Montessori Primary Wrapup

Montessori Primary Wrapup

This post is going to be all about the numbers, or more specifically the dollars… what it cost me to do Montessori 3-6 at home. Although my son will be “in kindergarten” next year, he has completed all 3 years of the Montessori primary curriculum and will begin the Elementary work in the fall. 

Before I get into the details of this post I’d like to add some caveats. 

As homeschool preschool curricula goes, Montessori is one of the most expensive/materials intensive ways to do it. Was that absolutely necessary? No. Although it was fun and hugely valuable, it was not essential. I would dare to say *most* homeschoolers do not put so much into the preschool years, but I learned a lot along with my son and I’m going into elementary with a lot of confidence in the value of homeschooling, so there was a huge payoff. 

In terms of Montessori materials, I was and am the type to want it all. I have almost all of the materials you would find in a fully stocked classroom, with a few exceptions. However, I did not purchase most of the materials new and I made out like a bandit on a couple of Craigslist deals. I also made some of the materials myself. So while this isn’t the absolute cheapest way to do Montessori primary, it’s also not the most expensive. 

Finally, I’m an accountant and tend to account for everything so my financial records are very detailed. For that reason my numbers include everything I paid for down to pencils, erasers, scissors and cardstock. However, I did not include several items I or my son received as Christmas gifts, such as a microscope, a binding machine and our grandma-made Thousand Chain Mat. Also, I have not included the cost of any co-op classes that my son participated in. Although there was educational value in those they were mostly for social interaction and were not a part of the Montessori curriculum that I’m writing about here. 

Overall Summary

In the past three years, I have spent just under $3,300 which is an average of $1,100 per year or $122/month for a 9-month school year. I haven’t priced private preschool classes but I’m going to go out on a limb and say I wouldn’t be able to do it for just over $100 a month. That number also includes about $1,250 of materials that will continue to be used in the elementary curriculum so if I removed that from my total, I’m down to $2,000 for primary alone or $76/month. And I still have all of these materials in my closet. If I can get organized enough I’ll be selling everything this summer, hopefully locally so I can avoid the post office. So even if I only get a few hundred dollars for everything the net cost will be significantly less. 

Cultural Materials 

The most expensive category for Montessori Preschool turned out to be the Cultural Materials at a total of $817. I purchased everything in this category new at full price so that would explain this group leading the cost. Most of these materials will continue to be used into elementary though so they were well worth the price to me. The one area I really splurged was the continent boxes – a box for each continent with cultural materials representing the countries in that continent. Those could have been done much simpler but I really had a lot of fun collecting the materials. 

Materials included:

  • Map cabinet
  • World Puzzle Map
  • 6 Continent Puzzle Maps 
  • USA Puzzle Map
  • Sandpaper Globe
  • Continent Globe
  • Land & Water Forms
  • Continent Box Materials
  • Safari Toob Animals

Sensorial Materials

The one category that you would expect to be the most expensive is the heavy, wooden sensorial materials that squeaked into 2nd place at $805. This is where I scored some massive deals on Craigslist because Montessori homeschooling seems to be rather popular in my area and it is the wooden materials that really hold their value for resale. In the first year or so, this was by far DJ’s favorite area so there really isn’t any purchase in this category that I regret with the possible exception of the Botany Cabinet. I’m still holding out hope that we’ll get *some* use out of that in elementary though. 

Materials included:

  • Knobbed Cylinder Blocks
  • Knobless Cylinders
  • Pink Tower
  • Brown Stair
  • Color Boxes 1, 2 & 3
  • Touch Tablets
  • Rough&Smooth Boards
  • Sound Cylinders 
  • Smelling Bottles
  • Bells
  • Stereognostic Bag
  • Binomial Cube
  • Trinomial Cube
  • Geometric Cabinet
  • Geometric Solids
  • Botany Cabinet
  • Constructive Triangles

Math Materials

The third category in terms of expense is the math materials at $582. In this category I made out *big time* by getting all of my Golden Bead Material, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication & Division Boards, Teen Board, Number Rods, Spindle Box, Fraction Skittles and Hundred Board essentially for FREE on Craigslist!  That would have easily cost me more than $300 new. However, I did splurge on really nice framed finger charts for $100 because they were half off but without that deal I could have easily printed the charts onto cardstock and laminated them. So it is nice to have the “real thing” but it does feel a little decadent. You’ll notice I don’t include the metal fraction insets that I just purchased. Although they should be part of the primary curriculum, I didn’t buy them in time so will use them mostly in elementary. 

Materials included:

  • Number Rods
  • Sandpaper Numbers 
  • Spindle Box
  • Hundred Board
  • Fraction Skittles
  • Ten Board
  • Teens Board
  • Golden Bead Material
  • Add/Subtract Strip Board & strips
  • Multiplication Bead Board
  • Division Bead Board
  • Large wooden Number Cards
  • Small Number Cards (3 sets)
  • Add/Subtract/Mult/Div Finger Charts
  • Place Value Dice
  • Bead Material (short/long chains)
  • Clock Lesson Materials
  • Elementary Negative Snake Game
  • Stamp Game
  • Dot Game Board
  • Speed Card Game

Language Materials

At $456 spent, the Language materials come next. The biggest splurge in this category was the miniature phonics objects that I collected. Because I bought a used set of the Lakeshore Learning Alphabet Soup Objects and 2 large hardware drawer cabinets to house them in, I spent nearly $200 on what is essentially a vanity item that was fun to have but not really needed. 

Materials included:

  • Phonics Objects
  • I-Spy Phonics Books
  • Opposites Puzzle Cards
  • Sequencing Story Cards
  • Sandpaper Letters
  • Double Phonogram Sandpaper Letters
  • Metal Insets
  • Wooden Movable Alphabet 
  • Chalkboards 
  • Chalk/pencils/sponges
  • New American Cursive Workbook
  • Phonogram Booklet materials
  • Miss Rhonda Readers
  • Printed Alphabet materials

Science Materials

Our science materials only cost me $114 but we received some significant gifts from family in this area including a microscope and several months of Brainy Kits that each had one of the wooden zoology puzzles in them. This category will be a significant cost in elementary, so I’m okay with it being small here. 

Materials included:

  • Prepared Slides
  • Life cycle Safari Toobs
  • Vertebrate Class Books
  • Science Fair materials
  • Big Bang books

Teacher Guides

Throughout the years of Montessori primary I purchased several teacher guides to assist me in our journey at a total cost of $230. You’ll notice in the list below that I don’t include any books by Maria Montessori herself and that is because I’ve read many of her books from the library or free/low-cost on kindle. 

Books included:

  • Montessori Read & Write (Lawrence)
  • Basic Montessori (Gettman)
  • Keys of the World (Welsh)
  • Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading (Wise)
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding (Nebel)

General Supplies

The final category (although not the cheapest) totaled $301 and included all of the miscellaneous supplies needed to get our work done. The price seems rather high to me but at least $100 of it is a “miscellaneous” line for purchases at Michael’s that I didn’t bother to note what I bought. Oh how dangerous it can be to wander the aisles of Michael’s!  

Materials included:

  • Cardstock
  • Paper
  • Laminator pouches
  • Wall calendar
  • Prismacolor pencils
  • Push pins
  • Piano books
  • Miscellaneous-unknown!

So that’s a wrap. Everything I’ve bought and everything I’ve used the past 3 years. Of course over the last couple of months I’ve begun purchasing for elementary which will cost quite a bit more but will cover 6 years and will be more serious learning. Considering the price of private school or the per-student dollar amount allocated to public schools, I suspect it will again be less expensive but still not the cheapest that it could be done. 

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