Montessori Method. Parents’ Resources.

by Alenka

So, here are the Montessori resources that I found useful! Enjoy and please share if you discovered something that I haven’t seen yet!

Books

Websites for ordering materials or reviewing what’s there

Montessori Courses for Parents and/or Teachers

Websites for learning how to make your own materials, blogs, and free printables.

Video demonstrations of Montessori presentations, classrooms, homes.

Books

There is one of the original books by Maria Montessori that is available online for free: “The Montessori Method” by Maria Montessori .

  • Basic Montessori: Learning Activities For Under-Fives, by David Gettman. Terrific book: outlines the basics of the Montessori philosophy and has lists, charts, detailed descriptions and explanations, directions and goals for activities. I loved that many activities can be reproduced in the home environment with home tools, while for some he recommends true Montessori materials. Very useful book.
  • Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years: The Pre-School Years
    by Elizabeth G. Hainstock. This book is terrific for homeschooling parents. While Gettman’s book is applicable to Montessori school, this book actually emphasizes how to make/use home materials, making it indispensable for the at-home Montessorians!
  • Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard. For the first time I tried reading this book when my older one was just born. I never could get pass the introduction. In the introduction the author describes how her mentor emotionally exclaimed, that nobody would like her daughter for not being independent enough, and then proceeded to teach the author, how letting the kid cry in the parking lot the girl learns to rely more on herself, rather then using her mother as a human horse. I couldn’t go on – to me it was too pushy, it wasn’t teaching the little girl who is used to be carried by her mother and now, in a flash has to walk all by herself. My son has always been walking. I never used a stroller for outings, I never went anywhere where he couldn’t walk by himself. Nevertheless, this example was so anti-positive discipline and so cruel… The second time I started reading this book after my second baby was born. My attitude hasn’t changed. I still don’t like lots of the advices: early weaning, how to dress the baby, etc. When it comes to baby’s mobility – I’d recommend Doman’s approach: the book advocates so much clothes on the baby, that it would be too hard to move, and Doman’s suggestions get babies earlies physical development much further. This book proudly announces, that following author’s advice you are going to get your baby to sit unsupported by six months and to crawl at 7-8! Following Doman’s advice, my baby was sitting unsupported at 4, crawling by the end of 4th month, creeping into every possible place at six and… walking by 8! What I really liked – was the practical life chapter. The directions on how to introduce practical life activities to the little ones are absolutely wonderful: I wish it was in a list/chart structure, to make later reference easier, but the explanations are thorough and very inspiring.

Other recommended books that I haven’t had a chance to read myself yet:

  • Montessori in the Classroom
  • Dr. Montessori’s Own Handbook
  • The Advanced Montessori Method
  • How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin

