Felt World Map

I finally finish our Felt World Map.  I only had the Antarctic puzzle piece left to sew, the kids had been using it without it but I finally got around to it today.  It actually wasn’t as daunting a project as I thought it’d be and it turns out lovely, even if you’re not sure what you’re doing!

The pattern is from imagineourlife.com which is a wonderful blog.

http://www.imagineourlife.com/2013/07/08/montessori-continents-map-quietbook-with-3-part-cards/

This is the map part, it’s sewn onto the blue ocean.  I got the large pieces of felt from Fabricland.  It’s pretty inexpensive.  It’s not wool felt however, just regular felt made from plastic but you could do this in wool felt.  There are some sites on Etsy that sell large bolts of wool felt.

I didn’t sew down all the little islands, some I just glued with fabric glue and I glued on the inland water pieces.

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Matching the continent puzzles to the map.  Pumpkin 1 loves this activity and she learned to name them all really quickly.

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The colours match the Montessori colours for each continent so it matches the puzzle maps and globes.

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If you can’t afford the Montessori world puzzle map this would be a great, inexpensive substitute.

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No Sew Waldorf Inspired Sock Doll

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There’s something special about a doll you make yourself for your child.

” ……a handcrafted doll is one of a kind, an individual which carries the spirit of the maker in its stitches and absorbs the spirit of the child who loves it”.

You don’t need a lot of skill or expensive materials to make a simple doll.  Infact, you don’t even have to sew to make this one.  This is what you need:

-1 knee sock in a skin tone

-2 regular patterned socks

-yarn

-scrap fabric

-string

-small square batting

-rice

-scissors

Optional

-doll making needle

-embroidery floss

First thing, take a piece of scrap fabric and start wrapping yarn around it to make a ball.

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After you have your ball of yarn, take a square of batting, double thickness, and put the ball in the center and gather the batting around it.  Tie the batting tightly with some string just below the ball.

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Next tie a string tightly around the center of the ball to form the eye indentation.

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Now take your knee sock and cut the foot off.

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Tie the sock where you cut it off tightly.

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Insert the doll head right up to where it’s tied off.

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Tie the sock just below the head to form the neck.  Now start filling the sock with rice.  I used a funnel to help.

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Once the sock is as full as you’d like it, tie off the bottom with string.

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Now this part is optional.  You can sew on eyes and a mouth with embroidery floss or you can draw or paint them on or leave the face blank.  I sewed them on.

First use pins to mark where you want the eyes and mouth to be.

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Then thread your long needle and push it through from the inside of the eye to the top of the head.  Remove the needle and knot the thread and put tight from the front.

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Make the eyes by rethreading the needle on the other end and inserting it to the outside edge of the eye and through the head coming out on the inside of the other eye.  Repeat on the other side and repeat again.  Then insert the needle on the outside of the remaining eye up through the head and knotting the thread at the top of the head.

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Repeat the process for the mouth only knotting at the back of the neck.

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Next take your other sock and cut the ankle off.

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Put the sock on the body of the doll as a blanket.  Cut the other sock across about the middle of the foot and roll up the edge to make a hat.

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And voila – an adorable sock bunting baby for your child.  So simple and so quick to make.

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When I gave Pumpkin 1 her new baby she said, “I love you Mommy!  I love it!”.  I was actually surprised that she fell in love with it so much.  She was singing to it and rocking it.  She names the doll “Quinn”.  Children really don’t need fancy toys.  They just need toys made with love which they can fill with imagination.

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My First Waldorf Doll – DIY

My son, 19 months, was starting to show an interest in nurturing dolls.  He’s mostly into cars, cars, cars and lady bugs, but I thought it’d be good to encourage this tender side .  I believe dolls are important for all children, regardless of gender.  Many boys will grow up to be fathers one day and often nurturing is something men feel at a loss with.  My husband teased me saying he wanted him to “be a man and kill bears with his bare hands”.  “Yea right,” I said, “you can’t even do that”.  “But you’ll make him a sissy”.  I proceeded to lecture about how many dead-beat dads there are out there and that maybe something is wrong with our society’s focus on “be a man” and instead more boys need to learn how to love, care for and nurture and what better way than with their very own doll.

