Thursday, July 15, 2010

Other $1 Finds

I forgot to post about my other finds the other day.  I stopped in at Michaels.  I was looking for dollhouse items for my phonetic object boxes but apparently Michaels does not carry these or at least not at my store.  So while browsing, I found their $1 aisle.  I could have gone crazy but I restrained myself!  Anyway they had these little items called CrazErasers.  I had not heard of them but apparently they are very popular as Amazon had the same sets listed at $5.99.  There are some gross ones like a toilet with "stuff", but they also have some food items so I picked up ones that had a hot dog, a tray, bread and "jam"-the jam comes off so it will go in my pink box, cereal "box", milk.  These are not flimsy little erasers like Oriental Trading sells.  They are quite thick, 3d, and have some "weight" to them.  Should hold up okay. 
I ended up with lots of short a items for my pink boxes and a few items for my blue and greeen boxes between these and my order from miniature marketplace.  So I bit the bullet and ordered a pink and blue phonetic object box from Montessori 123.  Has anyone ordered from this company?  Hope they are worth it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Finds for Montessori Educators (others may like them too!)

I visited my local Dollar Tree yesterday.  I picked up some locker organizers which are perfect for holding/displaying 3 part cards and some of the small locker organizers for holding/displaying smaller card material. 
-(Speaking of small card material, please post how you organize your phonetic material.  I love the little drawer organizers but the ones I've seen the drawers don't come out so I don't know how the children get them from the drawer to their area without spilling.  I found some cool very small containers with pink lids at Hobby Lobby but no blue or green :(
Okay, back to Dollar Tree-in the toy section they have wooden cut out type numbers with math symbols (they are also magnetic-which adds a nice work option).  These are perfect for math work.  I picked up 4 packs of these.

I have just about finished getting all my materials that I've made printed, laminated, cut-out, and stored for easy finding.  I still have to make pink phonetic booklets and blank booklets for phonics work.  I have also created my own blue lined papers for writing work .I will be posting these on teacherspayteachers as a digital download pack for $3.  These include marker paper for teacher/child writing, single lined strips for letter work or individal word/sentence writing, and story paper.  These are based on the papers in the book, Montessori in the Classroom. 

I have recently purchased Montessori Today and am reading it.  I like it but not nearly as much as Montessori in the Classroom.  I wish there was a publication of all Mrs. Polk's diary entries.  I think I could learn so much from her writing about the classroom!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Calendar Work

As mentioned in previous posts, I fell in love with the book, "Montessori in the Classroom" and
I'm using it to plan for August. One of the ideas I fell in love with was the monthly calendar making. This is great for life skills, number sequence, number formation, and more. I have created 2 sets of calendars for August-December for my class. One set is completely traceable and the other has the number grid blank. The traceable on can be used as a model for advanced students and students having difficulty can trace them each month. These are available at for $1 for the Aug-Dec. set. When I finish the spring set, I will post those there too. Please note that I am not doing this to "make lots of money". I receive $.30 from each dollar item I sell. My hope to get a little back for the time I have invested to help me with new materials for my class.

New Sources for Materials!

I have been a busy beaver-busy at planning for school in August (and my house shows it!). At this time I am rewarding myself with a few minutes at the computer for each household task I complete.
As I mentioned previously, I finally bought and read, "Montessori in the Classroom". If you haven't read it, it is a wonderful source for anyone teaching multiple children in a Montessori way. After reading it I really pondered with the idea of using insets for design with my "firsties".
I wondered if their developmental level would make them useless after a few months, but many people on the Montessori email rings convinced me that they would continue to be used so I took off on a quest to find an inexpensive set. Not as easy as it sounds. Yes, some sights have an inexpensive set or a plastic set but by the time you factor in their shipping costs-they are not that cheap! So I am sharing with you the fruits of my labor...

I discovered that Didax Learning Materials makes a set called, "Montessori shapes". I searched the internet w/0 finding a great price so I went to
One company, Wizard of Math, offers them for $21.96 and factor in the 8.99 shipping=$30.99
Now, I have my insets but I need the tracing tray. Amazon doesn't have them. I checked Adena, Caliber Montessoir, and Ifit. They have them for around $12 but when you factor in their shipping cost, it's not such a great deal. I ended up buying from KidAdvance (I have no previous experience with them, so I'm crossing my fingers!). Their's is $13.99 and shipping for the one item is $8. I went ahead and ordered a few more small items I needed such as replacement smallest cube for pink tower, a clearance priced map of North America, and a few puzzles on clearance. With these additional my shipping only went up to $14 which is not bad for Montessori ordering. (Housework break)
I'm back and will now share another cool find of mine...
I am wanting to build up my phonetic material for the upcoming year. I have toyed for 2 years now with the idea of using the phonetic objects. I know I can use pictures, but those little things are so darn cute! After rereading Paula Polk Lillard this morning, I came across another rationale for them-the small motor skills it builds by the children having to use the pincher grasp (what they need for good penmanship) to pick them up. So that sold me. I had intended to hit Dollar General and Hobby Lobby in my quest for cheap little objects. Then I had the idea to check since I already had an order pending and maybe I could save a little on shipping. While browsing there I came across the goldmine in the sponsered links at the bottom of the page. I found a site, called, Miniature Marketplace and went in search. They have a section called special deals. Here is a copy of what I ordered and the cost for my pink phonetic objects:
IM66250 - WASH TUB1.78
IM65003IM65003 - BEACH TOYS2.10
IM65044IM65044 - FRYING PAN0.85
IM65039 - VANITY SET 1.70
IM65045IM65045 - CLOCK1.05
IM65060IM65060 - COPPER POTS1.45
IM65024IM65024 - BEAGLE1.25
IM65221sIM65221- BROWN CRAFT BAG0.71
B1SANTA HAT - B10.25
w162 WHITE CUPS - 0.30
G4758LARGE HAY BALE - 0.7510.75
IM65446IM65446 - CAT, GREY TABBY 1.57
RYK4155RYK4155 - MOPS, 2 PCS 1.26
RYN5505RYN5505 - LARGE MUG0.63
Shipping was a mere $5.85 so all these items for a total of $24-most of the sets include more than one item so I also have replacements.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Couple of New Cheap Finds!