Web sites for ordering materials or learning how to make them yourself

  • Nienhuis Catalogue: these are “official” Montessori classroom toys – well made and, unfortunately, incredibly expensive. Nevertheless this site is great: it offers a terrific reference on what materials can be useful/necessary. Afterwards, they can either be found someplace else, or made at home.
  • Educational Toys Planet: while not pure Montessori, I’ve used this site to order lots of Melissa & Doug, Educational Insights, and other great toys that can be used for Montessori activities.
  • Montessori Materials: another terrific site to use as a reference. I haven’t tried ordering from there, but I loved how all the toys have description on how it can be used
  • Local crafts store: I visited our local Michaels and discovered that it’s a dreamland for a montessori-wonna be! It has lots of raw materials, jars, wicker baskets, wooden balls, pegs, eggs, boxes, other tools that can either be used as is, or further painted and adjusted for appropriate activities.
  • Montessori in Motion: wonderful directions and explanations on wonderful Montessori mobiles – the first essential learning tool for the youngest montessorian-babies. Maria Montessori stresses the importance of early introduction of the sensorial activities, and mobiles provide newborns with a great opportunity to exercise that: “Mobiles are an aid to the visual sense. Babies of only 2-3 days have been observed in concentration of 20-25 minutes watching the black and white images of the Munari mobile.”
  • Montessori Services: this site originally has been recommended to us by our friends kids’ Montessori school. I was ordering practical life sets from them – jugs, jars, boxes and whole activity sets – pouring rice set, color dropper set, etc. These sets arrived today. Seem very nice – everything is ready for the activity and, most importantly, suggestions and instructions are inclosed!
  • Adena Montessori: Montessori toys for a lot more affordable prices. I’ve ordered from them and I’ll definitely do it again – toys arrived fast, were packaged well, looked good, the quality was fine. No complains here.
  • Montessori Outlet: site greatly recommended by many Montessori parents. Parents who had more experience with ordering Montessori toys, rated it higher then Adena Montessori. Well, the prices are a little higher too and products look very similar on the web, while parents who used other stores, praise Montessori Outlet the most.
  • Pink House: I ordered an egg and a peg. Well made, no complains. But after I placed my order I found these items in my local Michaels for a fraction of that price. So, check your local craft store first: you might find just everything that you need – yarn, wooden eggs, pegs, etc.
  • Alison’s Montessori: I haven’t used this store, but I’ve heard many positive reviews about it’s materials.
  • Montessori Equipment: That’s the site I wouldn’t recommend. The ordering process is fine and the prices are good… too good. The products are not that good. I’ve ordered some infant toys and was really upset: Maria Montessor insisted, that toys should be simple – and beautiful. These are just simple. And cheap. The handles are so tiny, that it is very hard for little fingers to grab them. Some handles are so tiny, that it is hard for my adult fingers to pull – I am currently replacing them by myself! Some items are not done right -there is a sorting box, where you insert the triangular prism at the top, and take it out either by opening a small door, or by putting your hand through the circular opening in the door. Opening is so small, that you can’t even push a prism through it, forget about a hand! Many items are choking hazards – balls that are perfect for blocking the windpipe, disks, etc. All toys that we’ve got have a label, that states that it shouldn’t be used by children younger then…4! Wait, but these are infant-toddler toys!! Very-very disappointing.

Websites for making your own materials, reading other “montessorian’s” blogs and getting free printables

Websites for making your own materials, reading other “montessorian’s” blogs and getting free printables

First of all, there are a number of yahoo groups that you can join for more advice:

  • Montessori Homeschooling: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/playschool6/
    - terrific group for homeschooling parents. Wonderful community of parents, lots of materials, ideas, suggestions.
  • Montessori Online: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/montessori_online/
    - this group seems more oriented for professional Montessori teachers, then parents. Lots of wonderful discussions, but not everything is applicable in the home environment.
  • Printable Montessori Materials-HEATHER: http://www.montessorimaterials.org
  • Direction in Making Materials + 5 Sub groups-DAISY: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/montessorimakers/
  • Buying/Selling Materials-MARY: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Montessori_Swap/
  • Montessori Marketplace-KAREN: AMS Certified teacher instructed lessons and a place to purchase materials

    http://www.amontessorimarketplace.com/

  • Files Shared for Montessori Material Making: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mm_share/
  • Training Happy Hearths – Martianne: http://traininghappyhearts.blogspot.com/2010/04/montessori-monday-montessori-in-bag.html
  • Livable Learning through Montessori-SUZANNE: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/livablelearning/
  • Livable Learning/Preparing the Home and the Heart-SUZANNE:

Video demonstrations of Montessori presentations, classrooms, homes

15 thoughts on “Montessori Method. Parents’ Resources.

  1. James

    Hi,

    I found your comments about Montessori Equipment are not all true. If you are a serious buyer, you should contact us about those “issues” before postting it. We provide excellent customer services, and we earned our reputation for that.

    If that post was submitted by other person, please have that person contact us directly. Meanwhile, please take that post offline.

  2. Alenka Post author

    I’ve got to admit, that your post greatly improved my opinion about your company as a whole and its customer service. Nevertheless I stand by my original review of the quality of the products: I find it very mediocre. Over the months of using the materials that I’ve received, my opinion just worsened: the glue on infant toys was not strong enough (i.e. some materials are falling apart even with mild AND supervised use!), the balls are too small for the safety of the little ones, the handles are uncomfortable for the little hands, the circular opening for the little hands to retrieve an object – simply not big enough, the seems on the dressing boards are not very well done. I can continue, if necessary.

