classroom with. You may not even be planning to home school your child/children through their school years, yet the Montessori practical life exercises will benefit your children regardless. It can begin with a little table and shelf on the side of the kitchen where your child practices slicing a banana, or spooning cheerios in to a bowl. Just look around the kitchen cupboards or craft cupboards. You may find that you already have a lot of the items needed to get started with practical life. Do a search for Montessori blogs to get free ideas on activities you can set up using easy to find items.

Shop Around
You can find inexpensive book shelves at stores like Target, yard/garage sales, craigslist, public school auctions or surplus sales, and thrift stores. The same goes for child size tables and chairs. A couple of years ago I found a very nice small wooden table with two chairs at a Savers thrift store for $25! I thought it was a great deal, but you may even find something similar for less at one of the places mentioned above. Thrift stores also usually have sections for wooden items and baskets. I've found some lovely wooden bowls, natural baskets, and wooden trays at thrift stores and you can find a lot of practical life items here, as well as at craft and dollar stores. You can also check with used bookstores for books on Montessori theory and practice if your local library does not carry them.

Ask Around
I wanted my children to have a Montessori education so, so, so bad. Bad enough, that I literally called around to several local Montessori schools and asked if I could buy their "left overs". I know that some Montessori schools will get rid of items that are missing 1 piece of something, or if the wood is starting to look worn out. I figured that if it was something like a knobless cylinder that was missing, I could just make and paint the missing one's, etc. Another thing I did was post a wanted ad on craigslist. I figured I had nothing to lose by asking if there was anyone out there who had Montessori materials or manuals they would like to sell me. You can also place a WTB (Want To Buy) post on the Montessori Swap Yahoo group, which always has used Montessori items for sale. Ebay can be another good place to find used items, however be prepared to have to bid for the items for the most part.

The Printer is your Friend
The digital age we live in today can help you acquire Montessori materials easier than before. Places like Montessori Print Shop offer a ton of Montessori and educational printables at a fraction of the cost! Choose instant download items a la cart, or order entire cd packages. Moveable alphabet for $1.99 and Moveable alphabet cards for just $2.69? Yes please! Check out Montessori for Everyone for a wonderful selection as well. If you'd like to do some Catholic Montessori lessons at home, you can also download Elizabeth Papandrea's pdf manual for $30.

Go Digital
Have an iPad? There are some absolutely wonderful Montessori apps for the iPad (Sorry, I'm not familiar with android). Check out app previews before purchasing an app claiming to be "Montessori"! Some of them can be nothing more than the equivalent to loud, visually obnoxious electronic toys. Here are a few of the Montessori style app companies that we've purchased from and have been pleased with: Preschool University, Mobile Montessori, and Montessorium. We certainly use other apps in our homeschool as well (I can go over those another time), but these are most similar to the traditional Montessori materials. Think an Ipad is too expensive? We were able to purchase an iPad 1 and an iPad 2 on Craigslist for about $100-$150 each. Is it worth it? Yes! As an educational tool, the iPad has been wonderful, but I would suggest that you definitely choose wisely and subject the apps to a Montessori "test" regardless if they claim to be Montessori or not.

Ask yourself, the following questions:
1. Is it visually cluttered or are they nice and simple, focusing on the main purpose of the activity?
2. Does it make a lot of noises, or perhaps distract children with "rewards"? If you find a good app that is noisy, you could always use the mute button and turn off rewards if possible.

Don't fall into the trap of letting your iPad "babysit" your children. Be sure to set time limits and goals for Montessori iPad activities.

Happy Birthday, We got you a Binomial Cube!
Birthday's and Holiday's are the perfect time to ask for Montessori items for your children. If you have the type of relatives and friends that ask you what your child needs, ask them for gift certificates from places like Montessori Print Shop, Montessori Services, Montessori for Everyone and Montessori Outlet. If they prefer to purchase the item themselves, start a wish list for these places and let them know the items you would like for your child.

