Sunday, July 12, 2009

Part 1: Buying Montessori Materials

I think most parents who decide to use Montessori At Home go through something like this:

1. Find out about Montessori, and decide that it is great.
2. Try and figure out whether to send child to a Montessori school or teach them at home, and decide to teach them at home.
3. Look at all the Montessori materials and the prices. Realize that it probably isn't reasonable to be able to buy EVERY SINGLE Montessori material.
4. Decide to make all of them.
5. Decide that perhaps it might be best to purchase the ones that would be extremely difficult/not cost effective to make, and make others.

This is certainly the path that I decided to take. Back in 2003, I decided to teach my then 3 year old Flower (she is 9 now!) and two of my girlfriends' children using Montessori. I had recently been laid off, and didn't have much of a budget to buy things (some things never change! LOL) But I hoped that I would continue to use the materials for future children and future students, and that is the way that it has turned out.

FYI, Over the years, I have generally had children that were between the ages of 2.5 and young 5s. Most of the children did not use many of the bead materials or the language materials, and I've only had two children over the years that was reading for any significant portion of time. I've never had a child who went beyond the pink series in the Language area before moving on to Kindergarten. The children generally found most of the Geography Puzzles were too difficult, and only regularly The Continent World puzzle and the North America puzzle.

Here are the materials that I decided to buy. Most of the things I purchased, and unless otherwise noted, were from Montessori N' Such. Over the years, I've also bought a few things from Montessori Services, and Alison's Montessori, and Montessori For Everyone, e-bay and Neinhaus.

Practical Life

In the Practical Life Area, I mostly used catalogs for ideas for activities and I would buy the materials elsewhere.


  • I got the Natural Ten Tower because at the time, it was cheaper than the Pink Tower.
  • Broad Stair
  • Knobbed Cylinders
  • I eventually got the Knobless Cylinders from Alison's, but probably could have been o.k. without purchasing these, but the older children like to use the knobless, and the younger use the knobbed.
  • I decided not to get the Color Tablets. I made them by putting embroidery floss on embroidery spools. It worked o.k. but not great. I did purchase Box 1 and 2 a couple of years ago from Alison's.
  • I bought the Color Matching Cards from Montessori For Everyone.
  • I bought a Geometric Solids kit from a garage sale, and it worked o.k., but didn't have an ellipsoid or ovoid, and several shapes that the Montessori set didn't. I bought the Natural Geometric Set a couple of years ago from Montessori N' Such.
  • I bought a Sterognostic Mystery Bag from Alison's.
  • I bought the Binomial Cube. It rarely got used, and I sold it on Montessori Swap.
  • I bought Geometric Shapes Matching cards and Geometric Solids Matching cards a couple years ago from Montessori For Everyone.
  • Some not traditional Montessori but things that we have used: Tuzzles Shape Puzzles (Circle, Square, Triangles, Rectangles) from Alison's (no longer on their site), Geoboard, Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks.

  • I bought lower case sandpaper letters from someone who was making them and then selling them on e-bay. They are smaller than the traditional letters, and my consonants are blue and vowels are pink. I have not replaced them yet, but am considering it.
  • I initially bought some letter tiles at teacher supply store and stored them in a tackle box, but it didn't work well. So then I bought the small plastic letters for the moveable alphabet and a wooden box.
  • Montessori Plastic Insets. I purchased the plastic insets because I didn't feel that I could create them realistically myself, but I didn't have the money to purchase the metal ones.
  • I purchased the Inset Tray and Inset Paper from Montessori Services.
  • Purchased seasonal matching cards from Montessori For Everyone.
  • Some non-tradtional Montessori items that I have used: Melissa and Doug Magnetic Letters, D & K Language Cards (In The House, Transportation, On the Farm, In the Garden, Phonics, etc. Unfortunately, no longer available. I LOVE these cards. They have a picture on the front and the word on the back. I got two sets of each so that I could also do matching activities.) I also have an Alphabet Center pocket chart (The consonants are blue and vowels are red, which is part of why I haven't purchased different sandpaper letters), and a 6 strip pocket chart to put strips in for our nursery rhyme.

  • Tabletop Number Rods
  • Introduction to Decimal Quantity. Purchased through Neinhaus. I purchased the plastic, fused version. I sold these a few years ago, but replaced them with wood Base 10 blocks.
  • Introduction to Decimal System. Purchased through Neinhaus. I purchased the plastic, fused version. I sold these a few years ago, but replaced them with wood Base 10 blocks.
  • Teen Beads and Box. Sold these, but am going to replace them this year with Math-U-See blocks, or at least use the Math-U-See color scheme.
  • Ten Beads and Box. Sold these, but am going to replace them this year with Math-U-See blocks, or at least use the Math-U-See color scheme.
  • 100 Bead Chain - Purchased from Montessori Swap.
  • Colored Bead Stair - Purchased from Montessori Swap. Sold them, but now use Math-U-See blocks.
  • Some non-traditional Montessori items, but things that we have used: Counting Bears, Melissa and Doug Magnetic Numbers, Lauri Peg Set and Melissa and Doug Bead Sequencing Set.

  • Leaf Puzzle
  • Flower Puzzle
  • Tree Puzzle
  • Bird Puzzle
  • Horse Puzzle
  • Fish Puzzle
  • Frog Puzzle
  • Turtle Puzzle

I also bought the Parts of the ____ cards for the Botany and Zoology Puzzles that I have from Montessori For Everyone.


  • Land and Water Globe. Purchased from Appleseed Montessori.
  • Continent Globe. Purchased from Appleseed Montessori.
  • Continent Map Puzzle
  • North America Map Puzzle
  • South America Map Puzzle
  • Europe Map Puzzle
  • Asia Map Puzzle
  • Africa Map Puzzle
  • Australia Map Puzzle
  • U.S. Map Puzzle
I sold all but the Continent, North America and US Map puzzle a few years ago on Montessori Swap because they weren't being used and I wanted to use the money to buy some materials that I felt would get more use. Now with Flower and Jelly Bean being homeschooled, I really wish that we still had them. I'm going to try and replace at least Africa, Asia and Europe puzzle this year. I haven't purchased the cabinet, but it has always been a problem to try and store the puzzles, and if I had the money, I would recommend purchasing it.

I bought the Continent Kit from Montessori For Everyone.

In Part 2, I will discuss the Montessori Materials that I have made/in the process of making/planning on making.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this lovely post!

Zonnah said...

How big are the maps in the continent kit from montessori for everyone?