    Maria Montessori indicated that toys that we present to the children shouldn’t be only educational, they should be ethsetically pleasing, to make the kids feel respected. These toys didn’t leave this impression either. The puzzle pieces are exceptionally thin, the colors are used too rarely even for Montessori simplistic approach, and when they are – quite dull. Just a bit of color would make many of these objects a lot more pleasing!The same toys from a different manufacture gave left a totally different impression.

    The materials that I’ve got contained a notice, that they are not intended for kids under three years old. I find this disclaimer peculiar (to say the least): these materials belong to the Infant/Toddler section of your site, these materials are modeled after infant/toddler materials in Montessori classroom, these materials are designed for this age group. Simply said, I am yet to see a three year old, for whom taking a ring on onto a stick and taking it back off would be educational. This disclaimer may be protects your company from legal pursuits, but not from the consumer’s common sense.

    Now, the last claim: a personal notice for “serious buyer”. Do I consider myself a “serious buyer”? I do not represent a Montessori school or a ConsumerReports testing agency: I am a homeschooling parent who values her children’s safety and satisfaction as much as my personal time. The products by montessoriquipment.com are among the most inexpensive that I’ve found. I found that the price doesn’t justify the resulting products. I trully wish I found a review like that before I placed an order.

    Why didn’t I contact the company? What for?

    So, this is a personal opinion and I hope some other parents might find it useful AND will be able to make their own decision.

    In addition to posting this reply at ChildAndMe, I emailed it to the montessoriquipment.com. I guess it can be considered “contacting a customer service directly”, if montessoriquipment prefers.

  3. Homeschooler

    Hello Alenka & James,

    As a regular customer of I-Fit Wooden Toys (a.k.a. Montessori Equipment) I would like to add my two cents worth.

    Firstly, this company has more than one line of many Montessori materials: an economy line and a premium line. I have bought some products from each of these lines and yes, there is a difference in quality. That is, naturally, to be expected.

    The items I have from the premium lines are excellent and incredibly beautiful. Other than one item that was slightly damaged in shipping, they have been very sturdy. As for the one item that broke, it was quickly and easily fixed with some carpenter’s glue. The glue hadn’t even dried before Montessori Equipment had contacted me to offer to replace it free of charge. Every time I’ve had contact with them their customer service has been fantastic.

    The items in their economy line have been good. Perhaps not phenominal, but definitely worth the money you pay. Any imperfections were minor and did not interfere in any way with the actually usefullness of the material.

    Secondly, I do not own the materials referenced in Alenka’s review, so I cannot speak to the quality of those specific materials. Sometimes the designs are not well-thought-out. Alenka, I’d encourage you not only to contact the company, but also on their website, leave a review for the specific items that displease you, giving the details why. This will not only help other shoppers, but will help if/when they decide to redesign the item.

    Thirdly, with regards to the age restrictions labelled on each box: yes it is odd that materials designed specifically for very young children have warnings against using them with children under three or four. That contradiction actually made me laugh.

    These warnings may be due to differing regulations from country to country, or it could be merely to prevent liability. Either way, this is true of so many toys that most wise parents examine and evaluate individual toys on their own merit, and on the abilities of their specific child, not simply on listed age restrictions.

    I have twin boys who are one year old. One boy I can allow to look at paper books or even to play with marbles (though I always supervise). The other boy seems to think that paper is for tearing and eating and I wouldn’t dare let him go near marbles! No matter the company, no matter the toy, check the labels, but most of all test it for yourself: yank on the knobs, pull the string, see if it might fit in a mouth (or ear, or nostril). If possible, make adjustments, and if not, put it aside until your child’s older.

    Thirdly, Alenka mentions the lack of colour and/or the dullness of the colour in the materials. I agree with her 100% – for some of the materials. For others I disagree 100%. Personally, I like the plain-wood look of many of the materials, but I can appreciate those who would prefer more colour.

    And depending on the line of materials you buy you may get brilliant, beautiful colour, or you may get more dull and muted tones. This is also true of the puzzle maps piece thickness: some lines have very thick, sturdy pieces and bright colours, others have thinner pieces and subdued hues. If you chose carefully, or e-mail the company first, you will get the kind you want. Keep in mind that thicker pieces mean much, much heavier puzzles, though!

