I've printed off materials as much as I could for free. The Montessori Materials Group and the Montessori Makers Yahoo Group and their subgroups have many items for printing, as well as the Montessori By Hand Yahoo Group, and freebies at Montessori For Everyone. I have seen free downloads off from various Montessori websites and blogs. I am also currently taking an on-line Montessori Training class and have been printing manuals available to members of the course.
I also am a member of Scholastic Printables, KidsSoup, and Enchanted Learning.
I've picked up a lot of things at discount stores and thrift stores and things that I have at home, and put them together to make a practical life activity. Materials like:
- Little pitchers
- Little glasses/votives/dishes
- Duster/dust pan
- Dish Drainer/Drain Mat/Dishpan/Dishcloths/Sponge
- Cloth Napkins
- Containers with different closures
I'm always on the lookout for items that I could use in preschool, but perhaps not in the way that people traditionally use it.
- I made the color tablets twice actually. Once I wrapped embroidery floss around embroidery spools. The children would eventually start messing with the floss and it would come off. Then I made it out of paint chips. It was a little time consuming, plus I found that I needed to laminate it so that it wouldn't get bent, and then they didn't use it much. However, when I purchased Color Box 1 and 2, there was a renewed interest in it, and it still gets used fairly often. I am in the process of making Color Box 3 out of paint chips actually, just because I think that since it is more of putting the shades in order, that it will be o.k. if they aren't as thick, etc. as the real tablets.
- I made the sound boxes. I collected 6 bubble containers in one color and 6 bubble containers in another color. I put a variety of items inside it and glued the lids on.
- I made the rough and smooth boards and the graded tablets. I got the sandpaper at a hardware store, and the wood and glue at Hobby Lobby. I'm glad that I made this, because it doesn't get a lot of use.
- I made the fabric matching with some fabric scraps that I had around. The children use this on a somewhat regular basis. I switch the fabric every so often.
- I made the thermic bottles. I got some very small metal containers (shaped like metal milk containers) and some small corks at Hobby Lobby. This isn't out on a regular basis, but the children enjoy it during the time that it is out. There is a dot of paint on the bottom in a 3 different colors for the control.
- I made the smelling bottles. I used 8 dark matching salt/pepper shakers. Again, this isn't out on a regular basis, but they do enjoy it. There is a drop of paint on the bottom in 4 different colors for the control.
- I made tasting bottles out of dark bottles and eyedroppers. I put a drop of paint (two with red, two yellow, two blue, and two green) on the bottom for the control. I think I ordered the bottles and droppers from Montessori Services.
- I made the constructive triangles out of very stiff felt that I got at Hobby Lobby. I store them in wood rectangle boxes with lids that I got at Hobby Lobby that have a painted number on top to distinguish one from another.
- I made the Red Rods, although mine were natural colored, and they weren't the exact dimensions of the Montessori Red Rods. They worked o.k., but weren't used as much as the block tower or broad stair. I eventually bought it from Alison's and the Red Holder. The paint has chipped a lot, and Super occasionally uses them as swords. I probably should have just kept the ones I made, or not had them at all.
- I made baric tablets out of small boxes with lids that were weighted down with varying weights (taped to the inside bottom of the box.) Then the entire box was taped shut.
- I made sandpaper shapes using matboard and sandpaper.
- I decided not to make the geometric cabinet. I had considered saving up for it and purchasing it, but I have decided that the insets and shape puzzles will be enough for us.
- I printed out the red/yellow/blue downloads from My Montessori Journey, and created similar sound books, etc. based on her description of the system.
- I made the Spindle Box with a cookie sheet and then long utensil holders taped together and address stick-on numbers at the top of the holders. I used craft sticks for the spindles. It worked o.k., but not great. I'm planning on buying it.
- For cards and counters, I bought some magnetic numbers from a teacher supply store, and used red poker chips for the counters. I also use create many seasonal cards and counters activities from items that I purchase at Hobby Lobby. (I got this idea from My Montessori Journey.)
- I also create lots of seasonal matching and sorting activities with items that I get at Hobby Lobby or Dollar Store.
- I printed and laminated Animal/Plant/Body Classification cards, landform cards, and animals by continent.
- I also put out books and Dover books from our book collection that match the zoology and botany puzzle that we are working on for each month.
- I made landforms out of Sculpey clay and disposable containers.
- I am working on making landform cards out of matboard and sandpaper.
- I always make my own homemade playdoh, and I use beans, pom-poms, shaving cream, sand, etc. that I have on hand.