A Montessori education is devoted to helping each child achieve his or her potential and develop a lifelong love of learning (who doesn’t want that for their kids?). The Montessori approach lets children learn at their own pace according to their own choice of activities. Perhaps surprisingly to some, the principles can easily be used at home as well as in schools. With that in mind, here is our little overview DIY guide to help get you started with Montessori methods that you can try out on your own without forking out the thousands of dollars in school fees.
A good place to start in your DIY Montessori adventure is by checking out some of these popular books. They give you lots of ways to bring the Montessori ideas into the home.
- How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way -This is a great and simple introduction to some Montessori ideas and ways to bring them into the home. Deb Chitwood of Living Montessori Now writes in a review of this book “If I could recommend one educational book to parents of children ages 5 and under, what would it be? After thinking about all the wonderful books I’ve read, one book stands out as the book I would recommend to any parent with a young child.That book is How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin, President of the Montessori Foundation. It is an amazing book!”
- Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child – This is an easy to follow book with color photos showing how to do basic Montessori activities at home, and it also suggests inexpensive ways to make activities. The book is easy and pleasant to read; it’s in colour and has plenty of photos.
- Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years: The Pre-School Years – This book was originally written in the 60’s but most of the instructions about making Montessori materials at home with common household items or easy-to-obtain craft supplies are still relevant today. This book is a great starting point for teaching Montessori in the home. DiscovertheChild wrote of this book “Beyond the introduction to Montessori theory, Hainstock presents lots and lots of activities that you can use in your home. For each activity, she lists the age range, the materials needed, how to demonstrate it to your child, the purpose of the exercise, and the control of error built in to each one. “
If you really want to be a true DIYer and are feeling a bit ambitious here are some wonderful sites that give you advice on how to make your own great Montessori activities:
- Maybe Montessori this is an amazing site that is written by a mother who is documenting “our adventures in homeschool preschool the Montessori way (with a little Charlotte Mason thrown in for good measure)”. This site blows my mind.
- Living Montessori Now has tonnes of great info on Montessori Method and DIY Montessori activities. You can also learn how to use Montessori principles and methods in parenting, and life in general.
- Homemade Montessori is another incredible site if you are thinking of using the Montessori method in your life at home. Lots of great tips, ideas and activities listed for you to try out.
After checking out the books and the websites you can start putting the Montessori theories into practice. Here are a few good toys to help get you going if you aren’t quite up to making your own activities yet: Practical Life Practical life activities are methods that teach the child to learn how to do everyday living activities in a purposeful way.
- Schylling Little Helper Broom Setis a child sized broom set helps encourage children learn to clean up their own messes, and acquire the habits of mental and physical order.
- Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board is an good cost effective alternative to the Montessori Locks and Latches Sets. The Montessori Locks and Latches Sets can cost over $100 so the Melissa and Doug set is a much more reasonable price at around $20.
Sensorial These are material that will help a child develop and refine his or her five senses.
- Plan Toy Geometric Sorting Board this is a great tool for teaching shape recognition and early geometry. It also helps to teach color and pattern recognition through play. This sorting board has four different wooden shapes in four bright colours. Kids match the correct shape with the correct number of holes to the corresponding wood pegs. Sorting is important in the Montessori method because it help children understand that things are alike and different as well as that they can belong and be organized into certain groups which ultimately helps with math skills and numeric concepts.
- Montessori Cylinder Blocks a great Montessori tool, unfortunately they are a little pricey but the reviews are very good for this toy. The cylinders are well crafted and a child can learn about sequencing, geometry, weights and shapes. Primary Montessori has a great lesson on how to use cylinder blocks.
- Montessori Lower Case Sandpaper Letters w/ Box can be used to help familiarize kids with the look and sound of each letter while the child is also developing muscle memory of the letters in preparation for writing. To use them trace one of the letters with your pointer and index finger while saying the sound of the letter. Do this several times so that it is very clear to the child what you are doing. Then have the child trace the letter, the same way you just did. As they are doing this continue to make the phonetic sound of the letter.
- Montessori Small Movable Alphabets w/ Box can be used to practice reading skills, word building skills and even help children identify phonograms in words. Derek Hibbardwrote in a review of this set “My wife and I will often spell out words on a piece of paper and have them mimic the words with the alphabet pieces. It didn’t take too long before my four-year-old was spelling out her own words. The theory behind Montessori materials is sound–when kids are able to touch and feel the shapes of the letters, they are able to learn the letters more quickly, and it sticks with them better. On a practical note, these durable and having the box helps to minimize lost pieces. All in all, this product is worth every penny.”
There are a number of Montessori apps available, although we’re not totally sold on the idea. One of the basic ideas of the Montessori method is the hand on learning approach, so it is worth questioning whether you will get anything like the same experience or result from these apps. It is actually a bit of a controversial topic that you can explore a bit further if you go Maria Montessori.com. But people love the apps, so here are some of the most popular Montessori apps you can check out if you are so inclined and you can make up your own mind.
- Montessori Crosswords – Spelling With Phonics-Enabled Alphabet develops spelling, reading and writing skills using a phonics-enabled Movable Alphabet. This app has had good reviews in New York Time, Wired, Geek Dad, Common Sense Media and was a Children’s Technology Review Editors Choice in 2011.
- A Montessori Approach to Math – Hundred Board Lite helps children with their counting from 1 to 100. The board and the number squares are replicas of Montessori classroom materials.
- Living Montessori Now
- Primary Montessori
- Maria Montessori.com