Monday, May 24, 2010

Practical Life: Building a Bead Cabinet

All of our new materials arrived last week! (Almost.) It was a lot of work to pull everything out and inspect it. Yikes. However, I have learned from experience that I have to or risk finding out six months later that something doesn't work the way it should or is missing pieces. This meant I had to not only unwrap, but complete things like the hundreds board, Pythagoras board, Pythagoras table, and count hundreds of bead bars. I really wish I could have left the bead cabinet in its box because our house is for sale and we don't need it right away. We haven't even started the limited bead materials yet, it might be a year before we need all of the bead chains, cubes and squares available. However, I had to assemble it now to be sure that we had all of the pieces and that it assembled properly. Fortunately, I had a lot of help. Kal-El worked with me the entire two hours it took to put the cabinet together.

First, I opened the box and removed as much loose styrofoam as I could. Then, Kal-El vacuumed most of the little styrofoam fuzzies out. Next, he was responsible for unwrapping each of the 19 pieces of wood (individually wrapped in paper), as well as finding the bags of hardware and the instructions.

He looks just like his Bumpa (my Dad) in this picture. Kal-El insisted that we both wear hard hats for safety.

After the pieces were unwrapped, they had to be vacuumed again because most of them still had styrofoam junk all over them.

Kal-El's favorite part was laying out the pieces. I was a little worried at this point because the the pieces were not labeled. Also, the instructions told me what order in which to do the assembly but did not describe the appearance of the pieces or provide a diagram that showed any differences. So I'm looking at 19 pieces of wood and the instructions say "put the first back piece into the bottom support." Hmmmm. It was a bit of puzzle, but if Me Too can do the binomial cube I could master this!

Once I figured out what the nine shelf pieces looked like I asked Kal-El to build a "stair" out of them and bring them to me in order using the appropriate sensorial vocabulary.

Next, it was time for Kal-El to review using the allen wrench! The last time I remember using one of these with him was when he helped me build Me Too's kitchen chair.

We had to take a little break about halfway through the assembly process...I was tired! I poured us each a drink. I took mine to the couch, lay my head back, put my feet up on the coffee table and said "ahhhhhh!" I don't usually allow drinks in the family room, but told Kal-El it was a special treat. He climbed up on the couch, lay his head back, put his feet up on coffee table and said "ahhhh!"

Finally we finished! Tada!

I never imagined it would be so big!

While I am thinking of it...a materials order update. I ordered all on the same day from three companies: Adena, I-Fit, and Montessori Outlet. I received all three orders on the same day (I think I ordered on a Thursday and received everything the following Wednesday...less than a week later). I had the least communication from Montessori Outlet of all places. In fact, today they finally sent me an e-mail which stated that my order status had been changed from "pending" to "shipped." (No kidding, like I said, I received the materials last week.)

I-Fit: Everything was in good condition and accounted for.

Montessori Outlet: Everything accounted for. I am really glad I used them for my fraction circles because those are the type of thing that have to be precise. I am very disappointed in the quality of the Pythagoras Table. The "plastic tiles" are so thin I thought they were card stock at first. They do not lay flat. Also, not their fault, but the small black movable alphabet I bought to use with my red/blue one from Adena is much smaller than the movable alphabet from Adena. I will need to order a medium one which still won't match, but will be close enough.

Adena: For the first time ever everything that arrived had all of its pieces and was in perfect condition. Of course, being Adena, they could never live with themselves if they got it all right the first time. I ordered the "complete bead materials with cabinet." They sent the cabinet, but no bead materials. I contacted them Friday and received a reply today stating that they would ship in the next 3-4 days.

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  1. I am very proud of both of you!!

    Looks great!


  2. Looks great! How much was your bead cabinet from Adena? In my experience, the things I've ordered from them have not held up well. Both dressing frames that I ordered this year have already broken. They didn't even last a whole school year. The binomial cube that I bought is much smaller than the Nienhuis version, came chipped and the box doesn't shut flush unless you put the lid on. I'm a box of complaints today. In your opinion, do you think the prices (which are pretty low) are worth the not-so-great quality?

  3. congratulations to you & Kal El on putting that bead cabinet together - doubt that I could have done it. He was very wise to insist on the hard hats. Pool looks like fun, we had a skiff of snow this morning, so I am jealous. Sun is out now, thank goodness.

  4. P.S. Montessori,

    You are right, their dressing frames are terrible. We are fine with ours, but the buckles one was not really usable.

    I didn't realize our binomial was smaller than usual until yesterday when I saw a picture of another little boy using one on a blog and thought "hmmm, that looks bigger..." The blessing is, I've never seen a "real" one so we don't know the difference. If it came chipped and the box didn't close they probably would have replaced it had you complained. My binomial closes really well (it feels really slick actually) and was not chipped when it arrived. I think it is now. I once read that a child can chip the Neinhuis stuff just as well as they can chip the cheap stuff but I don't know if that's true or not.

    The cabinet seems to be of good quality. The wood seems nice and it was not chipped or warped in anyway. It's a little tippy on the wheels. I think I will anchor it to the wall. The price...I don't see where they list it separately.

    Adena's complete bead material (squares, cubes, long and short bead chains) WITH the cabinet is $250. I-Fit is always my next "tier" up. Their beads ONLY were $304. The cabinet would have been an additional $168. My next tier up is Montessori Outlet: Beads $288, cabinet $128. Alisons is $400 for the beads, $160 for an economy cabinet and $400 for the premium.

    Is it worth it? If you look in the comments section of the "so-called sale at Adena" post I list my grand totals from all the different companies. I saved maybe $340 total. For us at home, that's a big deal. Also, my materials only have to make it through two highly-supervised children. If I were buying for a classroom it would be better to spend more for things that would last longer.

    Some things I would order from Mont Outlet because they need to be precise (although I-Fit has been fine): geo cabinet, insets, cylinders, fraction circles. Some things I think it's hard to mess up. How bad can a hundreds board really get?

    Someone commented that for the $300 difference they would rather have their order right the first time. That's true if you have the money. Yeah, they forgot to send my beads but I'll have them later this week and it wasn't worth $300 to me to have them last week.

    You and I are in TOTALLY different situations on this though. Like I said, ignorance is bliss :)

  5. I ordered from Adena recently and nothing seemed wrong with it, but I'm about to go count beads!

  6. I actually own a few Neinhuis items because a school no longer wanted them and they are chipped. However, the wood is of a stronger kind than IFIT and etc.

    I can't wait to see you post about your bead cabinet material activities. We've been doing the squaring chains these days and it's been fun.

  7. I think what you are doing with your kids is really great! I would love to be able to do something like that with mine. How much do you think you have spent already on materials/supplies?

    Also, (you may have a post about this, so I'll have to go look, but...) where did you get your training for this? What do you recommend for a beginner?

  8. You know - I'd love to see a post about your experiences with all of the different material companies that you order from.

    I also just put up a post on sensorial extensions with pictures that you might enjoy.