Erin asked me yesterday to share a little more about what I was gifted with from my mom’s school teaching days. My mom homeschooled me and my siblings for most of school, but depending on where we were living at the time we sometimes attended school. My mom started to teach in a private traditional early education program after my youngest siblings made the decision to stay in private school for several years. (I think 3rd through 9th grade- they were homeschooled for the last 3 years of high school). My mom did not start teaching the Montessori method, but that is where she finished her teaching career. She retired in 2008 and in going through her things she passed several items on to me. I taught at the same private school where my mom taught- I was with the traditional early childhood program in the mornings, and the 5th-12th grade strings program in the afternoons for 5 years.
The most useful thing my mom donated to me is her file crates. She has files by topic and also seasonal topics organized by the month. My mom is so much more organized than I am! This makes it easy for me to pull the monthly file and look through for ideas or when I’m planning more of a unit study on a topic I can pull her topic files. The ideas in these files are in the same vein as those found on My Montessori Journey. She put a page or two in most files listing materials she had that she could use for that month or that topic- I obviously don’t have room for an entire classroom full of materials, but she gave me a pretty good amount, and these lists help me think more creatively about how to teach a concept without the actual Montessori materials. There are also master files for paper materials like sight word cards.
As far as actual Montessori materials, we have spindles and the box, geometric solids, numbers and dots, the moveable alphabet, the binomial cube, a one hundred board, the pink tower and color box #2. She passed on a few mats to us as well, though I need to make some bigger ones. From her pre-montessori days I have a few things also- a see-and-spell kit, several alphabet matching games and a giant set of 1″ cubes. She had a stash of felt too, so I have some of that, and all of her acrylic yarn.
Probably the second most important thing I’ve been given is the use of her library. My mom has a library of hundreds and hundreds of children’s books that she collected over her teaching years. Pretty much any book that is considered a “staple” in early childhood literature is over at her house. So about once a month I shop through her books for things that fit our topics for the month and return the ones we used the last month. We still use our local library weekly, but grandma’s library is always open and a trip there is often accompanied by cookies and milk.