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).
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 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.)
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.