Where to Buy Montessori Materials & DIY Alternatives
Welcome to Lesson 2 of our Montessori Homeschooling 101 Series!
Today, we are chatting about the things that are involved in Montessori homeschooling.
If you've seen a Montessori classroom or typed "Montessori" into your Pinterest search bar, you've probably seen a lot of stuff, neatly arranged on open shelving, in a HUGE space.
(If you're worried about not having enough space, just head on over to yesterday's post - Lesson 2: Finding the Space to Do Montessori Lessons - where I debunk that false notion of need vs. want.)
Thankfully, since we are homeschooling, we only need enough "stuff" to teach our own children, not a 30-child classroom, and also thankfully (to our budgets), we can only have the amount "stuff" that our containers (or homes) can hold while still looking and feeling like a home and not a full-on Montessori classroom. Unless, of course, that is your jam.
I've teetered between full-on-Montessori-classroom and hide-all-the-things, I want my home to be just a home! You find your happy place!
When I began my Montessori homeschooling journey, my oldest was about 2.5 years old. I wanted to implement ALL of the Montessori I possibly could, so I wanted to do ALL the lessons that would be found in a classroom. And I wanted ALL the things to do it right.
There were so many things wrong with my thinking, but I'll highlight just a couple.
1. Implementing Montessori is 90% approach and 10% materials. (Found through trial and error. Don't ask me how I came up with the statistics. But they are true.)
2. The idea of doing ALL the lessons is unrealistic, and even a child in a perfect Montessori environment would not do all the lessons. Lessons are given based on the needs and interests of the child, not the syllabus*.
(*Note: Introducing lessons you think your child needs is always a good thing, even if your child does not at the time show interest. You never know when she will circle back around to that lesson! In my experience, sometimes years have passed before the inner need arises and my kid has picked up a prior-neglected work!)
Make conservative decisions about the materials you will buy and when you will buy them.
Once you make a list of Montessori materials you want to introduce to your child, go through and research which can easily be made from materials you have at home or at your local hardware or craft store.
For example, I have the "rough and smooth boards." They are from an online Montessori store, and they are great quality! But, I could have spent about $5 on a pack of varied sandpaper to give my kids the same great lesson!
Prioritize the difficult-to-DIY materials, and purchase a semester at a time. Don't over-buy, as you may not need that material for some time. (I have material waiting in my attic that I've had for 3 years... I'll need it one day, but I definitely should have waited to purchase it!)
The one exception to buying a little more or for a little further in the future is some companies have free shipping if you spend a certain amount! Check around!
What if I have no idea where to start or what to buy!?
Many Montessori homeschoolers use albums for each subject they wish to teach their children. Run a search for "Free Montessori Albums" or buy a set. Follow the scope and sequence.
Another option if you are starting in the 3-6 age range is my Raising Kingdom Warriors - Montessori Christian Homeschool Preschool Curriculum.
This curriculum is designed for any child ages 3-6 (so, yes, Kindergarten, too!) and walks you step-by-step, month-by-month through the following subjects: Bible, Language (Reading and Writing), Math, Sensorial, Colors, and Shapes. Enrichment activities for Science, Practical Life, and Art are included within the Bible lessons and Color/Shape lessons.
You'll know what to buy and when to buy it, be given links for DIY projects and printable versions of materials, and the teaching is scripted, so no need for training or memorization of lessons!
What are the best online shops to purchase Montessori materials?
I have found Adena Montessori (adenamontessori.com) to be the least expensive of the online shops overall. I live in the United States and have ordered from both Arkansas and Florida.
Alison's Montessori (alisonsmontessori.com) has been the closest competitor. I did order our set of Math Beads from there, without the Bead Cabinet.
There are so many more online retailers, though, so do your research! Don't just assume you need to get everything on Amazon. That is probably not the cheapest route.
Check out montessorialbum.com for a list of retailers with active links to the online shops so you can compare prices! Search the specific material, then scroll to the bottom for the links table. Don't forget to factor in shipping, especially when ordering multiple things at once!
What about making your own materials? (The DIY versions of Montessori Materials...)
I used to think that our Montessori materials should be "store-bought" and made by professionals. Especially since I was sharing our journey on social media...
My children do just as well with homemade materials, if not better. If they get to have a hand in helping with the creation of a material, then their buy-in makes the lesson that much sweeter!
So, if you have the inclination to make something, then DO IT! Pinterest is your friend. There are so many awesome mamas who share their expertise (for free!) with the world! You can find plans, step-by-step instructions, and videos to boot. Just search if you're unsure or need some inspiration!
Another option is to use printable versions. I know that printables are not ideal for every aspect of hands-on learning, but they can be a lifesaver for the homeschooling family! Sometimes, having a printable version of a work makes the difference between doing and not doing an activity.
If you haven't signed up for my FREE Montessori Homeschool Kickstarter Pack, do that now! You will receive access to a printable bundle that includes:
I'll also send you links to five videos that explain three fun ways to use each material at home. You can see how I take the printables and make them more "real," and watch them in action!
Questions? Comments? I would love to hear from you! Share your comments below, and we can all learn together!
If you're looking for more lessons in the Montessori Homeschooling 101 series, here are the links:
- Lesson 1: Finding a Space to Do Montessori Lessons
- Lesson 2: Where to Buy Montessori Materials & DIY Alternatives
- Lesson 3: Setting Up Your First Month of Montessori Lessons
- Lesson 4: The Montessori Work Rug
- Lesson 5: The Montessori Work Cycle
- Lesson 6: The Montessori 3 Period Lesson
- Lesson 7: Freedom within Limits in a Montessori Homeschool
- Lesson 8: How to Follow Your Child
- Lesson 9: Incorporating Other Homeschooling Methods
- Lesson 10: Giving Yourself the Freedom to Leave Things Out
- Lesson 11: Working with Multiple Ages
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