I’ve been looking into Waldorf and I am moving toward more simple, natural toys.  Waldorf dolls are lovely, made of natural materials, stuffed with wool which absorbs warmth making the doll warm.  They have simple faces which allow the child to imagine all sorts of emotions for them.  And they’re soft and cuddly.  However, they have a hefty price tag.  This is because the natural materials are not cheap and the dolls take time and expertise.  But, at this time in our family, a waldorf doll just isn’t in the budget.  So, after much thought and a little nervous, I thought I’d attempt to make my own doll.

First I gathered my materials.  I decided to use old birdseye flat diapers for the skin.  For the head I had some old cotton yarn.  From Fabricland I purchased wool batting (80% wool 20% polyester), embroidery thread, 100 wool yarn, cheese cloth and doll making needles (they’re super long).  Fabricland was having an awesome sale at the time.  At Michaels I found some wool roving that’s used for needle felting.  In all I spent about $30-$35.

I followed this tutorial for making the doll head.  It was the part I was most worried about but it was pretty easy.

I wound the cotton yarn into a ball.

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Then I wound the wool yarn over it until it was 11″ around.

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Next I cut out the wool batting (doubled over) and put it over the ball.

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I cut out a piece of cheese cloth to fit and sewed it into a tube and inserted the “head” into it.

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Then I tied a string very tightly around the neck.  Next was to make the indent in the face to give it shape.  It didn’t make a very deep one, I think because wool batting isn’t as poofy as roving but I didn’t have much roving and I wanted to use it for the body.  Wrap the string around twice and pull very tight and tie.

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Then tie a string the same way from the top to the back of the head.

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Then sew a few stitches over where the two strings meet on each side to hold them in place.  After that, using a crochet hook, pull the string in the back of the head down to the neck.

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Now to make a nose.  You don’t have to do a nose but I think they look so cute.  Draw a circle.  Don’t use pen like I did.  It’ll show through your fabric.  Make a very light line.  The blog I used as a tutorial above explains how to do the nose really well.

“Start at 3:00 put your needle in across and come out at 9:00.  Move to 10:00 and come out at 4:00, pull gently, Move to 5:00 PM come out at 10:00.  Move on to 12:00 and so on, repeating the pattern until you go all the way around.  Pull your thread and the wool will draw up into a little ball.  Put a little glue to hold the shape of the nose and let it dry.”

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Next I cut fabric out for the head and sewed it.  I estimated and drew the shape on the diaper with chalk, cut it and sewed it.  However, diaper fabric doesn’t stretch so my first one wouldn’t fit over the head. What I had to do was not make the neck part as narrow and only sewed down to the curve and not past it.

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Also leave a gap at the top so that you can pull the fabric back and sew it down.  Again tie a string very tightly around the neck pushing any puckers to the back of the head.

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To make the body I just drew my own design on the material.  I followed this pattern. I lay the material over the head to see the proportions.  You can see how I had to paint around the nose to hide the pen marks.

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Next comes stuffing the body.  I cut rectangles from the wool batting and rolled them up and covered them with the wool roving and stuffed into the limbs.

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For the body, I wanted the doll weighted a bit.  I had some little bags from Chanukkah so I took two and filled them with dry lentil and sewed them shut.  I only wound up using one in the body though.

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I stuffed the body with a extra wool roving in the bum and then the bag I put into the fabric of the neck from the head and stuffed it all into the body.  The body needs to come up over the shoulders as in the tutorials in the above blog.  I got into my work and didn’t really take pictures of how to sew the body together and to the neck but the tutorial at Living Crafts with give clear instructions.  Here it is again (click the photo).

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To make the face, put pins in first where you think you want the eyes and mouth.  Then use the doll making needle to embroider it on.  Thread your needle and push it through the head just above to the left of your pin for the eye.  Un-thread your needle and tie a knot in the thread at the back of the head and pull tight from the front.  Then re-thread your needle from the front of the head now and embroider your eyes. Living Crafts has photo showing how to do this.  Make the mouth very simple with only a very slight smile.

After the face is done you can sculpt the body if you want.  I did a little bum and sewed the leg crease so the doll would sit better and made a belly button.

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The legs were too short though for the body and it was bugging me so I made feet by sewing around a circle of fabric, stuffing it and pulling it tight and then sewing it to the end of the leg.

