Making Montessori Work on a Budget

As we are all well aware, these are hard times we’re living in.  But, that doesn’t change the fact that we all want to support our children’s learning and development as best we can.  We only want to do it as cheaply as we can.  So, take a few minutes to spend time in your child’s classroom to find out what her favorite work is and think about how you can duplicate it at home.  Here are a few suggestions to recreate her favorite materials for her to use at home without spending much.  (*Hint, you could use some of these ideas for holiday gifts for your child.) Nido: Many babies love the work that involves putting thin wooden dowels into the cheese shaker.  Go to the closest thrift store in your area and purchase a cheese shaker for about $0.50.  The next time you’re at the grocery, pick up anything that will fit inside those tiny holes- toothpicks, drink stirrers (best if cut in half), etc.  This also makes a great material to take with you places; just put a piece of paper inside the lid to keep from losing the sticks.

Nido:  Another great activity is the work where the children put disks into a slot in the lid of a box.  At nearly every second-hand children’s shop/ baby shower, you will find linking rings.  You know, those things that come in every color and link together.  Most new moms get so many of them, they have no idea what they’re actually for.  But, take about 5 of those, and a box used for children’s shoes.  Cut a slit in the lid, show your baby how to put the rings in the slit one at a time, and have a blast!  This same idea can also be used with a ball and a hole cut in the lid of a box/ or any other container with a removal lid.

IC: For language work, pick a few of your child’s favorite things around the house that are related:  stuffed animals, personal care items, etc.  Take pictures, glue them to index cards, and show your child how to match.

IC: For flower arranging, choose a small glass (or visit your local thrift shop again for a small vase.  While you’re there, look for a small pitcher used for pouring creamer into coffee) and go for a walk with your child to pick flowers, weeds, grass blades, etc.  Arrange the “flowera” into the glass with water from the creamer pitcher and place on a table for all to enjoy.

Primary: Help your child re-tell favorite stories by copying the main characters from the book.  (Great books for this work are the series by Eric Carle- Brown Bear, What Do You See? and similar others.  Just copy the pictures from the end of the book.)  Glue these onto index cards and take turns with your child retelling the story.

Primary: In order to recreate “Practical Life” work at home:  The next time you’re at the store, pick up a broom/ mop/ etc. and cut the handle down to a length that works for your child’s height. (Make sure to sand the cut edge- or just rub it on the sidewalk to smooth it down).  Encourage your child to help while you sweep or mop the floors.

Rebecca Wilson, MS, is mother to Emogene (IC7) and is an enthusiast for all things related to young children.  She earned her Bachelors Degree in Child Development and her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education both from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.  She has worked with children of all ages from birth through 3rd grade in different positions from teaching to administration to consulting.  Currently, she is a grant manager for the early childhood council in Adams County.