Buying age-appropriate materials is tricky, especially when you are trying to find materials that work for multiple or all age groups. The speaker in the video made a good point of “less is more” or similarly, simple is better. You don’t need a super diverse array of materials necessarily; that can be expensive and time-consuming to accrue. Instead, having a lot of blocks and other simple materials that can be used in countless ways is smarter and cheaper.
Using household items is something we do at our school. When we teach our kids about different concepts, we often find household items and applications in order to strengthen their understanding. Giving multiple, real-world, tangible examples is a good way to generalize concepts and it’s cheaper than buying new materials.
We are huge proponents of donated materials. In fact, we have received many books and toys from fundraisers
Storing and organizing materials is almost as important as the materials themselves. You can have the best materials in the world, but if teachers and students have a hard time finding them or accessing them, the potential for learning and teaching is inherently limited.
Having clear bins with distinct labels within a child’s reach is very important, especially with Montessori teaching methods like ours. We encourage children to actively pursue their own interest at their own pace, so their ability to access desired items easily is important to that model.
I also like the “it should feel like home” notion. We spent a good deal of time and money on renovations to make our center look like a hybrid of home and facility, which we don’t regret, but I very much see the merits of creating a space like a home. Since much of their time will be spent in a home environment, it’s beneficial for kids to learn things in that environment so they can generalize concepts more easily to their home
We are already very efficient with storage, but the idea of rotation is one we hadn’t really given much thought. For one, the world is a dynamic place – things change, move around, etc – so the rotation of materials can keep kids on their toes and simulate this dynamic in their school environment. It’s a good opportunity for kids to have to search for missing items and reason as to their location by reading labels and considering environmentally-appropriate locations
Taking advantage of the outdoors is a passion of mine, and a mission of our school. There are a ton of research studies that show countless benefits of kids being outside, interacting with nature. Additionally, it can be much cheaper to entertain and teach kids with a natural environment vs. having to provide artificial materials indoors. I also like the “temperature doesn’t matter” section. So many parents these days don’t think their children can withstand a little heat or cold, but these weather patterns are great educational opportunities spanning issues like appropriate attire, water cycles, seasonal plant and animal life, and much much more.