Thrifting Montessori

As much as I adore Montessori, I recognize that the materials are quite costly. I’ve recently gone through a big move, and I’m trying to rebuild my stock of classroom items that didn’t make the move. Here I have been rather lucky and have found many awesome items – However I’m rather short on cash, so I’m thrifting everything. Is it possible? Let’s look!

Small Dish Set
Thought this would be great for a snack table. Cost = $1.50 at Goodwill
Oriental Tray
Bamboo Tray. Cost = $.25 at a Yard Sale
Tiny Tray
Cost = $.25 at a Yard Sale
Blue Compartmented Trays
Cost for both trays = $.25 at a Yard Sale
Sake Set
Cost = $1.25 at a Yard Sale
Test Tubes
Awesome for color mixing experiments or for single-seed growing. Cost =$.75 at a Yard Sale
Mini-Easel with Painting
Cost = $.10 (yes, cents!) at a Yard Sale
Small Boxes
The same boxes used in Montessori Math Materials – a set of over 50 boxes of all sizes. Cost $1.25 at Goodwill
Set of 3 Stainless Steel creamers. Cost = $.75 at Goodwill
Teapot and Creamer
Cost = Free from a small church thrift-shop clearing out it’s inventory.

This is just a small sample of the things I’ve gotten. Forgive the somewhat dim pictures, my camera’s flash has decided to quit on me. My husband and I go to the local Goodwill every Half-Off sale and see what we can find. Yard-Saling has also been great to me, however I can admit I do need work on my bargaining skills. I feel somewhat guilty taking things away from people so I tend to give what they ask for. Everyone keeps telling me to just walk away if I think it’s too much, but I really only offer to pay for what I’m very interested in! Oh well, it’s a skill I’ll keep practicing each Saturday morning.


Sun Celebration

Birthdays are wonderful. Even if you don’t love the number you’re celebrating, it’s very fun to have a day of your own to enjoy. To celebrate this occasion we do a “Sun Celebration” or as my kids call it, a “Birthday Walk”. The Sun Celebration isn’t a Montessori concept, but I see that it does get used in many other Montessori classrooms. I suppose that is because it seems to have more of a representation of what age actually means to a child. In preparation for this article I intended to use more pictures, but it is difficult to do so when there are so many faces around the Line, so you’ll have to manage with the few I have.

Before a child’s birthday I ask the parents to bring in whatever healthy snack is the child’s favorite and one picture for each year of the child’s life. We’ve had a large streak of birthdays this month, celebrating about 6 so far and February isn’t even over! I set up our snack table at 8:30 am each day, and the children know if it’s not out right at 8:30 that must mean there is a Sun Celebration to do for the day! (There isn’t yet one child in my room who can read a clock either, but the daily classroom rhythm is the indicator to them I believe.) On days that we have a Sun Celebration, the children come to sit on the line very excitedly knowing we’re about to celebrate someone’s life.

I ask an older child to retrieve our globe from the Geography shelf as the child sets up the months on the sun. As I pass the months to the child one at a time we recite the months in order as a group. A lit candle is then placed in the center of the wooden sun that lies in the center of the gr0up, and the child holds the globe. I use very specific language when discussing the child – we use the mother’s, father’s, and siblings’ names as we discuss who all was expecting the child on their birthday. I usually start off with “On this day, (date)  (mom’s name, dad’s name) rushed to the hospital (or stayed at home, as I’ve had to say before!) and welcomed a beautiful baby into the world who they named ______!” (When we get to the child’s name, the entire group of children shout the name with joy.) From this point on we discuss one year at a time of the child’s life. Questions are asked for what the child was capable of doing at that point, and the corresponding picture is shown for that age. We discuss abilities, friendships, siblings, and work-related milestones as well.  When we complete talking about milestones in that year of life, we walk around the sun one time, coming back to the current month. When we arrive at the current day and current age, we sing Happy Birthday. The child then blows out the candle, and gets to share with their friends what they brought for everyone to enjoy as a snack.

The Sun Celebration is so riveting to the children, that even the ones that don’t join us for Line Time because they keep working want to be a part of it. The children are very respectful and make sure to maintain the quietness of their peers. We’ve also used this sun for so many lessons in our current topic, The Universe. I spent several lessons discussing why we walk all the way around the sun to signify a year in the Sun Celebration. When doing lessons on why the Moon has phases, I used the Sun on the floor with a flashlight on it to show how the Earth casts shadows on our Moon, and vice versa.

I’d love to hear how your classroom celebrates birthdays! I know everyone has slightly different traditions, or special songs to sing while doing a  Sun Celebration. Please share!

A Visual Tour

Here’s a quick peek at my new classroom. It’s been a lot of adjusting and rearranging, but it’s calmed me a lot to have the room set up my way. I know where everything is now! Yay! Imagine that before all of the shelves were pushed against all the walls. The middle of the room was one big open area, and the beautiful windows were blocked off. Ever since I started at the school 5 years ago, the room has been arranged the same way.

Here is half of the Kitchen / Practical Life area
Practical Life

Main Room (Line Time area is to the left)

This part of the Main Room has visual access to the Practical Life AreaScience Corner 2

This is my favorite spot in the room: the Science Corner. I adore the garden right outside the window!Science CornerHere is our Line Time area with a view of my not-yet-organized Sensorial shelves and my fledgling peace-table.
Line Time Area

It’s been a very very busy few weeks, and I feel today that it paid off. This morning was so beautiful during work time. One girl cut and arranged flowers from our garden into little vases to place around the room, another child was walking peacefully through a Red Rod maze while holding a bell, and two boys sat in the science corner discussing the bugs they’d seen outside. I’m so very lucky and happy!

The things I ponder most

  • What work should I direct _____ to?
  • Where on earth did I leave my pen?
  • Has _____ had a lesson on that yet?
  • I’m hungry…is it snack-time yet?
  • Why does this child move around this way?
  • How can I assist this child?
  • This would make a beautiful picture – OH NO! Where’s my camera?
  • What is the best way I can enlighten this child?
  • Really now, where is my pen?
  • I thought ____ was here today, you mean they aren’t?
  • Should we talk about our latest “You’re not invited to my birthday party” issue during Line Time, or not…
  • Which specific sense of the child is engaged at this moment?
  • Where is the child’s current fixation?
  • What can I do to be more organized?
  • Her name isn’t coming to me, what is it, what is it, what is it…OH RIGHT
  • When can we go outside again, it’s soooo hot….
  • Am I being the best teacher I can be?
  • What will my next blog post be about?

Some pictures:

A Montessori Work Day in Pictures

Making the Parts of a Tree Book
Exploring the Geometric Solids
Crumbing on a tray

Labeling the States
Leaf Shape 3 Part Cards
Tracing and labeling the parts of a horse
Cards and Counters
Bow Tying Frame
Paper Punching
Listening to tones

It was a busy and wonderful day!