Charity Shops and Dollar Stores are good places to find Montessori basics like practical life materials. We already have a lot of materials at home so I'm not looking for many new things but I love it when I find something that is unique or individual. I also love it when I see something that I really want and I know that it will only cost a dollar (or a pound). (I still think in dollars even though we use pounds here.)
Above, I've found a few wooden trays like this in charity shops. This one was £2, it has a center bowl surrounded by five leaf shapes bowls. It's suitable for snacks, or sorting activities or for a playdough tray.
Above, we found a large bag of buttons for £1. Buttons are wonderful for loose parts (more of a Reggio type activity) but I knew they would fit perfectly into our red bus money tin. Otto (17 months) loves this as he can independently post all the buttons into the money box tin and then open the tin to retrieve the buttons. Look at that little pincer, this is an excellent fine motor activity! With small parts this activity requires supervision.
While you could call this an open-close tray, as all the containers are tins, it's more like lid matching. I specifically made this tray using all tins. Some of these tins are from the dollar store, I look for tins for tea, chocolate, spices and, candles. Even in the supermarket I look for products in cute tins or jars that I can reuse somehow.
WIthout even matching the lids, Otto finds it satisfying just opening and closing one tin! It is almost like doing a puzzle "yes, that fits!!".
This mirror tray is from the Dollar Store (Poundland) for £1. I've been looking for mirror trays but they are super expensive. This is smaller than I wanted but it works. Look at the pretty reflections.
The mirror has a hook on the back and is designed to hang on the wall. But we are currently using it in our nature table to display items from the seashore. I also want to use it as a loose parts (again more Reggio) exploration tray for Otto. It would also work well with transparent blocks.
Our charity shops always have a lot of baskets, but I've been looking out for larger baskets. This one above works well for a music basket and now we are using it for a nature basket, it holds so much. Otto loves big baskets like this as he can really get his hands in and sometimes he will sit in the basket. I'm now thinking it would also be a nice basket to put our journals and art materials in when we do some nature journalling. This one was £2 and when we are finished with it we can donate it back! I encourage you to look around your home and donate where you can, I know it means a lot to many Montessori families to find suitable materials for their children in charity shops at reasonable prices.