Easy DIY Montessori materials
With its focus on learning through exploration and play, Montessori theories and practices are a great way to support your child’s development whether you’re homeschooling full time or not. While some websites make it seem like you need to spend thousands on particular, expensive, wooden toys to be a successful Montessori parent, at La-la-llama we believe that creating a fun, educational environment for your kids can – and must be – affordable so it’s accessible to as many people as possible. As parents ourselves, we’ve filled our online shop with specific items (such as our fab busy boards!) that are hard to make at home but we also love and use DIY solutions to keep our kids busy, happy and learning. Below you’ll find a few of our favourite makes from around the web.
Matching colours and shapes
A great way to develop concentration. There are so many different ways to create your own matching game that it’s hard to choose one, so here are three! One is to print out two identical pages of pictures or pick up two free magazines and cut out matching pairs. Another easy option is to lay out a piece of paper in several colours and add a basket of materials found from around the house (a red toy, a blue spoon...). If you’re ready for more of a challenge, we love these maths blocks from Kindling Kids Montessori Home School which are great for toddlers to match and will also help older kids understand decimals.
Fine motor skills
From jigsaws and busy boards to hammering, using tweezers or tongs, drawing and crafts, there are so many easy ways to support fine motor skill development using the stuff that you have at hand. Anastasia at Montessori Nature has created this wonderful list of 20 simple to set up Montessori activities, many of which are ideal for fine motor skills and also use things you can find around the house.
While you might think of hand-eye coordination in terms of throwing and catching or other sporting skills, activities like water pouring, lacing and bead threading are also great ways to get kids to use both hands and their eyes in sync. If you’re looking for inspiration, this round up from Natural Beach Living links to lots of other great resources, giving you loads of DIY Montessori ideas to try.
Exploring the senses
Learning to use our senses, gaining familiarity with different sights, tastes, textures, sounds and smells, and learning the words to describe them helps kids make sense of the world around them and also to process it without being fearful. Cherine at Making Montessori Ours offers a fantastic list of the Montessori materials her family have made. A few involve power tools but many are very simple and eco-friendly as they use scraps and junk.
Don’t forget smell!
Often the most neglected of our senses, smell is tied strongly both to memories and how we enjoy food. For this reason, we’re going to highlight a smelling bottles as a fun and simple Montessori tool to make at home. All you need are containers that are suitable for your child and smelly things to put inside. Vanessa at Mama’s Happy Hive has a great detailed post on how to make smelling bottles for preschoolers using leftover spice containers.
Maths and language makes
Number cards, labels, home-made games, counting cards, phonics cards… there are so many DIY ways to support maths and language development. Depending on the age of your child, making the materials might be a shared learning activity in itself: you could work together to make an alphabet poster, cut out pictures of favourite things to match with a phonics sound (‘d’ / dog) or have them write labels for toy storage. A certified and experienced Montessori teacher, Pamini at Montessori Pulse not only gives clear instructions for how to DIY Montessori maths and language materials but explains why they’re useful.
Make, use, recycle
Making your own materials can be an affordable and eco-friendly way to entertain your child and a great addition to shop bought items. We definitely recommend using clean, safe scraps and junk, such as empty plastic bottles, to expand your Montessori at home resources. At La-la-llama, the high quality materials we choose are fundamental to the products we create. Check out our online shop to find busy boards and other great Montessori resources that you might not want to make at home.