Thursday, May 13, 2010

Materials, Materials, Materials

Above is a picture of my constructive triangles (five boxes) drying on the front lawn. I started these over a week ago and have been waiting a week for the weather to be nice enough to spray paint the second sides. It has either been raining or too cold for paint to dry. When they are done, I'll post about the construction process.

I have also been busy making some new cards for my geometric cabinet. There are free printable versions available on the Yahoo group "Montessori Makers" as well as some over at MontessoriMom. However, having printed, cut, laminated, and cut those once I highly recommend that you buy them at the same time that you buy your cabinet and from the same company. Adena sells them for about 30 cents a card and I figure that's about what it cost me to make them myself and it took hours and hours. Of course, I realized after I was done that many of the shapes were not the same size and shape of the actual insets and frames in my cabinet. This is why I advise you buy them at the same time you buy your cabinet and from the same company...the theory is that they would match. However, when working with discount suppliers I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't. I guess I would recommend buying them first, returning them if they don't match, and then and only then make your own.

What I have been doing this week is remaking the ones that don't match. I have found that the best system seems to be to trace the shape onto white paper with a thin blue pen or marker. This will be your "thin line" version of the card. Then, make two photocopies on your printer of the tracing. One should be on white paper the other on blue paper. Cut out the blue paper version and glue it to white paper. This will be your "solid" version. To make your "thick line" version you will either thicken your lines with a thicker blue marker and a ruler (if the shape has a lot of lines) or now trace the shape onto itself with the frame (if it's a curvy shape like an oval).

One thing I've always wondered about these do they store them in actual Montessori classrooms? Are all three types of cards out at once? Are they stored by "drawer" or by type of card? I know the supply companies sell three-hole cubbies for these. I guess that implies that they are stored by "type" (solid, thin, or thick) and the child digs through the whole stack to find all the circles if they are, for example, working with the circle drawer. For now I have been using a paper sorter (like a toast rack) that I found at a thrift store for 50 cents. I only have one type of card out at time (right now solids) and each drawer is in a different slot on the sorter. However, I still wonder how it is done properly.

In other big news, today I places what I truly believe are my last "materials orders" for all time. They were mostly math, and I think I will now have everything I need through elementary.

I have to make a correction to what I said the other day about Adena, it was worse than I originally thought. I thought my total order was going to be $25 higher, rather it was $65 more today than a week ago. I forgot that Adena calculates their shipping off of the pre-sale prices. Now many of the pre-sale prices are 40-50% higher than they were. For example, the RRP price on 45 wooden thousand cubes used to be $134 . They were selling them for $60.30 at "45% off" and one would have paid $8.04 shipping for a total of 68.04. NOW the RRP price is $295.00 and they are selling for for $59.00 at "80% off" and one would pay $17.70 shipping for a total of $76.7o.

The shipping increase caused them to lose 2/3rds of my business. All I wound up ordering from Adena were the actual bead materials (the complete bead materials and cabinet, the golden bead units, the decanomial box, and elementary snake game). There were a few things I could only get at Montessori Outlet (a black moveable alphabet for use with the blue series and the decanomial/pythagoras square/table) and it made sense to order the couple other items that were almost as cheap there as elsewhere to make the $100 minimum for free shipping. The increased shipping costs at Adena made it equal in price to order the items they really jacked up the RRP on (the 80% off items) from I-Fit instead (where I am a little more confident in the quality and they have free shipping if you meet the minimum). So the majority of the other items will be coming from I-Fit, including any wooden bead materials (like thousands and 100's cubes). Because I was actually placing an order from I-Fit for once I was able to pick up a couple of their clearance items such as a set of cursive double sandpaper letters for only $8 and no shipping.

It is such a relief to be done ordering materials, perhaps forever. I have a lot of materials to make over time, mostly for language and culture but also some math.

As for the rest of life, I have been way in over my head the last couple of weeks. The onset of "yard work season" completely unbalanced my delicate schedule. This week I gave up cooking and that seemed to get me back on track. We had to stay home from playgroup yesterday as well just so we could catch up on all the errands I have gotten behind on. Hopefully things will look more like normal from here on out.

I have written a followup post on toy storage, but it has been too gloomy all week to take the pictures to go with it. Hopefully the weather will improve soon.

I have to go spray another coat of paint on my triangles. We are due for more rain in a couple of hours.

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  1. I wish I had realized this (about the shipping costs) before I placed my order on the wooden squares and cubes. (I too was placing an order of mostly bead materials. Oh well. I'll know for next time.

  2. I am finding your comments about Adena and IFIT very interesting. I have ordered from both, but been happiest with IFIT, especially regarding quality and customer service. Being in Canada, in a semi-remote area, things arrived much faster from IFIT and were better quality. I also got very good personal service from their Canadian center, with very prompt phone and email follow up. Good for you to be so organized in getting all that you will need. Your boys are lucky.

  3. I look forward to hearing your reviews as your materials arrive. Everyone seems to have such different experiences with companies that is hard to decide where to order.

  4. I got my geometry cabinet cards from and they have been a perfect match for our cabinet. You still have to print and laminate so not sure it is a better deal then buying from the company.

  5. Thanks for this post. I would love to see a list of all the material you have. I need to work on finishing the material making and all before baby arrives, that would be a good checklist :)


  6. The Girl who painted Trees,

    Don't beat yourself up about it, I didn't SAVE any money by ordering through I-Fit, it was only even (and only if I still ordered the bead materials from Adena). I transferred as much of my business as I could hoping for increased materials quality, but mostly because I was irritated at Adena for disguising a price increase as a sale. I just BARELY made the $200 cutoff for free shipping at I-fit might not have.

    Can't wait to see how your order turns out!

  7. Mrs. Melva, I am always jealous of Canadians who can order from I-fit without the high shipping...although Adena is much cheaper for me regardless. I ordered from I-Fit in the past when an order from Montessori Concepts (DON'T use them!) came and was unusable and I couldn't contact customer service. I think there are a couple of things (like the geometric cabinet) that must be ordered from a higher-rung company so that they are usable. I likewise had a great experience with I-Fit's customer service.

  8. Anonymous,

    Thank you, I'm sure there are readers who will make use of that alternate (and perhaps more useable) source for the card files. I think having to buy the file might make it more expensive than ordering from a company, but on the other hand maybe not with the way the prices are increasing. It just takes SOOO many hours to make those things...

  9. Neptune,

    I used the lists in the Gettman as my "list." If you don't have the Gettman, there are some free versions of that list available online. Good luck!

  10. Neptune,

    I also meant to add that I used the information from "Montessori at Home" (see "Bead Materials and Montessori at Home in the right sidebar of my blog under "popular posts") to decide which bead materials I needed. You only need to buy a couple of sets to have all the individual bead, bars, squares, cubes, and chains you need. You don't need to buy each individual activity like a school would.

  11. The two quadrilaterals you have pictured in this post are ones that I can't find the name for. I think the diamond-like one is called a "kite" but I don't have the name for the other (and it is not represented in Gettman).

    Do you know the name?


    P.S. I have ordered from Montessori Outlet, Adena, and IFIT and I think IFIT is by far the best with shipping time, customer service, and quality. Outlet's quality is good but shipping is often delayed. I have been displeased with Adena's quality and problems with orders and I won't order there again.