If you know me, you know that I only do giveaways with sponsors I know and love, and Montessori Services definitely falls into that category. Their catalog is an excellent source of ready made Practical Life activities, beautiful child-sized items for creating your own classroom (or homeschool) activities, and essentials for preparing the environment such as baskets, trays, and rugs. They also have wonderful enrichment materials for every area of the Montessori curriculum, including language, which we’ve been talking about a lot lately here at Vibrant Wanderings. I love their products, and I really love knowing that I’m supporting a small, woman and mom run business when I buy them.
When I worked in the Montessori Children’s House, I sometimes felt not only like a guide and a caretaker of the children’s environment, but also like the curator of a large collection of small objects. You see, I was constantly on the lookout for mini versions of everyday things, useful tools that were scaled down so that they fit comfortably into a child’s hand. Items like this are the staple of the Practical Life area, but very small objects have a special use in the language area as well, and Montessori Services has done the legwork to put together an extensive collection of language objects that covers every letter sound and many other phonemes as well. I wish I’d had this set when I first began making my language curriculum. It would have saved me a tremendous amount of time and money, too, by giving me all of the objects I needed to create most of my language boxes.
In addition to the 100 objects that make up this collection, Montessori Services offers a free printable that allows you to make your own accompanying labels. If you’re looking to save time, there’s also the option of ordering a ready-made, laminated set for a mere $5.95. I love that most of the objects will be familiar to most children. The fruit and small animals are some of my favorites, and my daughter and I both love the little vacuum cleaner and the tiny red wagon. Of course when you’re looking for words that begin with specific sounds or include certain phonemes, you have to get a bit more obscure, and Montessori Services has done a wonderful job of collecting a variety of objects to fill that need as well.
So what do you use them for?
The I Spy Game1
This is the first place they typically come out in the classroom. I’ve been noticing signs of readiness for this activity in my daughter, so I was eager to receive our set of objects and share them with her. I put just a handful of the objects in a basket, taking care to choose only ones I thought Annabelle would be able to identify immediately. I wasn’t sure about the vacuum, as the model that comes with this object set is rather old fashioned, but Annabelle knew exactly what it was and thought it was pretty cool, too. She absolutely loved playing the game, and since it was for home use, I think it was to my advantage that all of the objects were new. If I had brought together small things from around the house instead, I think she would have been less excited and eager to dive into play. Instead, she has asked to play multiple times every day this week. It was definitely the right timing for her and, with these objects, the perfect set-up!
Early Writing and Reading Activities
Once children have mastered the I Spy game and learned the letter sounds using the Sandpaper Letters, they typically move on to work with the Large Moveable Alphabet. The first language boxes include only objects, and the children use the LMA box to write (build) the name of each object. Things differ slightly by training, but the objects in the first boxes nearly always correspond with three letter phonetic words, and the Montessori Services set includes a great variety of these (ant, cat, box, bag, cup, bug, bat, can, fan, lid, mat, jet, jug, etc). Later on, children build words based on objects shown in pictures, then match objects with words before matching words and pictures.
As children progress through the language curriculum, there are many other activities using small objects, such as the singular and plural boxes, and boxes focusing on specific blends and phonemes, so objects always come in handy.
While these objects were collected with language activities in mind, they have plenty of applications elsewhere. In my last classroom, I created a very popular color matching activity as an extension of Color Box 2 using small objects and squares of craft foam. In the cultural area, many teachers create sorting activities for concepts like land and water, something that many of the small animals in this set would be wonderful for. Other sorting activities for pre language might include sorting animals from food, or kitchen items from things one would use outdoors. The applications for small objects in the classroom are endless, really.
I would recommend this set of objects to any new teacher or homeschooling parent looking to create a Montessori-inspired language curriculum. Even seasoned teachers are likely to find them useful for rounding out an existing curriculum, adding variety (a wonderful point of interest!), or replacing objects that go missing, get broken, or are simply outdated. It is incredibly useful and wonderful to have on hand! In my excitement over the additions to my collection of miniature objects, I had to take some close up photos of a selection of favorites from the Montessori Services set (at left). The images may give a distorted view of the actual size of each item, but all of these would fit comfortably into any language box or basket. You can get a sense of their actual size on Montessori Services’ website, where many of them are conveniently shown alongside a ruler.
Get Your Own
This Language Object Starter Set is available from Montessori Services for $59.95. I actually counted 101 objects in my set, which means it evens out to just over 59 cents per object – a pretty good deal in my book, especially when you factor in the time it takes to hunt for small items that meet a specific criteria. If you only need a small number of objects, you can also buy many individually for anywhere from 20 cents to $1.95. You may also be interested to check out other items in the language category on Montessori Services’ Site, which even includes some language boxes complete with labels. I can vouch for the quality and durability of their labels as well.
For those of you who work with a group of students, there’s also an opportunity to earn credit for use toward these or other products from Montessori Services through their School Credit Promotion, which you can read more about here. When I was last teaching, many of our families ordered holiday gifts for their children from For Small Hands and designated our school as the credit recipient, which allowed me and my fellow teachers to order a number of free items for our classrooms. It was a win-win – the children got Montessori friendly toys for home use, and we earned free materials. Home schools and homeschool associations are eligible, too, so you can always drop a hint to the grandparents and other family members who want to buy gifts for your children at the holidays. They can do their usual shopping and earn you credit for items you’ll use in your school at the same time.
Enter to Win
Using the rafflecopter form below, you can enter to win a $50 gift certificate from Montessori Services. Use it for your own set of language objects, or anything else that sparks your interest!
Disclosure: I received a complimentary set of language objects from Montessori Services for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Links within this post are affiliate links. When you shop through my links, a portion of your money goes to cover the cost of hosting for Vibrant Wanderings and offering ideas and information on Montessori. Your support is appreciated!