Saturday, January 23, 2010

Initial Montessori order

The Montessori materials are scheduled to arrive on Thursday! It took nearly 2 weeks for them to ship from Montessori Outlet, but it's given me time to work on the environment and a few materials that I didn't order.

You might be curious as to what we're getting. I started with the Special Offer package #1, but made a number of changes. Some changes were influenced by what I thought Nugget would like, and some were areas I thought were lacking in the package. Keep in mind that although I'm open to creating my own materials, I'm 30 weeks pregnant. I don't have a lot of energy to put into creating the materials right now, and I won't have a lot of free time for it once Sprout arrives.

Here's my reasoning:

Practical Life:
- Nothing. Yup, nothing. The package included some basic dressing frames, but I feel like this is an area we can work on in day-to-day life because we're homeschooling. If I do think Nugget or Sprout could benefit from dressing practice, I think I lean toward sewing some dressing vests. For me, there's a big gulf between being able to do buttons or bows on something facing me versus an item of clothing that I'm wearing.

- All the basics: Cylinder Blocks, Knobless Cylinders, Pink Tower, Brown Stair, Red Rods
- Color Tablets #3. The package included just Color Tablet #1, but Nugget is so far beyond red/yellow/blue. She can also identify all the colors in Color Tablet #2. She's probably not quite ready for Color Tablet #3, but it's something to grow into.
- Baric Tablets, Sound Boxes, Smelling Bottles, Mystery Bag with Geometric Shapes
- I did NOT purchase any of the Touch Boards or Touch Tablets. I've already made the Touch Tablets from sandpaper -- it took me just a few dollars and a few minutes. I think I'd still like to make a Touch Board or two, but I can just use the leftover sandpaper.

- I upgraded from a small Moveable Alphabet to a medium one. Nugget's already anxious to work on this, and I didn't want her fumbling with the tiny letters.
- Lowercase Sandpaper Letters, box for them.
- Metal Insets and Stand. I did NOT get the tray -- my understanding is that there's some disagreement about whether that nullifies part of the exercise (holding the inset steady while tracing).

Science and Culture:
- Botany Puzzle Cabinet and Leaf, Tree, Flower puzzles
- Animal Puzzle Cabinet and Horse, Frog, Fish, Turtle, Bird puzzles
- World and USA Puzzle Maps

Mathematics (here is where I made the most changes -- I feel the package was lacking a lot in this area, especially the bead material):
- Sandpaper Numerals and box
- Spindle Box with 45 Spindles
- Small Numerical Rods
- Large Wooden Number Cards with box
- Introduction to Decimal Quantity with Trays
- Colored Bead Stair
- 100 Golden Bead Units with box
- 45 Golden Bead Bars of 10 with box
- 10 Wooden Squares of 100
- 10 Wooden Cubes of 1000

I struggled over this list a lot. I was trying to hit as close to $1000 as possible, while getting the basics for early Montessori and anything I thought could grow with Nugget, even if we decided not to stick with Montessori after the first year or two.

The bead material was probably where I put most of my effort. The package included NO bead material in it. I understand they were probably trying to keep the cost down, but I feel the bead material is one place that the Montessori method shines. Plus, it's very flexible even when working in a non-Montessori fashion. Having those quantities to manipulate is very appealing to me.

So I did a lot of calculating to try to select bead material that would go as far as possible for the least cost. The more complex bead chains are far enough down the line for us that I can decide later if they're worth the investment of money (to buy) or time (to create).

A big area that I'm skipping is the Geometric Cabinet. To me, the cost seems so out of line with the benefit. If I start to feel like I'm really missing it, I think I'd rather put some time into creating something similar versus absorbing the cost.

One area I'm definitely going to put some time into is Geography. Montessori Outlet doesn't offer any globes, and I've always loved the Sandpaper Globe and the Continents Globe. Luckily, Target is currently selling small globes in their dollar section! I've been spending my evenings painting the first one -- blue oceans, brown land -- and am now experimenting with how best to adhere sand to the landforms. Once that's done, I'll move on to the Continents Globe. I'd really like to introduce those before I move to the Puzzle Maps, so they're first on my list.

Hopefully, I'll have boxes of fun Montessori material to photograph and share with you later this week!

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