02 December 2013

Creating Montessori at Home

As a Montessori credentialed stay at home mom, it is hard to not bring in Montessori philosophy into our day to day lives.  I decided to go a step further and create some of the materials that are in a Montessori classroom to have in our home.  Many of the materials are too expensive for me to buy, and since we are sending Cora to ChildLight Montessori School next year, there really isn't a point to invest in them.  So I am doing homemade versions.  There are so many resources out there for homeschool Montessori (I follow this blog on Facebook) and many of the materials in a Montessori classroom are easily made with common items. 

Although I think Cora is ready for a few sandpaper letters, I started with homemade "metal" insets.  Metal insets are a series of ten shapes that include the (usually) pink frame and blue inset.  The shapes are: square, circle, triangle, oval, ellipse, rectangle, trapezoid, pentagon, curvilinear triangle, and quatrefoil (the one that looks like a flower).
An artsy shot
In the classroom, the child chooses one frame or inset at a time.  There is special paper cut to the exact size of the frame, 5 1/2 inches square.  There are so many lessons that are a part of the metal insets.  The child's sense of order is refined because the shape (frame or inset) is placed on a special tray with the paper and a certain number of colored pencils, in my old classroom it was a limit of three.  Once the child is done with a certain shape they must return it to the shelf before choosing another inset.  This material can be used to help the child learn and remember shapes by making a shapes book.  It is in the Language area of the classroom because it is a pre-writing activity.  The child is encouraged to form the shapes in a counter clockwise motion - as you form your letters in handwriting.

For my project, I saved enough cereal boxes to create 10 frames and cut out 5 1/2 inch squares.   Then I found this website with templates for cutting out the shapes.  I was glad I didn't have to free-hand it. 
I used the examples in my Language Curriculum Album to make sure the templates were the right size.
After drawing the shapes on my squares I used a craft knife to cut out the shapes.  I realized as I was cutting the cereal box may not hold up for very long, depending on how much they are used.  If I wanted them to last longer I might use a thin plastic, a quilting store usually has thin plastic for template making that would work perfectly.
Overall I am pleased with how they came out.  For Cora, they will be stencils to use during art time.

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