One thing I hate about the Montessori method is how easy it can be for a person to focus on the beautiful yet expensive materials. Many times when reading Montessori blogs and once when reading a Montessori e-book (none of which I will name because I refuse to bad-mouth someone for having a differing opinion than myself), I read about how the Montessori method hinges on the proper equipment. These classroom tools can be pricey individually and when you add them all up the costs become impossible for most homeschoolers. Some people will claim that the Montessori method is only for the “cream of the crop,” not suitable for every family nor every child.
Which brings me to the thing I love most about the Montessori method: it *IS* for everyone. Seriously, I have never met a child who wouldn’t benefit from at least some Montessori inspired activities. Even those who don’t have a strictly Montessori education (we sure don’t, we are an eclectic homeschool) could still benefit from some Montessori work.
And thankfully, it does *NOT* have to cost an arm and a leg to offer your children these activities. I’ve talked to many moms online who have bought materials second-hand or joined a lending library to rent materials at low-cost. Besides that there are whole websites dedicated to DIY Montessori materials! Some projects would take a bit of craftiness but others would be easy for anyone to make.
One tool that we use in our homeschool classroom almost daily is our movable alphabet. It is used in both the traditional Montessori way as well in various fun activities we come up with on the fly.
I purchased a craft supply box for about $7, alphabet stickers for $1, and 4 bags of glittery chipboard letters (two bags red, two bags blue) on sale 80% off making the grand total for our movable alphabet just under $15.
This was about 1/3 the cost of the wooden movable alphabets I had been looking at purchasing online, however I’ve seen some (and will link up below) several even more affordable options.
- Purchase a printable alphabet from Montessori Print Shop. This DIY is as simple as printing it out, laminating it, and cutting out the letter cards. Approximate cost: $2 plus lamination paper and divided storage container.
- Make your own with dry Lima beans and permanent markers following this tutorial from Criss Cross Applesauce. Approximate cost: $1 plus divided storage container.
- If you can work scissors, then you can make this felt version from The Kavanaugh Report. Approximate cost: $4 plus divided storage container.
- For a visually appealing DIY, this glass gem alphabet from Moms Have Questions Too is my favorite. Approximate cost: $12.
- Nature-lovers will appreciate this alphabet made from smooth pebbles by Montessori on a Budget. Approximate cost: free if you take the time to go on a nature walk and collect the materials, you’ll probably still need to buy a container though. I imagine a similar version made from acorns would be just as adorable.
- If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a DIY project then you may appreciate this idea from Craft Knife. (Hint: if you love board games then you probably already have everything you need for this project.) Approximate cost: varied.
- The eco-conscious among us will love this alphabet made of re-purposed materials from And Next Comes L. Approximate cost: free materials plus divided storage container.
And if you can’t find or can’t afford a suitable divided storage container, do not despair, there are DIY alternatives for that as well.
- Use egg cartons.
- Use ice cube trays.
- Use a shoe box and make compartments inside out of notched cardboard strips.
- Use labeled Ziploc baggies.
- Use cupcake baking pans.