There was a great discussion on the Mater Amabilis yahoo group and I thought I would share my ideas here. There are many things regarding Montessori that have taken a metamorphosis of sorts in my life. I was afraid of investing a lot of time and money making materials and finding in the end that they were not cared for or that it was not practical in some sense for my family. Some one shared that they created a Montessori classroom in her basement finding that it was becoming a source of frustration and also finding that it was not where God was leading her.
I have found this in many ways too…but for me, I
learned that I can create as I talk or the others work
or, if it is worthwhile enough, an older child can
make it as a learning project. umm…since that
statement is as clear as mud, let me be more specific
I was finding that the little ones were getting pieces
parts alll over. Tackle boxes and zip loc bags(up
high and labeled) helped. But I had no more $$. I
had very little time to play nursemaid to my school
shelves. I needed something concrete and a way to
lead towards abstraction that I could throw away if I
I wanted more unstructured time for myself. I found that I could do this if I utilized my time in a different kind of light.
My best friends became sharpie markers, index cards
and popsicle sticks. If we were learning about the
teens and tens, I still did present things like I
would with the genuine article, but I would make it
out of index cards and sharpie as I was sitting in
front of them and asked them if they wanted to play
this game with me and a stack of cuisenaire rods
(which were plentiful and available and the only thing
I wanted to pick up…LOL).
When they were learning to spell, we looked for pics
in magazines or I sent them on a scavenger hunt to
label things…no more thousand piece round up when
they were done and the toddler wasn’t. I did a lot of
things with paper and index cards so it wasn’t so bad
if I was cleaning and it was on the floor one too many
times…I could just sweep it up in the regular paper
I was learning more through my reading (in various online groups and Montessori books) of how things
naturally progressed and how to meet their needs just
before or as the children needed them. I didn’t have to spend
hours creating a beautiful apparatus only to have them
master it in 15 minutes and not want to pick it up to
work with again. I learned to find the teachable
moment. That reading of the method and making of
materials in the past fed my security of being a good teacher and anticipating their needs before I ever
encountered them. Being a mom of 7dc…I now know
what happens next.
I HAD to get creative, I like being creative, but I
had such limited time and funds. I didn’t want to
ditch the whole Montessori thing all together because
I saw it work wonders with my dc…one of which needed
very concrete touchable examples of EVERYTHING…so I
learned that using a Montessori catalog and what I
wanted to cover using some kind of reading or workbook
spine kinda fit the bill for us…
Was it Montessori like the schools…no way ;o) Was
it what the child needed when he/she needed it…yes.
We just used whatever outline was needed and "made
games" to make things stick better. I used glitter
glue on index cards for the sandpaper letters which
proved useful for learning cursive. We did make
landforms in the sandbox and make a sandpaper and
continents globe with a papermache and balloon
base…Ok, so it wasn’t exactly a sphere…but the
kids Loooooved it.
I learned to let my kids use many
senses to learn things..even letting them
touch…gently 😉 I got my point across ;o)
Some of the math games like the bank game, we did
through my 11yo ds. I gave him the general
information and asked him how it worked and why. I
used the printouts that were free on line and we made
the game together (gluing the papers to cereal box
cardboard…covering with contact paper and cutting).
He loves to teach the little ones, so this is a source
of amusement for him as well as a chance to make sure
he really knew all the ins and outs of the
We built binomial and trinomial cubes
out of 1cm blocks and he was able to demonstrate to me
how those algebraic formulas worked. The kids just
thought they were great puzzles.
The environment? It is our home…the Montessorial
step-by-step way of caring for it came in very useful
for a certain 7yo ds who needed that info in just that
way. I keep things accessible to them to do a good
job…they know what a broom is and how to use it and
they have safe cleaners like vinegar to use on the
windows and such.
I needed to go through my Montessori phase to have
that kind of beauty and order in MY heart…then I had
more insight as to how to present things to my dc as I
observed they needed them.
I kinda thought it was like going to the Library for a
book and owning a book. I want so many lovely books
available on our bookshelves for any time that a child
gets a whim to learn a new thing. I hate going to the
library. But, one day…I was standing in a new
library in the children’s section and I looked around.
I KNEW I could never house all the books I deemed
indispensable to our education. I just have a few
books (comparatively speaking) here and we do our
further explorations at the library…even if it is
just me jetting in there for a large stack to throw on
a shelf for the kids to discover…
I had to find what
was necessary…I found the spine of what we needed
and I was more able to supplement what else I wanted
from there…I was finally seeing the children’s
interests and feeding them as we went along. I now
knew what I was looking at and where I wanted to go
from there. It is so nice having a name for things.
I hope this is clear…lol…It is kinda like when a child is a toddler using every available moment to gather information about his/her world. And using that world around them to make connections. Here it is not only connections made with measured materials, it is a connection made amongst people in a family-centered environment. Some of the most sucessful materials then become the box and the paper the present came in…the present is the present moment itself wraped around familal love and cooperation. God knew that…he put the environment together for me giving my spouse and I these unique individuals and their unique talents..now as I learn, I use what He gave me for the best good that I can…I do believe they call that being a good steward. I will take my portion well done, thank you!
Image: Little Precious One Danny Hahlbohm
"Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven."
– Matthew 18:10