by Corinne Stastny
The biannual showcase of our Primary students’ Material Making is one of our favorite times of year here at Montessori Northwest. Last week, our lecture area boasted a glorious display of their Practical Life and Sensorial Material Making for children between the ages of 3-6. It was a joy to peruse their creations. In April, we’ll get to see their Language Materials as well (click here for a glimpse at the display from last year’s course).
Creating Montessori classroom materials both deepens and reflects the students’ understanding of the 3-6 curriculum and the characteristics of ideal materials for this age. While always reflecting each student’s unique aesthetics and interests, all materials have the same qualities at heart:
- correspond to purposes of the subject area
- age appropriate
- child sized components
- durable construction
- primarily natural materials
- aesthetically pleasing
While the Material Making is displayed, students and staff browse around and get some great ideas as to how to find and create materials for the classroom. Below are a few vignettes of components and ideas that caught my eye this year. I’ve also attached the most recent version of a long standing and ever-evolving document we have here at MNW – Shopping Destinations for Material Making. Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment below with any tips you have to share as we all strive to keep our environments beautiful and interesting!
Traditionally, color coding is used to indicate that all materials in an activity belong together. Sometimes using a thematic design element can serve the same purpose. We love these whales from a handwashing activity, and the brown/black/white spiral elements on this sewing activity (This tray is one of several great ones the students found at City Liquidators)
Here’s a couple inspiring approaches to the Smelling Jars. Toss rice in essential oils, place in a colored cloth bag, to make a simple, beautiful, and effective scent! The jars on the left look like expensive, vintage perfume bottles, but are in fact just clear bottles with opaque paint on the interior, then baked. In addition, this student chose to have some coffee beans nearby if the child wanted to neutralize between scents.
We always love inspiration for adding a beautiful embellishment to a material to enhance color coding or simply make it more visually appealing. This red sewing activity has put many techniques to use! Stained wood (thank you Joann Crafts’), embellishments of ribbon, zigzag paper tape (washi tape), and bright fabric lining on the tray to help keep everything from sliding around.
Corinne Stastny is the Primary Course Assistant at MNW. She feels extremely lucky to call Montessori her profession and loves sharing Montessori with her 5 year-old daughter.