How to Montessori-fy Materials You Already Have

Listen, if you have the means for it, you can absolutely invest in all of the Montessori subscription boxes you want. But a lot of us need to stick to a budget, and those things can get very expensive, very quickly. So are they really necessary? Or is there some other way to engage in Montessori-inspired learning at home without all of the fancy materials?

There absolutely is! Montessori is not just for the rich [or for the IG influencers who receive these products for free but post about them as if they would spend their hard-earned money on multi-hundred dollar toy kits every couple of months…]. In fact, when you’re first getting started with Montessori, I would actually recommend that you DON’T buy anything for a while. Instead, try these things to Montessori-fy materials you already have:

Shop Your Home

Instead of heading directly to the hottest online Montessori retailer, shop your home for materials. Walk around and see what you already have to use before you spend all that money.

For work trays, look at what food trays, empty boxes, lids to storage containers, or small baskets can be used.

For language objects, collect some small toys that have a common theme. Take pictures to create an object to picture matching work. Collect other toys or items from around the house for beginning sound work, word building, etc.

For transfer works, collect some common household objects to practice spooning or pouring from one container to another. Some good ones that you probably already have include cotton balls, dry beans, marbles, beads, etc.

Incorporate Nature Objects

Go on a nature walk and collect little objects — acorns, pine cones, sticks in different lengths, rocks in different sizes, leaves, seeds, etc. Then consider how you can use those nature objects in place of the authentic Montessori material:

  • tree bark vs. a leaf for rough vs. smooth
  • different sized pine cones for placing in size order
  • acorns as math counters
  • nature objects as prompts for beginning sounds or word building with the movable alphabet
  • studying the life cycle of something that grows in your own backyard


You can make so many DIY versions of authentic Montessori materials with art supplies you probably already have in your craft cabinet:

  • make color tablets using pieces of construction paper
  • make bead bars using pipe cleaners and pony beads
  • make texture/pattern matching using scrap pieces of fabric
  • make lacing cards using an empty cereal box, a hole puncher, and shoelace
  • more DIYs of Montessori materials

Remember that philosophy > things

Adopting a Montessori philosophy in the way you speak to your child, prepare materials, and present lessons is worth far more than all of the authentic Montessori materials in the world. Gain a clear understanding of the plane of development your child is in, and then even the most “non-Montessori” toys can be adapted or presented in a way that makes them authentically Montessori. How to do that?


For an investment that’s still less than many Montessori material subscription boxes: