You can “do Montessori” without purchasing actual Montessori materials.
The philosophy of how you interact with your children is much more important than the materials you provide them. Once you learn about the materials specific to the Montessori method, however, I can almost guarantee that you’ll desire to experiment with them (according to your budget!) I have indulged in the gradual purchase of many materials over the years, and part of my rationale has been that I don’t buy “toys” for the kids – we have grandparents who manage that sufficiently.
Of all our materials, I would have to say that our metal insets purchased from Alison’s Montessori are the most widely used. They are pink and blue metal stencils on wooden stands, shown in the top photo. One set has straight lines, the second has curves. Reams of same-sized paper (5.5 inch square) and colored pencils (with sharpener) are also provided. We have used Ferby pencils for years and continue to prefer them over all of the other kinds of pencils we have tried. (They are not
InfoMontessori provides a fantastic guide to presentation of the insets here – definitely take a look at their video before getting these out. (I also have the general guide for presenting all materials here.) Technically the insets are a language material because they are a primary tool used for helping children develop and refine the skills necessary for writing. Of course, they can also be used to teach these 10 geometric shapes: square, rectangle, trapezoid, pentagon, triangle, circle, ellipse, oval, quatrefoil, and curvilinear triangle.
The insets can be rotated or overlapped in an infinite array of possibilities, and then shaded in or covered with zig-zags. Here’s a somewhat “sloppy” picture produced by a younger child. As the children practice, they become more confident and creative and will make delightful pictures, which they may enjoy binding into small books. The insets are interesting to children, and sturdy, yet challenging initially, so the children end up concentrating on them for long periods of time.
Once the child is using the insets appropriately, they can be left out indefinitely, along with a fine supply of supplemental paper and pencils. I have found children engaged in this work early in the morning, late in the evening, and all throughout the day. Older neighborhood children gravitate to the open shelves of art supplies they know will always be waiting for them, while younger children are watched and diverted away… until the day that they, too, are ready to get to work.