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For the hair, I just used some yarn I had, it wasn’t natural yarn but I thought it’d make hair easily by just crocheting a cap and I was right.  It was late at night by then and I wanted it done for my son in the morning.

I then sewed the cap to the head.

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I added some of my own natural blush to the cheeks, dressed the doll in my son’s old newborn sleeper and here is the final product:

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I was surprised at how well he turned out.  He’s far from perfect.  One arm is longer than the other, his skin is too white and his legs too short, but you know what…..

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…my son loves him!

How to make a Montessori Math Bead Cube

I’ve started making my own Montessori math bead materials.  They are quite an expensive purchase and you can save money by making your own, though it’s a huge undertaking.  Pumpkin 1 won’t need most of the bead materials for a year or more but I thought I’d get started making them now.  One of the reasons I wanted to make my own is I want to adapt them to the RightStart concept of 5+.  So after the 5 bead bar, I’m doing 5 dark beads followed by however many light beads.

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Faceted beads are the cheapest.  You need to use beads that are spheres, not pony beads or else you’ll get rectangles and prisms not, squares and cubes.  I purchased my beads from here.  I hunted around online for hours and this was the best prices which shipped to Canada.  Shipping was steep (I ordered all the beads I’d need to make everything, so it was a heavy box) at $50 but it was still overall cheaper than any other site.  I ordered the tools, round nose pliers and cutters from Fire Mountain Gems and the wire and jump rings from there.  However the wire wasn’t right.  The first time I didn’t realize the lower the gage number the thicker the wire.  But when I did order 16 gage wire, it was super soft and pliable.  My husband then got me wire from the hardware store, 18 gage and nice and stiff.  I ordered 8mm beads which are the perfect size.  You could go up to 10mm too, but I wouldn’t do 6mm.  I’ll make a separate post of how many beads you need to do the RightStart Math inspired method.

It’s not hard to catch on how to make the bead bars, however, I don’t recommend trying to cut wire the right size first.  It’s easier to thread the beads on the wire first, make the loop and cut the other end leaving enough for the second loop.  Then you’re not wasting wire judging the size wrong.  As for the squares and cubes, it did require a little more figuring out.  I knew to use the mesh canvas which I got at the dollar store from this blog but her math calculation for the size of the canvas confused me.  It’s basically, you need to leave a gap between each bead, so if you’re doing the 5 square you’d cut 9 holes out – bead, gap, bead, gap, bead, gap, bead, gap, bead (you only need gaps between beads, not on the ends).

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This is the same for the cube only you do it length by width.  There are some other tricks I picked up.  I made a video of how to make a bead cube that I hope will help give a visual.  (The sound quality isn’t too great, it makes me sound like I lisp lol)

Here’s the finished cube

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The pictures kinda make the beads look cheap, which they are, but they actually look kinda pretty.  Pumpkin 1 and my daycare child really prefer them to the ones I bought.

Land Forms

If there’s one subject I love, it’s Geography.  I’ve been working on putting together a few Geography materials for Pumpkin 1 and I’m enjoying it so much.  One big project is the Continent Boxes.  These are boxes (or files) for each continent that contain things about that continent in the form of pictures, flags, objects, maps, stories, money, etc…  It’s so fun to do.  But it’s also a lot of work.

This weekend I worked on making the Sandpaper Land form cards.  This was something I’d been planning to make for a while but hadn’t gotten around to it.  They’re easy to do and very inexpensive.

First off I wanted them to be durable.  So I thought I’d laminate blue card stock squares first.  I then cut the land form shapes out of fine sandpaper.  Can I just say, I’m glad I didn’t attempt to make my own sandpaper letters.  Cutting sandpaper is like nails on a chalkboard, *shudder*, very unpleasant to do.  I used the masters from Montessori Print shop because I was also using the cards from there so I wanted everything to match.  After I cut them out I glued them to the laminated cards using Modge Podge and put heavy books on top and left them overnight to dry.  I wasn’t sure if the Modge Podge would hold, but it did beautifully.

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I was so excited to present them to Pumpkin 1.  I started off with the land form trays we have from Affordable Montessori.  Pumpkin 1 really likes those.  I got out the island tray and the lake tray because those are the simplest.  We poured blue coloured water in them.  She’s played with them before but I haven’t given her the names for them yet.  I did a 3 period lesson to teach her the names of island and lake.  Then I introduced the matching sandpaper cards and had her match them to the trays.  Next I brought out the green and blue land form cards and had her match them to the others.

