Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Being Selective in Adding Educational Material to Your Montessori Environment

NAMC montessori teacher child working with fraction skittles adding materials to montessori environment
Children are called to the beauty of Montessori materials,
like the Fraction Skittles
If you are like me, you are inundated by the seemingly constant stream of educational catalogs and emails promising the latest and greatest study aids and materials for your students. Not only do I get information on Montessori materials, I also get various catalogs and emails from other educational publishers. Browsing through them, it is easy to be lured by the promise of affordable solutions that correlate to government and Common Core standards.

So how do you decide which materials and books to add to your Montessori classroom?

First, remain true to the Montessori environment. Choose the highest quality Montessori materials you can afford. Your materials will be used repeatedly by many children over the years. Beautiful, quality materials will stand the test of time. While it may be tempting to save a few dollars, children are called to beauty. Materials that are broken, torn, or have missing pieces will not be used, and you will spend more money in the end as you mend and replace materials. Your NAMC Montessori manuals are a great place to start when determining which materials you will initially need in your Montessori environment.

Being Selective in Adding Educational Material to Your Montessori Environment

After you have purchased your Montessori materials, look at your shelves and your curriculum to see what is missing. For example, do you need some play money for your LE math shelves? Do you need a dissection kit on your UE botany shelves? These are the types of materials that you may find will enhance your prepared environment. However, there are other materials that will be less successful in a Montessori environment.

My greatest caution is to avoid mass produced workbooks. I have seen too many children simply race through just to be finished. Children rarely retain any information and that leads to re-teaching. If you are looking for additional materials, begin with the NAMC blackline masters, where you will find everything from nomenclature cards and booklets to an amazing amount of math practice. Print out the blacklines, glue them on to heavy-duty, color-coordinated cardstock, and laminate them. You can place them in a basket on the shelves for individual practice.

adding materials to NAMC montessori environment math shelf prepared environment
Color-coded math exercise cards give students the
opportunity for independent practice
 If you do find a valuable workbook to use (and there are some), before you rush to the photocopier, challenge yourself on how to make the work more Montessori. For example, a daily editing workbook can be used as a guide for daily board work. The children can copy and correct the passage in their journals and you can go over it together as a class. This also serves as the daily penmanship practice! A book of science experiments can easily be made into experiment cards and placed on the shelves.

Before you buy anything for your Montessori classroom, ask yourself these simple questions:
  • Is it beautiful?
  • Is it high quality?
  • Is it made of natural materials?
  • Is there a Montessori material that serves the same or similar purpose?
  • Can it be reused?
The most important question, however, is this: Would Dr. Montessori approve? If you can honestly answer these questions, it should fit into your Montessori environment.
As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Wednesday, August 29, 2012.


  1. The "simple questions" are helpful! I'm on a budget and want to ensure I make smart investments while I build up my collection of learning materials.


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