Have you tried any of the ideas above? How did it go for you?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Montessori Materials Purpose

One of the things I did when I was in the Montessori homeschool co-op, was to put the following information together for the co-op parents. I found this information online and adjusted it to show what we were doing. Because of this, the list will also include the Catholic Montessori materials we were using. Take a look, and maybe it will help you know what some of the materials are for! For those of you who are new to Montessori, I hope this will be a great resource for you!

What The Montessori Materials Do For Your Child


Number rods: Learning quantity 1-10, intro to the sequence of numbers
Sandpaper numbers: Teach recognition of written symbols and how to form them
Spindle box w/ 45 spindles: Introduction of zero, sequence of numbers 0-9
Numeral line: Learning to count 0-9, arrange numerals in sequence
Cards & counters: Recognition of numbers 1-10, visual impression of odd and even numbers
Memory game: Development of memory retention of quantity, internalization of numeration
Decimal System/Operations
1-9000 small and large numeral cards: Acquaint child with written form of units, tens, hundreds, and thousands
Golden beads, 10 squaresfor banking, 100 squares for banking, 1000 squares for banking:
Visual impression of units, tens, hundreds, and thousands; enables child to see feel, and experience math problems concretely
Linear Counting
Short bead stair, Bead stair sets, 1-10 w/ wooden box: Counting by one, preparation for abstraction
Bead chains for cubing: Introduce skip counting, increase ability to rote count
Bead chains for squaring: Preparation for skill counting, preparation for multiplication
100 board w/ tiles: To develop memory for numerals 1-100, reinforce rote counting 1-100
Teen boards w/ storage, Ten boards w/ storage: Learn names and sequence of 11-99 and associate names with quantities
Stamp game:Uses concrete material for manipulation of the four operations (+, x, ÷, -)
Memorization & Abstraction
Addition strip board: Presentation of basic addition facts, analysis of number
Multiplication board: Understanding and memorization of multiplication facts
Addition charts: Memorization of basic addition facts
Multiplication charts: Memorization of basic multiplication facts
Subtraction charts: Memorization of basic subtraction facts
Subtraction strip board: Presentation of basic subtraction facts in concrete form
Division board: Understanding the process of division, presentation of basic division equations
Division charts Memorization of basic division facts
Positive Snake game: Preparation for addition, reinforcement of exchanging, research of ten
Fraction insets: Expore concept of fractional differences
Fraction skittles: Introduce concept of dividing whole into parts
Wooden clock: Introduce concept of time, hours, and minutes
Geometric solids: Develop concept of shapes
Geometric cabinet: Develop visual memory of shapes, discrimination of form, develops geometry vocabulary
Constructive Triangles: Refine the visual sense, develop the understanding of shapes and their relationship together

Early Language
Matching cards: Develop skill to match visually
Labeling cards: Support vocabulary development
Patterning cards: Develop visual ability to follow pattern and discriminate patterns
Sequencing cards: Support development of ability to sequence, stimulate oral language development
Classification cards: Support ability to perceive likenesses/differences, develop skill to sort items into categories
Key Sounds
Sandpaper letters: Recognition of forms by touch and sight; knowledge of sounds of the letters; muscular memory of the forms of the letters, preparation for writing
Moveable Alphabet
Moveable alphabet: Analysis of words as a preparation for reading, writing, and spelling
Mechanical Writing
Metal insets: Child learns and then strengthens pencil grip while studying geometric designs and color combinations
Phonetic practice readers series: Support child in the phonetic reading process
3 and 4- letter phonics cards: Develop and support the child in the early decoding process
Phonics cards with red vowels and reading strips:Support the child in decoding and isolating the vowel for reading awareness
Puzzle words with sentence strips: Expose the child to words that must be memorized for reading fluency
Phonogram books: Expose the child to the most common irregularities in the English language
Compound words, sets #1, #2 Practice in the study words and their construction
Grammar symbols w/ wooden box: Introduce basic concepts of grammar
Farm: Uses objects to identify and develop grammar awareness What The Montessori Materials Do

Visual Discrimination
Pink tower: Discrimination between heights, develops pencil grip, control (also – cubes represent the cubes of the numbers 1-10)