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I also got out the sandpaper globe and we looked for islands and lakes on it.  Then she wanted the coloured globe as well.

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She was really enjoying this activity so I introduced two more land forms – bay and cape.  I really should have done peninsula and gulf because bay and cape are just variations of those, but I didn’t realize that at the time and bay and cape seemed more simple.  But, hey, I’m learning so much teaching her!

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The next day we did the activity again, and she remembered all the names.  This time I introduced another set of cards.  The photos of actual land forms.  These were a little tricky, especially bay and cape because the cape had a bay beside it, but I think it’s important for her to have a visual of the real thing to apply it to real life.

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Now to finish up my big projects on the go – the continent boxes, and the felt world wall map.

DIY Light Table

If you haven’t made a light table yet, you just have to.  They’re so much fun and kids love them.  And the best part – you can make them so fast and cheap, you might even have everything you need in your house right now.

Here’s what you need: a clear plastic bin and a string of white Christmas lights.  That’s all.  I prefer the regular lights to the LED ones, they have a nice warm glow. Just put the lights in the bin with the cord hanging out, put the lid on a plug the lights in. We have a light table I made out of an old end table but I threw together a second one so both my daughter and my daycare child could work on their own (hoped to stop the fighting, however they then fought over the plastic tub one lol).

Here is the tub one I made and magna tiles on it.

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DIY Oceans Globe

This month we were focusing on Ocean animals.  I’ve never seen an globe of the world oceans for sale on any Montessori site but the Keys of the World albums mentions it.  However, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to make and it wasn’t.

I started off with a globe I got from Dollarama and acrylic paints from there too.

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I started with painting the oceans.  I had two shades of blue and I made other shades by adding white.  I referred to this map to know where the oceans were and the globe had longitude and latitude lines on it.  I followed the 60 degrees south line for the Southern Ocean.

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The painting is rather tedious going around the edges and islands.  I suggest you have a small brush.  Since the globe’s finish was shiny it didn’t stick well.  I did two coats but it could have used 3.

Next I painted the land brown.

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By now it was 11:30pm (thus only 2 coats not 3) and I let it dry overnight.  The next morning I applied two coats of Modge Podge to seal it.  It turned out rather well and was so inexpensive.  You could easily make your own continents globe.  Just remember to use the Montessori continent colours so it’ll match the World puzzle.

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DIY Number Rods

Number Rods are one material I’ve hummed and hawed on.  I tend to want to have all the materials but I kept putting this one off.  First of all, none of the children have been interested in the red rods.  Not at all.  And when I do get them out, they have a really hard time putting them from shortest to longest.  They may just not have been at a sensitive period for it, but they also just seemed too big for our room.  The red rods come before the number rods, but I’ve felt that Pumpkin 1 understands longest to shortest enough and is ready for numbers.  She recognizes the number symbols from 0-10 from books and she can count to 10 but she hasn’t grasped one to one correspondence yet.  We have a set of mini number rods but even with those and working with her on counting things, she just hasn’t been grasping it.  Then I noticed a picture in the banner of a blog I love: What Did We Do All Day.  At the bottom right you see number rods with a child holding a frog on them.  Pumpkin 1 likes to play with playmobile people or any little toy people and animals and tries to make the materials their houses and chairs (which I discourage as materials must be used in their proper manner or their purpose is lost).  If I had her make a frog jump from colour to colour and count with each jump, I knew she’d really like that and it just might be the thing to give her that “aha” moment about one to one correspondence.

Now, the thing was, I’d just made a large materials purchase and hadn’t purchased the number rods.  So I was wondering what I could do.  I checked out this list of DIY Montessori number rods and was contemplating the duplo ones but they were smaller than what I wanted.  There were some made of Janga blocks, we have Janga blocks but I could just see my daycare kids bending them at the tape.  And I’d have to paint them. Then I had a brain-waver.  Mega blocks!  We have a bunch of Mega Blocks and there are red and blue ones and they’re just the right size.  I was thinking of gluing them together but the packing tape would work and because they fit into each other they’re more durable when taped together than Jenga blocks.  So I set to work and they turned out beautifully.

