Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Haul and Soliciting Advice

As I mentioned last week, today was the day that I was able to go visit my friend's 10 year-old daughter's homeschool and buy some no longer needed materials from them. The above photo is what I brought home for $50.

It was really fun to poke around and see how her learning space was set up. I saw many neat things I want to duplicate someday. For example, she rigged the shelves second-from-the-top on their bookshelves with the roller tracks for kitchen drawers. Several of these shelves had aquariums for different animals on them (hamsters, salamanders, etc.,) and she can roll the shelf forward to get in the top to care for them. The boys held hamsters and parakeets today. They also enjoyed the aquariums with the salamanders and frogs. They played in shaving cream, did wild things with play doh, looked at two science experiments that had been completed that morning, and played with a robot that she built.

I came home with the following:

  • colored bead bars (homemade paper, enough to use to do the bank game)
  • stamp game (homemade)
  • small bead frame
  • bank game
  • cursive sandpaper letters
  • basic wooden grammar symbols with box
  • Montessori Research and Development Manual: Language Arts, Elementary, Vol. 1 (go with the grammar boxes)
  • grammar filling boxes (homemade, already filled)
  • grammar command boxes (homemade, already filled)
  • NAMC Physical Geography Lower Elementary Album with CD

She has the following that they are still using, but anticipate being done with before I would actually need them:

  • Multiplication and Division Bead Boards
  • Fraction Circles
  • Checkerboard
  • All of the Reading Analysis boxes
  • large bead frame
  • test tube division
  • volume box with 1000 cubes

I will hold off on ordering those items until I actually need them. She never owned any of the bead chains and is not parting with any actual bead materials. Now I get to sit down and try to figure out what I have left to order.

Does anyone have any opinions on the following:

  • If I have the basic wooden grammar symbols, will I miss having having the solid grammar symbols (the ones that look like the geometric solids) or are those really not necessary?
  • Will I be happy with homemade seguin boards?
  • I believe the 100 and 1000 chains are part of the "complete bead material" that goes in the cabinet. Am I correct?
  • Can the number cards that come in my bank game double as the large/small number cards (1-9000)?
  • Can the wooden strips that come with the addition board also be used with the subtraction board if I make my own subtraction board? Will paper strips (if I make it all myself) be more difficult to work with?


  1. I'll try and remember your questions!
    You should be ok with a homemade seguin board so long as it is good quality. Part of the attraction of it is the way the numbers slide in and out.
    So long as you have large and small number cards in the bank game that should be OK, although, if you have the two boys using the same cards but for very different activities it could get complicated/frustrating. They are very easty to make yourself though, either by hand or by printing them out.
    I think the 100 chain and the 1000 are part of the bead material.
    Personally, I do not like the subtraction board. I find it rather unhelpful. What I use are unifix cubes and actually physically take away cubes. Take away needs to show that the quantity get smaller!! (in humble opinion!)
    Don't know about the grammer. Sorry.
    I can't remember your other questions so I hope this has been marginally helpful. Maybe in conjunction with other comments they will!

  2. Congratulations on all the material you just purchased for a good price!
    I wish I could help you with all your questions but I only have a suggestion regarding the paper strips. I got the homemade version of addition strips-the paper ones. I've had no problems so far but my kid is much older than the age your kids will be when they begin to use the material, I presume. However, you could always glue the strips to foami strips. I've seen this done with the Stamp Game and it looks pretty nice, in my opinion.
    Good luck with your material!

  3. I don't have any help for you with your questions since my children are younger than yours. But I do have a question on the materials you purchased. Could you go over the homemade materials? I'm going to be making most of mine, and I needs some ideas.


  4. The wooden grammar symbols are just fine. The 3D ones were traditionally made by the teacher as the very first introduction to the symbols (along with a series of impressionistic stories) for the 6-9 year old child. Worth it if you are teaching a whole class of children, not necessary for a homeschool situation where you can do an adequate job with the wooden symbols.
    In my experience the children really only use the seguin boards for a short period of time - most learn to "count" the teens and tens quickly, picking up on the patterns. The boards are easy enough to make and will do the trick.
    The 100 chain and 1000 chain are part of the complete bead material, but sometimes classrooms have an extra one of each of these because they are used separately to the bead chain activities (for numeration purposes, versus skip counting etc)
    The large and small number cards are used to form the equation for operations using the golden beads. In addition you need two sets of small cards for the two addends, and one set of large cards for the sum. In subtraction you need one set of large cards for the minuend, a small set for the subtrahend and another small set for the difference. In multiplication you need up to four sets of the small cards (since multiplication with the golden beads is really done in the form of repeated addition), and one set of large cards for the product. In division you need one set of large cards for the dividend, and a set of small cards (just the units) for the divisor, and one set of small cards for the quotient. So I would not use the cards from the bank game - I would make some extras from card.
    I have found that the paper strips work just as well - I have had to make a complete set of memorisation materials from paper for a school classroom, and they lasted for a whole year with 28 children using them. I have these board materials and strips in pdf format on my computer from when I made them. I am happy to share if you would like a copy.

  5. Thank you all for the advice, if anyone has any more please keep it coming!

    Brenda, if you haven't already, look at the links in the Ultimate Montessori Homemade Materials Collaboration (top left sidebar). Most of the materials I just received are a bit ahead of where my boys are working. Some are A LOT ahead. If your children are younger you need some ideas that are a little closer on the timeline . The collaboration should be a good place to find them You can also join the Yahoo group "Montessori Makers." Also, the Gettman and Hainstock books give instructions for most everything if they believe it can be made at home.

    I will eventually show the new, homemade, materials in detail...but it might not be for a while.

  6. Congrats on the materials. I am interested in the homemade grammar
    boxes. What did she use to fill the
    boxes and how many of each are there?
    What are the dimensions of the boxes.

  7. Wow so I'm a few years late to this post but can you tell me what the grammar boxes are made out of. Wood, cardboard? I'm debating whether to buy or make. Thanks.


    1. Jennifer,

      The grammar boxes in the photo (homemade) are made from folded cardstock. Commerical ones are made of wood.