Cost for One Year of Montessori At Home

27 Sep

For 2 children, age 2.5 to 3.5.

I haven’t tracked the cost of each item, but since I started using the Montessori at Home approach a year ago, I have kept track of general categories of costs. I wanted to share those today:

  • Trays, bowls, and other larger display containers: $98.95
  • Theme materials (Toob figures, seasonal art supplies, pouring materials, items for our continent studies, etc.): $163.60
  • Utensils and special pitchers for pouring: $59.19
  • Traditional Montessori materials, including purchased and DIY: $311.50
  • Art and school supplies: $42.65
  • All printing and laminating: $21.18 (counted as I print or laminate — so that doesn’t include the up-front cost of buying a ream of paper or a box of laminating sleeves).

Total: $696.97

Average cost per month: $58. I’d hoped to spend $50 per month, plus an up-front purchase of about $100 and an annual big purchase of about $150 (total of $850 for the first year), so I’m actually good on budget so far!

I already had a printer, laminator, scissors, paper cutter, rotary cutter, rulers, etc.  The printer & laminator are great — they make it so that my cost to print a sheet (in color) and laminate it are just about 13 cents! This makes refreshing our shelves with themed materials so much easier.



Where I saved:

  • DIY Pink Tower. Yes, it’s made from foam. Yes, it took me a while. But, it has held up very well (we’ve been using it weekly for an entire year without any issues!) I spent $8 rather than around $50.Diy foam Montessori pink tower
  • DIY Color Tablets. Jenga-style blocks painted by hand. I spent $4 rather than about $40. (I made 6 gradients for each primary & secondary color, plus some others — this photo only shows part of our set.) wpid-20160112_143738-1.jpg
  • Substitute Shape Tracing. We used plastic shape stencils for about $6 rather than the $80 metal version with a stand. Ours don’t have the inner shape, so we lose some fine-motor work, but we’re doing fine.20160617_121219.jpg
  • Substitute Shape Learning. We used Melissa & Doug shape magnets for $6 on sale rather than the $150 geometric cabinet. Yes, there are lots of fine details we’ll miss, but I think we’re OK!
  • Geometric figures. We used an unpainted wood set (which was a gift, but I think cost about $12) rather than the full blue-painted set for about $60. Our set does not include all figures, admittedly.
  • Movable Alphabet. Thanks to lucky finds at consignment sales and family giving us useful gifts, we spent just $10 on one set of additional letters and some foam to make dividers for a box (this photo only shows about half our letters).20160819_231807-1.jpg
  • Sandpaper Letters. I actually spent $13 on a set of small sandpaper letters (Didax ones, from Amazon) and we used them for a while, but I didn’t like the small size. So, I spent about $10 on sandpaper, mod podge, and foam core board to make a larger set.

Where I spent:

  • Knobbed Cylinders. $140. There’s no way to make this yourself without specialized woodworking supplies. I thought for months about a way to make it from other materials, but never came up with anything.
  • Spindle Box. $30. There are easy DIY options, but the spindles are just gorgeous to touch.

Notable things I skipped:

  • Knobless Cylinders. They look amazing, but we’ve lived without them.
  • We’re not up to the math (bead) materials yet.

Other notes: (stop reading unless you really care about the fine print!)

  • We haven’t gotten any actual Montessori materials as gifts, but we have gotten many Toob sets, letter magnets for our Movable Alphabet, and even quite a few fun pitchers and utensils as Christmas and Birthday gifts.
  • I shop for trays almost exclusively at Thrift stores, but have picked up a few of our most durable plastic trays (for wet works) at restaurant supply and IKEA.
  • I had a pretty good stash of random craft supplies including scraps of paper, etc — so there are probably a few dollars’ worth of supplies not accounted for.
  • Many people will say that you can recoup the cost of traditional (wooden) Montessori materials if you re-sell them in a few years, so you shouldn’t be as worried about the cost. Maybe true. But, you might also lose pieces, damage them, or the market for them could collapse — not to mention the hassle of finding a buyer and dealing with shipping heavy items! So, I like to think about the costs here & now, rather than thinking what I could recoup if I sold things in a few years.
  • Some people also justify the cost of Montessori at Home by comparing it to sending a child to a traditional Montessori preschool. I don’t consider this a valid comparison because I’m not paying myself for my time being my children’s teacher (nor the lost opportunity that I’m not working for pay while they’re in school). We also decided I needed a break from the kids, so we do send our kids to a one-day/week Mom’s Day Out program during the school year. I haven’t factored that into our cost, since it’s not directly related.