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Of course the bump on the end isn’t ideal, but I don’t think it affects the concept too much.  The great thing about them is that when you want to do addition, you can fit them together.  Also the size is perfect.  Not too big, but big enough for hopping a frog on.

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The other great thing is that you can stand them up.

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Now did the frog hopping work?  I was actually surprised how fast Pumpkin 1 caught on.  After showing and explaining she was hopping the frog along each rod and counting one to one.  I have her make the frog start on the table or carpet and hop up on to the rod.  She was really intrigued.

Now I only had enough red and blue blocks to make the first 5 rods so I had to order another bag of Mega Blocks.  Luckily Walmart has them on sale and offers free shipping.  http://www.walmart.ca/en/ip/mega-bloks-first-builders-big-building-bag-classic-8327/6000058318807

You can easily find mega blocks for sale at yard sales or on Kijiji.  And even if you bought two brand new bags of Mega Blocks, it’d still be more than $20 cheaper than the wood ones.  I’m pretty excited about my home-made number rods.  I’m not one for making my own materials because I either don’t have time, they wind up costing way more than expected, or I can’t find the parts I need to make it myself without going out of town, or it just doesn’t look as nice.  But I’m pretty happy with these.  Let the counting begin!

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ETA

I’ve realized that the number rods should all start with red so when I got my bag of Megabloks I fixed that by making the rods I had longer ones.  However, I’m still short red and blue blocks.  So unless you can get Megabloks cheap, it’s not economical to buy 3 bags of them to make the rods unless you really want tons of Megabloks.

 

 

 

Montessori Printables

There are lots of Montessori printables for free or for a small price online.  If you’re on a budget these are great resources for educating your child.  My favourite site for Montessori printables is Montessori Print Shop.  They have tons of resources and lots of great free stuff.  Here are some examples of free materials for use with toddlers or preschoolers (click on the link or the picture).

Bird Match Up

I Spy Pages

Small, Medium, Large  - FREE Printable Montessori Materials for home and school.

Big, Medium, Small

Imagine Story Cards - Free Printable Montessori Language Materials for Montessori Learning at home and at school.

Imagine Story Cards

They also have tons of materials available for a couple of dollars.  Here are some of my favourites for toddlers and preschoolers (click on the photo for link).

Air Land and Water Sorting Cards - Printable Montessori Science Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Air Land and Water Sorting Cards

 

Color Sorting - Printable Montessori Materials for home and school.

Colour Sorting

 

Seasonal Sorting Cards - Printable Montessori Materials

Seasonal Sorting

 

Objects and Shilouettes - Montessori Cards for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Objects and Silhouettes

 

Counting Cards (Spring) - Printable Montessori Materials for home and school.

Counting Cards (Spring)

 

Toddler Geometric Solid Cards - Printable Montessori Toddler Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Toddler Geometric Solid Cards

 

Toddler Young and Adult Sorting Cards - Printable Montessori Toddler Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Toddler Baby and Adult Sorting

 

Color Grading Cards - Printable Montessori Sensorial Materials for Montessori Learning at home and school.

Colour Grading Cards

So head on over to the Montessori print shop and download some new materials for your little one.

What Materials Should I Get for my Preschooler?

This is the difficult question for all parents starting out in Montessori.  There are so many materials and they can be quite expensive.  Do I need them all?  Can I substitute something else?  What can I make myself?  Why do I need that material?  It can be so hard to decide.  First off I recommend reading David Gettman’s “Basic Montessori”.  When you have an understanding of what the purpose of each material is, you’ll be better able to decide what you need now and what can wait and what you can skip.

There are lots of DIY ideas online for Montessori materials.  For me, however, I just don’t have the time to make things.  I don’t have time to go shopping to find the materials to make them, and then I don’t have time to put them together, and maybe it’s just because I’m in Canada, but often it costs the same, if not more, to make it myself.  And then what usually happens is I’m not happy with the result and I wind up purchasing what I tried to make and I’m out the money I spent trying to do it myself.  So I tend to purchase.  If you have the time and skill to make things yourself, go ahead, just don’t under-estimate the amount of time it’ll take and the expense.

