Posted by: ginki0 | February 14, 2017

Making Montessori Materials

For Christmas this year, we were the astonished recipients of a 3-D printer. Yeah- totally unexpected! Needless to say, we quickly put it to work making all sorts of things, among them several Montessori style materials that we had thus far done without.

We’ve made a brown stair (my husband misunderstood my instructions and made them with only one dimension changing, rather than one dimension static, but that’s ok- I like them this way). We’ve made a pink tower- this is something we’ve done without for so long even though it’s an iconic material, and I was worried that we didn’t really need it, but when it’s so cheap to make (excepting time), my husband happily set the parameters and got the printer printing. We’ve made several materials for the boys’ phonics miniatures basket- the fox, igloo, octopus, tentacles, and rat come to mind. We’ve made skittles for division practice, rather than making do with blocks. Oh, and also containers to hold the skittles and the color palette the boys have all grown up using. We’ve also made a set of 9 thousand cubes of fitting dimensions to the ETA materials we had been given, which rounded out our Golden Bead materials (which are neither Golden nor Beads, but fit well enough for our purposes).

Mostly, I make the materials, printing and cutting and laminating and cutting again. We store them in bags that I make or in plastic bags or in clear boxes I find for cheap, because we aren’t looking to spend multiple thousands of dollars on official Montessori materials. Instead, we buy what we can’t make and do without those things we consider nonessential. Therefore, we have a binomial cube we purchased, animal/continent cards I made, and we simply don’t have those nifty beads with 1, 2, 3, 4, etc on a wire for counting purposes. We use blocks instead, even though they aren’t connected- you can still see the effect of adding one clearly.

I have to chuckle to myself because Montessori designed her method to use for poor children, yet now Montessori schools are so expensive you can’t get in if you’re poor (without help). We decided not to send our kids to Montessori school because of the cost. But that’s the thing. The materials are amazing, and yes, it is important they be well made and beautiful. That’s part of the magic of it. But the philosophy, the child-led learning, the purposefulness, the self-correcting materials, and the peace: these are all more important than making sure you have all the materials (and the space to put them all!). So can you do Montessori on a budget? Absolutely! Can you do it in limited space? Yes! You just won’t be emulating a Montessori classroom, and that’s ok. Homeschooling does not have to emulate any classroom. That’s one of the beauties of it.

I’ll leave you with some cute pictures from today’s study time, mostly because I can’t resist.

Rocky working with his pink tower (which he loves, despite my fears he wouldn’t like it! Incidentally, he didn’t touch it until I painted it pink, and since then he’s taken it out to work with multiple times on his own, putting it carefully away each time).

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Ninja working with addition with our “Golden Bead” materials. He learned today about dynamic addition. It warms my heart to see my kids loving learning so much, even when they’re sick!

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Bug working with his geography materials, on his own. The first time he did the puzzle, he pulled down the globe as well to refer to, but this time he apparently felt he could put the world back together without a reference. 🙂

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