The supermarket has lots of materials that you can use to bring a little Montessori into your home. Keep your eyes open, you might be surprised what you can find! These are a few examples of materials we have found in our local supermarket!
- Wooden handled mops and brooms. If you have a saw, hand saw or helpful neighbor you can cut the handle to make it child size. I keep a small handsaw in my office for this and similar purposes. The same can apply to larger wooden kitchen utensils such as wooden spoons, shorten the handle a little and it will make it much easier for the child to learn to control and use (coordinate and manipulate).
- Temporary hooks and velcro picture hangers, we use the Command brand. Perfect and a must have - for hanging aprons, dustpans and all sorts of materials at the child's height. The hooks and the velcro picture hangers can be used all around the home to hang art work at the child's level.
- Suction bathroom accessories such as small mirrors, soap holders, cups to hold hairbrush or toothbrush, corner shower shelf, towel rings. These can make the bathroom so much more accessible to children and in many ways safer, if placed at the child's height they can easily reach all the things they need.
- Towels, tea towels. If you can sew, cheap towels can be used and cut up for child sized cleaning clothes (similar to these), or you can make an absorbent apron (like this). We've previously cut a tea towel in two, to make it child size, attached a cotton loop and hung next to our sink/dishwasher with a temporary hook. The children loved to help wipe the dishes and it's so much easier (less risk of breakages) when they use a small tea towel!
- Kitchen sponges or kitchen cleaning cloths. This one is easy, cut a kitchen sponge or cloth in half or quarters to make it child size. Have the child wipe up spills with you or put in a cleaning caddy. Small sponges are so much easier for the child's small hands to use but also for them to rise and wring out. A sponge could also be used in the art area for cleaning, on a gluing tray (for wiping up glue) or near a blackboard.
- White kitchen platters and trays. While I love the Montessori wooden trays, white kitchen/plastic trays are often best for kitchen or art activities that require a waterproof and easy to wipe-down surface.
- Small plastic cosmetic containers. These can be found in small travel packs and can include lotion bottles or little pump bottles. Put soap in them in the children's bathroom, put shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, washing detergent (in the kitchen), or soap for the pets. Not only are the bottles easier for the child to use, if they use it all (all the soap etc) it's not a great loss. If you can't find any, look for small cosmetics or shampoos or even hair products that come in small containers that could be reused. We used a small hair get pump container for many years for the children's soap as it was just the right size - think outside the box.
- Affordable but breakable plates, cups and dishes. You know in a Montessori home we prefer to give children real, breakable plates, bowls, cups and dishes. Supermarkets often stock these at an affordable price. Some stores stock plain white crockery, with small plates and bowls. Some stores have small Pyrex glass bowls for weaning but also for baking or for sorting activities. We have used the Corelle brand sold in many supermarkets and while breakable they have survived many drops on hard tiles.
- Small plastic snap lock containers. If you have a toddler take them shopping as see if they can use the container independently before you buy. Small snap lock containers are so useful, the child can cut up their own snack on put it in the container to eat later, they are good for storing play dough, even left over cookie dough. They are a really good airtight (or close to airtight) container that the young child can independently open and close.
- Fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and pasta are all fantastic for matching, sorting and sometimes transferring activities.
I always try to take a quick look in the kitchen utensils/baking and gardening sections in new supermarkets as I don't know what I am going to find, sometimes small whisks (at a much-reduced price compared to kitchen specialty stores) or small sifters and tongs, or small gardening tools or child sized gardening gloves.
Also, think how you can reuse or repurpose containers. Many products come in interesting containers, jars or bottles that would be perfect for open and close activities. Nice spice bottles can be used as smelling or scent bottles. Ice cube trays or chocolate moulds (see the cute ones in the picture above) can be used for transferring activities, platters can be used for sorting activities!