So, what should you buy for your little preschooler?  Well here’s Pumpkins and Me’s must have Montessori list: (Links to my favourite Canadian site to purchase from IFIT in the headings)

Knobbed Cylinder Blocks: If you have a 2-3 year old, these are a big hit.  Heck, even I love doing them.  They not only stimulate spacial recognition, the knobs help children learn proper pencil grip.  I don’t recommend the Mini Cylinder blocks because they’re too easy. Your child will figure them out quickly.  If you can’t afford the whole set, Montessori Outlet sells them individually.  Blocks 1 & 3 change by height and width, blocks 2 & 4 change by just one aspect, either height or width.  Blocks 2 & 4 are more challenging than 1 & 3.  If you can, especially if you have a little one, get the whole set.

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Pink Tower:  This is another must have in my book.  Now you might be wondering why you can’t just use plastic nesting and stacking blocks or the like.  With the Pink Tower a child can feel the difference in weight between the blocks.  Also they’re all one colour so there is nothing to distract from the sensory learning experience of size.  Also the sensory materials tend to be in groups of 10 to start awareness of number grouping.

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Knobless Cylinders There are so many things that can be done with the Knobless Cylinders.  Each box contains 10 cylinders of varying heights and widths.  They can be combined into so many patterns and there are many extensions that can be printed off to use with them.  However they aren’t introduced until Period 5 in Gettman, but I use them with my 2 year old, they’re a little advanced for her but a 3 year old would have no problem with them.

Geometric Solids:  These are a wonderful sensory experience for children.  My 2 year old likes to match them with the bases.  She’s learned the names of most of them already too.  There are other sets out there that are cheaper.  Here’s some from Scholar’s Choice.  However, like the Pink Tower, I think it’s best if they’re all one colour.  Also, keep in mind that the Nomenclature cards usually depict the blue Montessori shapes.

Geometric Cabinet: This is an expensive purchase but I feel it’s an important one.  You could try making your own out of foam board but I think it’d be a tricky task.  This material has so many uses.  A puzzle, learning shapes, the knobs are good preparation for pencil holding and as the child learns to trace around the shapes and the frames with their finger they’re preparing for tracing the metal insets.  Also, if you can’t afford the metal insets, you can have your child trace the insets in the Geometric Cabinet if you’re ok with them getting marked up a bit.  The Geometric Demonstration Tray is sold separately, so you might want to get it as well, though it isn’t really necessary.  For $5 you might want to consider getting the Control Chart as some of those names of triangles are tricky.

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Binomial Cube: This isn’t something that you can easily make yourself and you’re not really going to find anywhere else.  It’s important for developing the child’s visual perception of three dimensional patterns.

Red Rods: These wouldn’t be too hard to make yourself.  I was going to get my husband to make them but I was sent them by mistake and decided to pay to keep them.  They are quite big but I think that makes the sensory experience that much more interesting.  I was tempted to purchase just the Number Rods but the lines would distract from the sense of length.  Numbers aren’t introduced until Period 3 in Gettman so I’d recommend getting the Red Rods.  There is also small Number Rods available, so you could save money by getting them instead of the large ones.  If you’re lacking in space I’d recommend getting the Rod Stand as well.

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Sandpaper Numbers: These aren’t introduced until Period 4 in Gettman so they’re something you can wait on.  They wouldn’t be too difficult to make yourself.  I don’t recommend the Sandpaper materials from Montessori Outlet.  They put some type of glue on the wood and cover it with coarse sand.  It’s sheds like crazy, making a mess, and feels terrible, it’s just too coarse.  The sandpaper materials for IFIT and Affordable Montessori are much nicer.

Sandpaper Letters: These are an important material for learning.  Combining touch with learning cements it in the brain.  You want to teach the lower case letters first so don’t purchase the Upper Case letters until later.  Also, you’ll need to decide if you want to teach cursive or print.  Cursive is usually taught in traditional Montessori but nowadays many schools and parents teach print.  I have heard it’s a read chore to make these yourself but you could try.  Affordable Montessori has a mini set in print of both lower and upper case.  Here’s a different option from IFIT that has number and letters but it looks like they are groved into wood rather than sandpaper letters, but they would serve the same purpose.  There is also a set on Amazon.ca

Sandpaper & Colour Globes:  These is also difficult to make yourself, but there are several DIY tutorials on the net.  This is introduced in Period 1 in Gettman.  The one on IFIT is said to be not good quality.  I have the Sandpaper globe from Affordable Montessori and it looks very similar and the quality seems fine to me.  The children really like to feel the globe.  In Montessori the continents each have a colour that is used on the puzzles and the globe so that is why you might want to consider having the Montessori globe rather than a regular one.  If money is tight, just get the Sandpaper Globe.