Brown stair
: Discrimination of thickness, expanded vocabulary (thick, thin, broad, narrow) prisms represent squares of numbers 1-10
Red rods: Develop sequence of progression, introduce concept of long and short
Knobbed cylinder blocks: Discrimination of dimensions, use of pencil grip, vocabulary) large, small, thick, think shallow, deep, tall, short)
Chromatic Discrimination
Color boxes: Chromatic awareness, vocabulary of colors, discrimination between the shade gradations
Auditory Sense
Sound cylinders: Training ears to listen carefully and distinguish between slightly different sounds
Tactile Materials
Fabric matching set: Develop tactile sense, further develop concept of textures
Pressure cylinders set: Develop concept of pressures
Touch tablets w/ box: Develop tactile sense, further develop the concept of rough / smooth
Rough/smooth boards: Develop tactile sense, preparation for writing
Baric tablets w/ box: Refine the tactile sense, further develop the concept of weight
Thermic tablets w/ box:Further develop the tactile sense through temperatures
Discrimination of Form
Geometric cabinet: Develops visual memory of shapes, discrimination of form, develops vocabulary of geometry
Mystery bag w/ small geometric shapes: Develop the concept of distinction through touch
Binomial cube: 3-D puzzle whose pieces represent the binomial equation (a +b)3
Trinomial cube: 3-D puzzle whose pieces represent the binomial equation (a +b + c)3
Olfactory Sense
Smelling bottles set: Develop and refine the sense of smell
Gustatory Sense
Tasting bottle set: Develop and refine the sense of taste

Cultural Geography
Flags of North America w/ stand: Identify the flags of North America
Continent pictures: Expose the child to pictures of life from around the world
Continent 3-part cards: To identify and visually discriminate the seven continents
Animals 3-part cards for each continent: To recognize and identify different animals from around the world
Biomes 3-part cards for each continent: Recognize and identify the different biomes of the world
World bird cards: To recognize and identify birds around the world
Physical Geography
Continent, US, and World maps: Learn to recognize continents, countries, and states
Continent globe (sandpaper): Introduction to earth as land and water
Continent globe (color-coded): Introduction to vocabulary and concept of “continent”
Land & water 3-part cards, Land & water forms: Learn to recognize & identify different land forms
Physical/Earth Science
Magnet/non-magentic comparison: Discriminate between magnetic and non-magnetic objects
Living/non-living comparison: Recognize the difference between living and non-living organisms
Planet cards: Recognize the different planets
Parts of the animals 3-part cards, Parts of the animals books, Parts of the animals puzzle:
Identify the different parts of each animal through concrete representation
Botany cabinet w/ cards, Parts of the plants 3-part cards, Parts of the plants books:
Develop visual memory of leaf shapes, discrimination of form
Parts of the flower puzzle: Identify the different parts of a flower

Practical Life
Gross & Fine Motor skills
Pouring & transferring activities: Builds strength in thumb and fingers for writing, development of carefulness in movements and concentration
Care of Self & Environment
Washing tables
: Development of concentration and control of movement, following sequence of directions, preparation for writing
Polishing (plant leaves, shoe, glass, etc.): Care of self and environment, muscular control, following set pattern to obtain desired results
Dressing frames: Independent care of person
Communication, Manners & Social Custom
Grace and courtesy (greeting others, walking quietly, asking for something politely, etc.):
Development of common courtesy and social graces, development of confidence in the ability to communicate and interact well with others

Catholic Living & Learning
Liturgical Year:
Prayers, holy cards, stories, discussion, snacks & crafts
: Recognize the liturgical color used by the Church on specific days, Celebrate the saints and feast days the Church has given us, give the children a sense of beauty and joy for their faith, Identify and reinforce characteristics to imitate in the lives of the saints
Catechesis of the Good Shepherd
Child sized Mass kit, Mass 3-part cards
: Recognize and identify various objects used for the Mass
Wooden stand for miniature priest vestments: Recognize and identify appropriate liturgical colors for the season or feast day, recognize and identify names of priestly vestments
Parables, Stories of the life of Jesus, Figurines and objects depicting parables etc.:
Familiarize and deepen the understanding of parables, catechism, and life of Jesus. Memorization, contemplation, and desire to be close to the Good Shepherd.