I love craft stores! When I step inside, I immediately feel more artistic and creative. I love to walk down each aisle slowly, imagining all the wonderful things I could make if I had the time—and money!
Craft stores are a gold mine for the Montessori teacher. Of course, we all need art supplies in our classrooms, but there are lots of other things that make nice additions to our materials. Here are my five favorites:
1. Tiny wooden shapes
These can usually be found in the woodworking aisle—and they are adorable! Basically, they’re flat, wooden painted shapes about the size of a quarter (and price of a quarter each, too). I like them for Pink, Blue, and Green Series work. I find shapes that fit each of the word schemes, and then have children pick a few at a time and spell them with the movable alphabet. They’re much less expensive than miniature objects, and just as fun.
2. Plastic art cups
While these cups are traditionally used for mixing paint, I like to use them with the land and water forms nomenclature cards. You’ll need one cup for each land form, some brown clay, and a clay tool. Let the kids roll the clay in their hands and then make each land form. Give them a pitcher of blue-tinted water to pour in each dish, and watch the land and water forms come alive!
3. Photo boxes
Cardboard photo boxes (the size of a shoebox) are extremely helpful in the classroom. A great use I just heard of recently was for continent boxes. Using one box for each continent, you fill the box with pictures, books, and objects related to that continent. I also use them to hold reading books, art supplies, and mini file folders with matching cards, art postcards, or animal research cards.
2. Silk bags
You should be able to find these in the wedding decorations section of a craft store. They come in lots of different sizes, with ribbons at the top. My favorite use is for gemstones—55 of them, plus cards that say 1-10, make a beautiful “cards and counters” work. The kids love to pull the bag closed with the ribbons. They can also hold language objects, stringing beads, or anything else that needs a beautiful touch.
1. Model animals
All kids love animals. They make any work more special. At most craft stores, you can find a variety of miniature animals. Some are grouped in containers (and slightly cheaper in quality and price), while others, like the Schleich brand, are available individually and are a little more expensive. Target now carries Schleich animals in their toy section. These animals are a great addition to: continent sets, land/air/water work, vertebrate/invertebrate sorting, types of vertebrates, biomes work, vertebrate and invertebrate nomenclature, animal kingdom charts, and more.
I’ve found these kinds of items at craft stores, dollar stores, and of course online (eBay is great).