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Moveable Alphabet:  This isn’t introduced until Period 4, after the I Spy game and the Sandpaper letters are completed.  Why the Moveable alphabet rather than just magnetic letters?  Because the Movable Alphabet comes with multiples of each letter so the child can write words.  Writing comes before reading in Montessori.  Also there is the option of cursive letters.  This is something that you can wait to get.  Montessori Outlet offers the letters separate from the box so you can save money, but I recommend getting a box as it allows you to store the letters sorted so your child isn’t frustrated trying to find the letter he wants.  However, you might be able to find other storage options.  I haven’t reached this stage yet but I think you’d only need the lower case.  By the time your child is using upper case they will most likely be writing on their own.  Another option is to print out multiples of each letter and laminate them or purchase this.

What about all the other materials?

Brown Stair:  This is expensive and not necessary, though there are a lot of extensions you can do combining the Brown Stair and Pink Tower.  If you can afford it, it’s nice to have.  If you can’t, then you’ll be fine without it.

Spindle Box: This is one thing I made my own version of.  Read about it here.  There are also lots of other DIY ideas on line.  Another option that I actually like better and is great for younger ones is this from Scholar’s Choice.

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Colour Boxes: There are tons of colour activities you can do with objects around the house or make from paint chips that this is defiantly one area you can skip purchasing.  If you did want to purchase, IFIT has a Box 4 that can be used for grading shades and matching colours.

Metal Insets: Definitely not necessary but they’re really nice.  You could instead have your child trace the shapes in the Geometric Cabinet or get some stencils to trace.  If you can afford it, I’d get them.  Montessori Outlet sells them without the stands so you can get them for a little less.

Touch Tablets, Thermic Tablets, Baric Tablets, Sound boxes:  First off, my feeling is that these are great in a classroom, but not necessary at home.  There are so many daily experiences you can give your child without these.  Feeling ice cubes, feeling how heavy things are, talking about soft, smooth, rough toys, different sounds, etc… Also it’s not too hard to make your own touch Tablets and Sound boxes.

Bells: Music as been shown to expand brain development.  If you can have your child be part of music classes that’d be great.  My daughter is going to start piano lessons around 4 or 5.  Montessori bells are really expensive but I’m planning to do what the mother at What Did We Do All Day blog did.  I purchased my bells from Scholar’s Choice.  If you can’t afford it, do make sure music is a part of your day.

Dressing Frames:  I have these but I don’t find them practical because the way you do up snaps and buttons and zippers on a frame is different than when you do it on yourself.  If you know someone who can sew, these are a much better option.  Or just teach them with their clothes.

Construtive Triangles: The blue ones are not too expensive if you want to purchase them.  My plan is to make them out of foam.

Mystery Bag:  At $12 it’s quite affordable, but at the same time you could make your own with objects around the house.

Map Puzzles: These are quite large.  You can easily make a world map out of felt.  Here’s an awesome one I’d love to make if I had the time from Imagine Our Life.  The advantage to the wood puzzle is that the child can trace the pieces to make their own maps.  If you can afford it, get the World Puzzle.

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Zoology and Botany Puzzles: These are quite affordable, so if you’re looking for some more complicated puzzles for your child, you might want to get a few.  Otherwise they’re used for teaching parts of the animal and plants in Period 3.  I think a child can learn just as well with Nomenclature cards and growing beans in a glass jar.

Botany Cabinet:  Not necessary.  You could easily use cards to teach classification by leaf and have a child trace the geometric cabinet frames with a cuticle stick.

Land and Water Form Trays and Sandpaper Cards:  The trays can be made with Plasticine in plastic trays.  If you can afford it and want something more lasting then I’d purchase them.  The kids really love them.  The sandpaper cards are easy to make yourself.

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Trays, Jugs, and Practical Skills:  These are best bought at places like the Dollar Store, Target or even at Thrift Stores.

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