    Fourthly, how you evaluate the materials you buy depends greatly on what you are expecting. Alenka, you thought that the purpose of the circular opening in the door of the Imbucare Box with Triangle Prism was so that the child could put their hand through the circular opening and pull out the prism. That would never have occurred to me. I thought that the circular opening was so that the child could see the prism within and so could conclude that by opening the door they could extract it. This being a stepping stone to Imbucare boxes that have doors or drawers with no circular opening through which the child can see.

    So, for those who are thinking about buying from I Fit Wooden Toys/Montessori Equipment I highly recommend them. Their customer service has been very good to me and their products have been what I wanted and on the whole, better than I expected. That said, if in doubt, call or e-mail the company first so that you know exactly what you are getting.

  4. Alenka Post author

    Very interesting points! I actually forwarded the same answer to the montessoryequipment and haven’t heard back from them.

  5. James

    Hello Alenka,

    We contacted Homeschooler directly after she shared her comments on your website.

    To improve our products and services, and to make our customer a happy buyer, we do need all kinds of feedback, no matter what it is. We will work very hard to resolve those issues and make changes as soon as possible. To help us doing that, we wish that our customers can contact us directly when they have any concerns.

    We had talked to our supplier about your comments. This supplier is one of the largest Montessori manufacturers in China. A lot of North American Montessori retailers are selling their products. Regarding the small handles, they got similar feedback from their other client. They have increased the size of handles. We checked our current inventory, they are all changed.

    As for the opening on the doors of infant boxes, my understanding is it is for kids to peek through to see the object inside, also is for opening the door.

    In terms of age restriction label, Homeschooler is right. I don’t have anything to add.

  6. Alenka Post author

    Thank you, James for contacting them directly. I actually sent the letter with the same information that I’ve shared at ChildAndMe to montessoriequipment.com as well, but haven’t ever received a reply, which is fine by me: I didn’t expect anything back in the first place. Moreover, I do not believe, that every time I buy something, I am supposed to send the manufacturer a letter with explanations how they are supposed to design their products. I am not a free Quality Assurance department. It is my personal opinion. When I buy something, I like to find out other’s personal opinions: I love reviews at Amazon, eOpinions.com, user groups. I like to return a favor by sharing good or bad things that I found with other parents. If anybody found this information helpful – that’s all I care! As for the manufacturers – the market laws of supply and demand will do the rest.

  7. Alenka Post author

    … I really wish to move on to another topic! – but I had a funny experience with these rounded holes just today, so I decided to revisit this matter once again.

    My little one was playing with the box, and I spent quite some time explaining to my one year old, that these rounded holes in the doors are for peeking only and he shouldn’t try to stick his entire hand inside. Unfortunately his listening (and especially obeying mommy!) skills are still not his strongest. Sticking his hand into tiny spaces was prevailing, and his hand kept getting stuck in the door openning. A little funny, but today the Imbucare Box is going to be retired.

    We are moving onto the multiple shape sorting boxes by Melissa and Doug.

    As as my little one moves on to experiment with other materials, I’d really would love to move on to other topics too. I would really rather have a lengthy discussion about fabulous instructions for making bead materials at Homeschooler’s site! Thank you so much for sharing it – I already got the pliers ready and can’t wait to make some math beads for my four year old Sunshine! Illustrations are very sharp and precise, directions are easy to understand and follow, and the results – are very helpful!

  8. Rebecca - Also A Homeschooler

    I recently purchased a wide variety of materials from I Fit/Montessori Equipment and I agree with Homeschooler — I was very pleased with the quality and the prices. I also thought their customer service and responsiveness to questions was excellent. I will definitely be buying from them again in the future.

    I also bought from a company called KidAdvance and was also happy with their materials.

