Notes on the Local Education Requirements

Montessori training centers refer to any local educational requirements as the “public school curriculum”. I personally refer to the term “local educational requirements” to incorporate not only the public school curriculum, but any other requirements made on homeschools or private schools, as well as the requirements of the particular homeschool or private school. For homeschools, this area might include family studies, areas that the family finds important or critical, faith formation and the like.

Within the school setting as well as within the family for homeschool requirements that are not family-based, encourage the child to help create the material needed; or utilize resources on hand to learn the required skill. This does not need to be elaborate; however it could lead into a strong area of personal interest for a particular child. 

You are likely to find that by the end of 3rd and 6th grades, a child has already learned most or all of the public school curriculum either directly through the Montessori materials, or through their own personal studies. This occurrence is precisely why Montessori albums are not adjusted for the public school curriculum –  nor should Montessori teachers get too caught up with local educational requirements -- keys-based Montessori albums provide what is developmentally appropriate for all or most children; the public school curriculum (and albums that provide far above and beyond the keys) is typically imposed from the outside and may or may not be appropriate for ALL children. 

Non-keys-based albums can be useful, if you discern what is a key and what is ok for not every child in a particular environment to do. If every child had to do everything, there would be no more time for personal studies! 

And children that do personal studies - can pull in a wide variety of resources - especially non-Montessori ones! More in another Montessori Nugget! 

Primary Montessori Materials LIVE in the Elementary Classroom

(updated - 11/26/12 - math section!)

There is a sub-set of Montessori materials that is utilized at both primary and elementary. The presentations are different; the teaching concepts are different - and the material proves just how deep it can go!

Teacher in one level or the other and want to know which materials overlap levels?
Homeschool parent transitioning from primary Montessori to elementary Montessori?
Curious for another reason as to the depth of the Montessori materials?

Here goes!

Some items can be very useful if you still have them in elementary - the children may do further exploration (pink tower, brown stair and the like come to mind). But core materials?

Keep the following items:

Exercises of Practical Life: 

  • Primary has care of the environment items on trays on the shelves; elementary has supply shelves, with empty trays to gather what they need. Same items - set up is different
  • Many of the EPL supplies can also be used in the geography area in elementary for demonstrations and such.


  • Geometry Cabinet (geometry in elementary)
  • Constructive Triangles (geometry in elementary)
  • Puzzle maps of the world/continents (could be used in elementary, but don't buy them just for elementary)
  • Binomial Cube (mathematics in elementary; geometry in adolescence)
  • Trinomial Cube (mathematics in elementary; geometry in adolescence)
  • Bells (use initially in elementary, then transition to tone bars; but don't buy them if you are just starting elementary - just use the tone bars)
  • Other stuff is great to have on hand, but if you must be budget/space-conscious, it is ok to let go ;)


  • small movable alphabets (at least 3 colors needed in elementary; letters and punctuation on tiles/cardstock and stored in a divided box - like a tacklebox)
  • wooden grammar symbols (multiples of each symbol in a box)
  • (NOTE: reading analysis material from primary is organized different, but you could use most of the same components and add the charts - see this post: Reading/Sentence/Logical Analysis)

Language Extensions: (AMI organization; other albums this includes biology)

  • Plants and Animals
  • (could keep the nomenclature material, but add more components to it - definition strips, more extensive definitions, blank material for the children to create their own)


  • Golden beads (9 thousands, 45 hundreds, 45 tens, 45 units is all that is needed for elementary)
  • Bead cabinet (all short and long chains, cubes, squares)
  • Fraction circles (metal circles)
  • Large bead frame (short bead frame is primary; if starting your child in elementary, only use the large bead frame)
  • "Decanomial bead bar box" (the set that has 55 of every bead bar, 1-10 - some boxes only have 45, some only have bars 1-9 - these smallers are handy in classrooms; not so useful in homeschools)
  • Division with racks and tubes (short division in primary; short and long division in elementary)
  • (additional math note: if you purchase the elementary negative snake game, you'll have all you need for the primary level snake games)

(note: this list does not include items that if a child "missed" primary, they might find useful as a bridge into elementary - such as the land/water and continent globes - useful but ok to use an on-the-fly adapted presentations with less expensive and spacious materials)

Let me know if I missed something :)

UPDATED THE MATH SECTION! (decanomial bead bar box --- and short/long division)

Core Elementary Montessori Materials

The main, core, essential materials needed for the elementary years vary from album set to album set.

