When I first started homeschooling 6 years ago, I loved the idea of Montessori (especially for younger elementary grades). Montessori is a homeschool approach that blends the idea of strewing child-directed-learning with hands on learning through play. Basically everything in your home is chosen for a purpose to be of high educational value, so that even through play your kids are learning independently. You can learn more about what this style looks like here or take the homeschool style quiz. Most Montessori classrooms are INSANELY beautiful, with little wooden learning trays strewn about the room (take a look at my Montessori Pinterest board for inspiration), but getting started can be a fortune! While I am a sucker for things that are pretty, I needed a solution that was functional and affordable so I had to change my gears.
DIY Montessori Hack
To make my own system, I have looked into Ikea’s Trofast system but felt like it would take up too much precious wallspace and that the pricetag was too high. I have seen some awesome learning trays available on various education websites but they don’t ship to Canada. I have looked into cafeteria trays (staples.com of all places!) but could not figure out how to store them without making some sort of special shelving. Then I was going on a hunt through the garage and came across a few unused shoe racks. Score! You may have already seen the shoe rack I set up our block center on, however I am now using the other one near our reading corner for all our activity trays. It takes up next to no space, it holds 8 trays nicely and it cost me nothing! I had a few plastic baskets from the dollar store and went and grabbed four more along with some smaller baskets to go inside to separate various activity segments. Check out the video below to see exactly how this $16 activity tray design is set up!
For our pens and pencils and supplies, I needed something that was simple and could be moved around the house so I got creative. I found these planter boxes at wayfair.ca and they are adorable and transportable (win-win). You can find them in Canada for about $33 or a slightly different version in the US for about $40.
Here’s the reality you guys, homeschooling can be as expensive or as cheap as you make it. There are so many creative solutions you can find at garage sales or dollar stores if you think outside the box. It may not be as pretty as what you see online, but it can be just as functional. If you’ve been interested in Montessori but the price is holding you back, research DIY Montessori trays and activities and just dive in!