I had the opportunity to go to Target while in Indianapolis over the weekend. I did not have a mask for the blindfold activities and was wanting to find one as my kids are still in the sensorial period at the beginning of the year. I found one in their Dollar Spot. They had pink, green, and blue and they are kid size! I got the green one. If you need storage ideas, they have lots of neat tubs and things right now.
At Dollar General I picked up a $1 foam puzzle of bones of the body that I am going to try to see if my son is interested in using this summer, then I will take it to school. I also bought a pack of 30 squares of sandpaper for $2 and 2 packs of colored cardstock for $2 each. I am going to use these to make sandpaper letters for my 2 1/2 year old and might make the green digraph letters for school too!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Green Phonetic Material

If you haven't figured out from my posts yet, I love finding great materials that are cheap or free. Unfortunately, most of the free providers of phonetic material have run out of time or energy before they have gotten to the green level material. I had forgotten about the green materials that I downloaded from My Montessori Journey. I love her idea of using letter stamps for the children to stamp the words if their coordination is not ready to write (I have 4 sets of the traceable letter stamps). I have also have some cool phonics stamps that I am going to use with the phonetic material that I got with a grant from Lakeshore Learning.

Another source that I had forgotten about is The Prepared Environment. I love their dollar store. I have the phonogram 3 part cards and will probably download their phonogram folders because I think it is well worth the $2 to have them already made!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Planning for Next Year's Class

The kids are gone. My room is not packed up yet because my little one ended up with tonsilitis on the day I was supposed to do it. Right now, I am sitting on a boat in Tn. working on planning for next year. I wanted share some wonderful free links that I plan on using for next year's class.

One area I was very unhappy with was my language center. I want to add word lists and more phonetic reading material so I am going to use the free material from GoldMark Montessori.
Here are links for various material that I am going to use:
Pink word lists including sentences and phrases
Blue word lists including sentences and phrases
pink and blue command cards
farm words for grammar
***I ordered this farm set from Amazon
Grammar Extension Cards

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wonderful Morning!

The kids came in today so much more settled than they have the past few weeks. They chose a book to read and then copied 2 sentences into their language notebook and labeled the nouns. Most of them have finally gotten the concept of noun!
Then I had a modified contemporary work choice board for them. I had 5 computers up with various programs, 2 DVD centers with reading programs, Leap Pads, and then some workbook work. Not surprisingly, no one chose to work in their workbooks. I was so happy with how "into" their work they were today. They were well focused and worked for much longer periods, not running from activity to activity as they did before. (This is so sad that I finally have them where I want them and now they are leaving my room!) While they worked, I observed from afar and worked on putting away things from the math shelves. I would have liked to left everything out until that last day, but realistically I realized that if I did, I would be spending a week after the children leave packing up the room. They will help me on the last days to clean the room and get it ready for the summer floor waxing.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Where Did the Year Go?

I can't believe it is almost time to pack up the room! As I reflect back on the year, there are things I am very pleased with and of course, things I wished I'd done differently!
What is it about educators, we are always striving to do it better next time?

One thing I am most pleased with is the fact that my students had very little "busy" work in workbooks and worksheets that was done this year. Mostly, only the few times I had a substitute teacher and I am ashamed to admit it-a little at the end of the year when they have been so restless! According to our grade level benchmarks, my students' calculation skills are equivolent to the children who do mulitple drill sheets each day. I really loved teaching again this year.

For those things I wish I'd done differently:
*new materials-I used my classroom school funds to order materials that I really thought I needed when school started. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived (after January) my students had "outgrown" them. I was very upset but after reading Paula Lillard Polk's book, Montessori in the Classroom, I believe I can glean some multiple purposes from them. She talks about how her students use of the map puzzles, labeling, and map making helped them build and refine their fine motor skills for writing and learn to read through writing. She also disusses how she used materials Maria designed for much younger children for remedial purposes and for those children who are restless or emotionally drained because they "drop" a developmental level. Even though my students are a year older than the ones she discusses in her book, I often have children who are developmentally delayed or who have "missed" developmental experiences and are lacking in fine motor and/or language development.
those biology and anatomy puzzles will have some life in my classroom after all. I plan to demonstrate tracing and labeling in those first few days, so the children can get started using the puzzles right away.

*reading, Montessori in the classroom before this school year had started. I had several people recommend this book. However, in my undergraduate studies I had purchased a book in which she had written or written the forward. I never got "into" the book, so I resisted purchasing this one. What a difference it could have made, if I had read this over the summer! I plan to post a much more indepth discussion of the book in the next few weeks.