We are finding a peaceful and familiar rhythm centering our days and education in Montessori and Waldorf principles. It is, in a small way, like coming home. We truly do feel at home with the philosophies and methods that we are learning and the miraculous new way it has allowed us to see our children…really see them. I have always felt a strong connection to my children’s selves, as my life centers on their development and nurture…but I feel as if I am learning in leaps and bounds and that I am constantly finding myself again as a mother, as their educator, and as an individual. Aligning ourselves with Montessori and Waldorf principles full time, and at home, is just right for us right now in this phase of our lives, and sure has kept the studio buzzing.
In the spirit of dear Maria, we have been preparing the environment…gathering and making supplies…and loving every minute of it! I have found that many of the materials can be simply made with basic tools. I’ll try to share any tips I learn along the way.
Montessori Number Rods, in a set of ten, vary in length incrementally from 10 cm to 100 cm. Each rod is colored in an alternating red and blue pattern. The first rod is red. The second, which is 20 centimeters divided into two 10 centimeter sections, is red and blue. The rods go on until the last rod is divided into 10 sections that are red-blue-red-blue-red-blue-red-blue-red-blue.
Check out the molding department of your lumber yard or use 1”x 1” boards, or something close. There is nothing technical about the width of these rods, just the length. These can be cut with a small handsaw or miter saw. That’s it…that’s the only tool you’ll need! Measure and cut in 10cm increments – 10, 20, 30,…100. Use painters tape to separate your segments and paint, then apply several coats of varnish.
I am not a Montessori purist…and I like natural wood, so I decided to alternate the colors red and bare wood instead of red and blue. I’m pretty sure that my children will still learn to do math without red and blue number rods…but I’ll let you know!!! The main point is that the two colors vary in color enough to be differentiated between.
If you are going to paint the two segments rather than leaving one bare wood then paint the entire rod one color then tape off the sections to paint the contrasting color.
Just a couple coats of non-toxic varnish and we are all set! I am quite pleased! And so is my little one. She set to work first thing this morning when they were finished drying. Completely self initiated she organized, sorted, made ladders, and worked through 10-1, 10-2, 10-3, etc until she had subtracted all from one side and added all to the other. It was wonderful to see.
I lean towards the Waldorf philosophy heavily in my children’s lives and in our home rhythm, yet greatly connect with the Montessori teaching philosophy, methods, and materials and want them to be available to be used freely by my daughter and by her own initiative. Perhaps Waldorf and Montessori purists would have me choose one over the other but I believe the two philosophies can coexist, adjusting to fit individual family situations. It really is all about custom fitting education, the true education of a whole child, mind, body, and spirit, to your own specific and unique children and life. So maybe instead of Waldorf or Montessori homeschooling we have Waldessori, or Montedorf?!?!