I get a lot of questions about albums, so I’m going to try and answer them all in one helpful post! In this post, I will also give an in-depth review of the printed Montessori albums that are available, and give some links to online albums as well.
Disclosure: I have purchased some albums from each of the companies mentioned below, but I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned, and receive no compensation from anyone if any of you decide to buy their albums.
Frequently Asked Questions About Albums
1. What are albums?
Albums are basically instruction manuals for using Montessori materials. They may be called “manuals” or “guides”. They are traditionally given to students who take the Montessori training at a training center. They also include background about Maria Montessori’s teachings, the purpose behind many of the materials, and information about child development.
2. Do you sell albums?
We do have two albums at our store: Natural Science 6-9 Album – Botany & Zoology and Geometry Album 6-9. They are in PDF file format. We have received rave reviews for both of them. We would love to make more albums but it is a very time-consuming process so we don’t have another coming out soon. We prefer to not receive questions about which album(s) might be next and when it would come out. Instead, please make sure you are signed up for our email newsletter as we announce any and all new materials, including albums, there. We do not sell anyone else’s albums.
3. Are there free albums available online?
These days, you can usually Google the name of a Montessori material (“instructions for division bead board”) and find sites and blogs with instructions and pictures pretty easily. We have found Info Montessori to be the best online album; it’s mostly for 3-6 but there is some overlap with elementary materials, especially in math:
Info Montessori (infomontessori.com)
There are also 3-6 albums available for purchase as e-books from Montessori Book that are reasonably priced and fairly well done.
4. Can I buy an album with a schedule of presentations to do day by day?
Generally, Montessori teachers do not use a pre-made day-to-day schedule, since the presentations are supposed to follow each individual child’s progress and interests. You can, however, certainly plan a week or month at a time, basing your schedule on the children you work with.
5. What albums are available, and which do you recommend?
I can’t endorse any specific albums, but if you read on, I will give a review of the various albums that are available. Situations vary, so some people might prefer certain albums over others. I’ll give as much info as I can, but in the end the decision is up to you.
Montessori Matters from Heutink (Nienhuis)
First, there are Montessori Matters Albums from Heutink, formerly Nienhuis. I can’t link to individual albums because they change their product links frequently, but if you visit their main site and search for “Montessori Matters”, you will find the albums I mention.
The Montessori Matters albums were written by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. They were all written in the 1960’s, although they’ve been updated many times since then. They are similar to the albums I used in my own training, since one of the authors, Sister Mary Motz, was my elementary trainer. They are spiral-bound with soft covers and reasonably priced ($20-30 per album).
A. There is one album entitled simply “Montessori Matters”; it does not list an age range in the description, but it is for ages 3-6. Covering all the curricular areas, it contains many drawings and black and white photographs, and is written in a clear, easy-to-understand style. The one drawback is that it does show its age, in terms of writing style and photos. Still, most of the information in it hasn’t changed in the past 40 years. I would consider it a “classic” album that could be used by anyone at home or school.
B. Heutink/Nienhuis also carries three other Montessori Matters albums: Language, History, and Mathematics. All three were written by my trainer, Sister Mary Motz (one of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur), and are for ages 3-9 (primary and lower elementary). They are similar to the first Montessori Matters album in terms of writing style and content, but contain more in-depth information about each of the curricular areas they cover.
Albums from North American Montessori Center
Second, we have the North American Montessori Center (NAMC) albums.
A. First, they offer Classroom Guides specifically for each age group; each classroom guide talks about children’s physical, social, emotional, and academic stages and gives information on setting up a classroom, arranging the materials, and working with the children for that age group. The Classroom Guides do not contain presentations for the materials.
B. They also have albums for each curricular area and each age group (toddler through 9-12). These albums are fairly expensive ($150 each), although they can be purchased in sets (all the Toddler albums, all the 3-6 albums, etc.) at a discount. They come in sturdy 3-ring binders and the album pages are laminated. They also include color pictures of each material and presentation. If you can afford them, they are excellent; the clear writing and pictures make the lessons very easy to follow.
C. There are also materials on CD-ROM, including blackline masters and support materials like self-testing worksheets and nomenclature materials. They are designed to coordinate with the NAMC albums.
Guides for the Montessori Classroom from New Child Montessori
Gini Newcomb has authored several guides that are helpful in the Montessori Classroom.
A. First, she offers four Guides for the Montessori Classroom, one for each season: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Each guide is spiral bound with a soft cover, and contains lesson plans for each day (with an emphasis on nature, biomes, and continents). The guides include suggestions for activities to go with the lessons (songs, art projects); and book lists, which give recommended titles for each topic covered. The seasonal guides do not contain presentations for the Montessori materials. Each guide is $30, or you can buy the set of four for $100.
B. Second, she offers a Supplement to Guides for the Montessori Classroom: Instructions for the Montessori Work. This book does contain step-by-step presentations for the Montessori materials. This book should be used in conjunction with the seasonal guides, since the presentations are laid out day-by-day to coordinate with the guides, rather than grouped by subject matter the way other albums are. The supplement is $65. Both the seasonal guides & the supplement are for ages 3-6.
C. Third, there is a guide entitled Art for the Montessori Classroom. This guide is for ages 3-9 (I think it could be stretched to age 12 depending on the abilities of the child). It contains instructions for setting up a Montessori art area, and specific directions for teaching many different kinds of art activities and skills.
Teacher Manuals from Montessori Research & Development
Montessori Research and Development offers teacher manuals for Infant/Toddler, 3-6, and Elementary. The elementary albums are not specified for 6-9 or 9-12, but they do let you view each album’s table of contents as a PDF, and it appears that the albums are appropriate for the full span of 6-12. The albums range in price from $8 – $40, depending on the number of pages in the album. You can choose between spiral or smooth binding.
The Montessori R & D manuals are extremely detailed and well-written. They include quite a bit of information on how the presentations aid in brain development. However, they do not include pictures of any of the materials or presentations, although you can often Google to find those.
Teaching Manuals from My Montessori House
My Montessori House, creator of Montessori DVDs that teach phonics, has recently branched out into making Montessori Teaching Albums. They can be used by parents or teachers. They are based on the albums and notes of an AMI teacher and are quite thorough and well-written. They do include pictures of almost every material; the pictures could be bigger, but they are helpful. The price is quite reasonable.
In a perfect world, we could buy all the albums from each of the above companies – each set of albums has something to offer the Montessori classroom. Most of us can’t do that, though, so hopefully this post will help you decide which album(s) work best for you. You may want to buy a one from each, so that you can better decide which ones would work in your situation.