  9. Tracey

    I saw that you mentioned Adena Montessori on your blog and I wanted to warn others about this company before they make the same mistake that I made along with several others. BUYER BEWARE!!!!!!! The low
    prices caught my attention. I made the
    mistake of only reading the reviews posted on their website. I googled Adena Montessori and reviews after my purchase and the problems I have had with the company. If I had seen the warnings before; I would have never
    ordered from them. DO NOT BUY FROM THIS COMPANY! YOU WILL BE
    HIGHLY DISAPPOINTED WITH THE CUSTOMER SERVICE AND PRODUCTS. I
    placed an order with Adena Montessori on September 24th. They didn’t ship out the package until October 9th or 10th.
    Then, I received the wrong order in the mail on October 15th. I
    have sent many e-mails and tried calling several times. They do
    not answer their phones nor do they respond promptly to messages
    left or e-mails. The e-mails I did receive from them were very
    generic. When you finally talk to someone they quickly dismiss your
    concerns and ask for an e-mail so that they can get off the phone
    with you. I am currently trying to get a refund for my money. They asked me to
    list all the materials they sent me and then responded with could you photograph them for us and weigh the boxes. Several items that I did order were either damaged or incomplete. The number cards on the Seguin boards boards did not fit the slots and the hundred board was scratched due to how they packaged the materials. I also ordered 81 unit beads and received
    50. I did receive 6 items that were NOT on my list. I am hoping to get this mess straightened out soon, but after reading the posts here. I am expecting the worst. What a waste of time and money!
    Lawyers cost money … probably more than the order. We need to get this company shut down! Please help spread the word so that other mothers and teachers do not get scammed. Thank you for your help!
    Tracey

  10. Alenka Post author

    Wow, what an experience… Very sorry to hear that, Tracy! My opinion about Adena Montessori changed a bit as well.

    I didn’t have problems while I was placing my order, but over time the paint chipped off in some places on the brown stair, and on a few other items. Otherwise I have no complains.

    I’ve heard the most recommendations for Allison Montessori. Apparently they are more expensive, but possibly the quality is better. My philosophy used to be “for the home use it doesn’t have to be the priciest”. I’ve got to admit, it changed over time – materials don’t have to be the priciest, but they should be the best quality that you can afford. I also came to a conclusion, that it is better to buy very few items, and order the others over time, as the need/interest arises. May be it comes out more on shipping, but we don’t have enough time to use every material at the same time, and over time we find some substitutes that appeal to my kids even more then traditional Montessori materials. Now I realize, that Montessori method in a classroom is quite different from the home environment.

  11. Mark

    Hello Alenka, i am based in Australia and placed an online order with Adnena Montessori supplies in September. Come October 27 i still had not received my order.I had sent many emails and tried phoning there service centre with no response. I then wrote a stern email with caps in RED stating my dissatisfaction, i finally received a response to say that the order was to be shipped from the Chinese warehouse and 2 items were still in production.They assured me the entire order would be shipped on the 17th of November 2010. On the 19th i contacted Adena Montessori again only to recive a very generic email saying ALL ITEMS ARE OUT OF STOCK! 2 months down the track i still have not received my order and they simply do not answer the phone. What an absolute waste of time, i will never recommend this organisation ever.KEEP AWAY FROM THEM.

  12. Alenka Post author

    Wow, what an experience! Thank you for sharing! I’ll surely be considering AlysonMontessori next time I need to place an order. Honestly, for a variety of materials, MontessoriServices is my favorite spot.

  13. meg hicks

    Just wanted to share my website. I am a certified Montessori teacher for children aged 0 to 12, and I make and sell all things Montessori for families with children under 3, who want to use Montessori in the home. Lots of articles, tutorials and more.

  14. Ann

    Hi
    As Adena doesn’t use proper glue, all knobs for puzzles and maps have to be glued in again, unfortunately, I’ve lost some and asked for some extra knobs. I have cylinder blocks from Nienhuis and they have sent me extra knobs for them some years ago, so I know that they send you items to repair their equipment.
    The reply from Adena really annoyed me and if anyone ever bothers buying from them, make sure you complain straight away about everything and demand a replacement. I just didn’t bother because I would have had to ask for all new maps. I should have done it, though.
    Here is their reply:
    Dear Ann
    They matched each other when the factory produced the products.If we sell you the knobs separatly,then the rest of the products are useless.
    And you could see other company who sell montessori materials ,they also do not sell these knobs separatly.
    If you tell us the case within one month ,we could replace them for you.Because It is our duty.But it has been a long time,we could not replace them for you according to our company policy.
    Hope your understanding.
    We are so sorry for this case.
    Chercy.

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