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Posts Tagged ‘Montessori’

This week has been all about buttons. It started with the reading of a Frog and Toad story about losing a button. At the end of the story, all the buttons that they find get sewn on a jacket to decorate it, which the kids thought was a great idea. So we went on a button hunt and found lots of great buttons. Then we sorted them. And we practiced counting with them. And then we decided to learn how to sew on a button so we made buttons out of felted sweater cloth and practiced sewing with a yarn needle. Then we decided to share our button fever with the elementary school students so we invited them to have a button tea with us, and we made cookies. Finally, we searched through our little library and found lots of great stories about buttons. These two and a button rhyme were our favorites. I wonder what next week’s impromptu theme will be?

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Well I finally took the plunge and decided to make bead material.  For those  of you who aren’t familiar with Montessori, these beads are important to the math curriculum. I found these great wooden beads at Fire Mountain Gems and beads, thanks to Stephanie of ImagineOurLife for the tip. I bought the 6 mm wooden waxed beads and have been threading them onto the gold plated brass eye pins that they sell by the 100 pack. I got one package of each of the short bead stair colours, black, white, light grey, dark grey, and a lot of gold. I bought three packages of eye pins (21 gauge) but I will need to buy another pack to finish the 1000 golden bead cube. They give you two 16 inch strands per package, which works out to about 130 beads. The whole thing, including shipping, cost me about $103. I have enough to make at least: seven complete sets of the short bead stair image the short chains for each colour (my son wants photo and bead arranging credit for this one.) image bead squares for all colours up to and including 6 image three black and white bead stairs image three negative grey bead stairs

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all the golden decimal material

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(45 ten bead bars, 9 single beads, 9 one hundred bead squares, and 1 thousand bead cube) and a bunch of random extra beads of various colours. So not everything that exists in Montessori bead world but a pretty decent start.

I like that they are wooden, and the paint is non toxic. They are waxed, and so they are shiny once you start handling them. They are not all exactly the same size, but I like the slight variation. If you are adamant that the square be a real square, though, these are not the beads for you.

The eye pins made my life much easier. They are stiff enough to hold the bars straight. I used the 3 inch ones and saved the pieces I cut off to make the shorter bars and to make jump rings for the chains. I also used them to stabilize the squares and the cubes. I know that a lot of people have had good success using plastic grids for that, but I don’t love how they look. I will do another tutorial post of how to make the 100 squares without the grids.

We aren’t completely done yet, but my seven year old has been really helpful with making the eye loops with jewelry pliers on the bead bars once they are done, and the little ones have been having a good time counting the beads onto the eye pins for me. I was sort of dreading this project but it is actually going quite quickly.

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Making Montessori

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It was bound to happen sometime.  I started in public school, moved to private, wandered through Waldorf, and now I have started training for Montessori ages 3-6.   One of the many things I have learned so far is that the Montessori curriculum is heavily dependent on materials and those materials are very expensive to buy.  This is somewhat ironic to me as the first Montessori schools were with kids in housing projects and Maria Montessori and her untrained assistants made most of their own materials and used things that were easily accessible, like empty wooden spools.  Fortunately, there are lots of online resources for making your own, and much of that information is free.  In the spirit of that, I will try to add anything that I do to help others.  This post is named as a nod to one blog I have already received lots of help from; Making Montessori Ours, and I’ll take the opportunity to add a shout out to another I’ve been gleaning lots of great ideas from:  A Handmade Childhood.

I started with the Color Boxes.  After surveying the many creative options out there, I decided to make mine out of wood (fir) and then paint them with leftover house paint.  I chose house paint because it is safe for little people and basically free in the amounts required for a project like this.  I have been collecting almost empty cans from other people’s painting projects.  Color Box 3 involves 9 colours; 7 shades of each of the colours, so I have painted the first one of each colour undiluted and then added small amounts of white paint and mixed right in the can until the very palest shade is achieved.

We used scraps of wood and taped the ends off after sanding them smooth and then painted one coat of paint on the tops and sides.

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While I was painting, I was concerned that the shades were too similar, but when they were dry, I found that it was pretty obvious when they were out of order and when they were correct.

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I only did one coat because I like the wood grain showing through.  My four and six year old testers approve.  Passing adults arrange them too; they are kind of like visual candy.

Next up, pink tower and brown stair!

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