Book Club: Leaf Week

26 Sep

This week’s primary book for the Weekly Virtual Book Club for Kids (see my overview here) was “Leaf Man” by Lois Ehlert. It has nice graphics, but I didn’t really like it — why was there a man who was a leaf? Personal preference, but it wasn’t for me. As a secondary suggestion, we picked up “Bear Has a Story to Tell” by Philip Stead. We’re familiar with the Bear stories (from their inclusion in Chick-Fil-A meals, honestly). The talking animals aren’t my favorite, but the stories are usually decent. Both stories primarily served to get us talking about Autumn and leaves. Here in Central Texas, autumn doesn’t look the same as it does in New England or the Midwest, so we have to improvise a bit when it comes to fall color.

I really liked this beginning sounds tree activity, but the free printable file included “kite” which is a confusing one (/c/ and /k/ phonetically sound pretty much identical) and I wanted to include other beginning sounds as well (we’re working on the single letter phonemes presently). So, I printed this beginning sounds match game and selected just the images that match with a consonant sounds (/t/, /h/, /d/, etc). I sorted them into 2 piles (one for each of my daughters) so each had an image to go with each consonant (i.e. one got tree, house, and dinosaur while the other got train, horse, and duck). And, yes, I included x just because (no words in English actually start with the /x/ sound).


I took two pieces of newsprint and drew very rough tree shapes. Then, I had the kids each stick one set of images to their tree.


After the glue dried, I took some fake leaves (from Dollar Tree) which I had written single consonants on, and we tried to match the graphic symbol to the starting sound.
This might sound like a lot of prep but I had it done in less than a half-hour (and that included a lot of thinking time). I bet you can do it in 15 minutes. Go! 🙂


You know I’m not coming up with much when I have this many art activities… Sigh. It’s been one of those weeks! Besides, I think we’ll do more leaf activities with our actual Montessori materials & methods in November.


We made handprint trees with fingerprints for leaves. They didn’t turn out as expected, but it’s more about the process than the end result, right?


I think we’ll also pull out an oldie but a goodie and make some clear contact-paper/tissue paper leaves to decorate windows with. See here for inspiration. The picture here is the version we did 2 years ago (when my girls were about a year and a half old!)

We’ve had a lot of rain, so what few leaves we have are soaking wet, but later in the week we’ll try to go on a nature walk to collect leaves for the Leaf Man/Leaf Woman craft activity, as reflected here. (Yes, it goes with the story which I didn’t like that much, but hey… maybe my kids will like it!)

All for now! Happy reading!


Making lemonade. Simple syrup first. #montessoriathome

23 Sep
Making lemonade. Simple syrup first. #montessoriathome via Instagram

Play for All Abilities Park Expansion

23 Sep

I’m happy to have been able to talk to the Round Rock Parks & Recreation Department staff about our experiences at Play for All Abilities Park – generally and when Leah was in a Spica cast for a broken leg. I hope you enjoy this video and that you’ll consider making a donation at

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Virtual Book Club: Friendship Theme

23 Sep

Virtual Book Club for Kids: Should I Share My Ice Cream?

(See overview here)

This is a cute book and I expect that it (and other Elephant & Piggie books) will get a lot of love out of my daughters once they start reading (despite the fact that Elephants and Pigs aren’t friends, don’t talk, and all that nonsense – hehe). It’s a cute story about friendship, sharing, and what happens when ice cream melts, but I didn’t see much else that would tie to our Montessori-Inspired approach. But, we were unexpectedly able to do a special activity that related. And, soon, we’ll attempt to replicate that activity at home.

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Posted in General


PHOTO: Color mixing

14 Sep

Color mixing 101. #preschool #montessoriathome via Instagram


PHOTO: Japan for Shan!

13 Sep

“Has your friend Shan been there?” Yes, but not on a parasail! At least I don’t think so! 🙂 #landairwater #montessoriathome via Instagram

PHOTO: mandala art

13 Sep

I bet you can’t guess which one I made! 😉 #montessoriathome #preschool #glue #mandalas via Instagram


PHOTO: setting up new things

13 Sep

There are times I wonder why I keep doing this. But, really, we’ve come a long way. Yes, they’re going to spill things on the floor, but better to learn it now than later. #montessoriathome via Instagram

Montessori-Inspired Continent Activities: Asia (for 3 year olds)

13 Sep

Our continent-based study continues. I’ve caught both girls singing the continents song, and they’ve engaged with flag activities a fair bit. So, I’ll call it mostly a success from that standpoint. It has been a great success, however, in inspiring me to come up with new ways to do the exercises of practical life. I was getting pretty burned out over pouring activities, but having these themes has re-inspired me. So… we’re on to Asia.

We started talking about Asia by grabbing a few books, one of them Japan in Colors, which we picked up in honor of my friend Shan‘s birthday. 🙂 Hopefully during the next few weeks of doing Montessori-Inspired Asia activities, they’ll know a little more about the largest continent.

And, it really is large! Boiling that many different cultures and countries down to something understandable by 3 year olds means I’m oversimplifying and leaving out a lot. Fine. I’m not expecting graduate level knowledge at this age. 🙂

Read the overview here.


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