The following list corresponds with the AMI albums. This list is not comprehensive for a classroom of multiple children, but represents the core essential materials if you must build slowly or are in a homeschool or tutoring environment. Not every child needs every  material, but this list covers almost every child. 

·         Pencils, colored pencils, sharpeners, erasers
·         Paper supplies (various sizes and formats)
·         Receipt tape or similar for making timelines
·         Research resources in every subject area (including dictionary, thesaurus, atlases)
·         Work plan and work journal system

·         Language Analysis boxes (not the primary version!)
·         Grammar Boxes and filler boxes
·         Grammar Symbols (could be printed on cardstock)
·         3 small movable alphabets in 3 different colors (printed on small tabs, stored in small box)
·         etymological dictionary (or 3)

Mathematics – pull most of what you need from recombining components of the following; this list will get you most of the way:
·         Decanomial Bead Bar Box (55 of each bar, includes the 10s)
·         Bead Bar cabinet
·         Fractions working box (has 10 wholes of each fraction 1-10)
·         Racks and Tubes division (more lower elementary, some use in upper elementary)
·         Elementary Negative Snake Game
·         Large Bead frame (skip the small bead frame for elementary)
·         Checkerboards (multiplication and decimal multiplication)
·         Decimal Fraction Board and cubes
·         Pegboard (get one that is 30 by 30 and you can modify for all purposes) and pegs
·         Binomial and Trinomial Cubes
·         Stamp Game
·         Cubing material

·         Impressionistic Charts
·         Geometry Sticks
·         Geometry Cabinet (or a version of)
·         Iron Material (or cardstock versions of)
·         Protractors and rulers
·         Constructive Triangles (or a cardstock version of)
·         Blank material to create nomenclature
·         Elementary Geometry Solids
·         Area material (can be cardstock)
·         Volume material (metal containers and wooden blocks)

·         Impressionistic Charts
·         Variety of plants and animals to explore and care for (and associated accoutrements)
·         Microscope (by 2nd year if possible)
·         Dissection kit (could be just for plants)
·         Blank material to create nomenclature

·         Impressionistic Charts
·         Black Strip
·         Hand Timeline
·         History Question Charts
·         Clock with hands that move correspondingly to one another

·         Impressionistic Charts
·         Demonstration supplies (according to the album pages you have) – these will be used for demonstrations and experiments throughout a variety of areas
o    Including glass test tubes and stoppers; heat source; some chemicals
·         Blank material to create nomenclature
·         Economic Geography cards

Art & Music:
·         Research material for composers and artists
·         Research material on musical genres
·         Bells OR tone bars (both is preferable when possible; if can only have one: tone bars in two octaves)
·         Art supplies (brushes, watercolors, clay, etc. according to interest and area of history being studied)

To Be

Children need free time.

Large blocks of free time.

To be bored.

To explore nature.

To find themselves.

To be in silence.

To be in company with others.

To be.

So do adults.

Make that time.

Read Real Books

Within Montessori, we strive to provide children the tools they need, at the best windows of opportunity for them to live fulfilling lives. In this way, we help to develop their natural curiosity in a healthy manner so that they remain life-long learners.

Montessori Services booklets
- not an affiliate link -
just a sample of real books a primary
child could read to himself at age 5
When they are given the tools they need for reading and are not bogged down by sequenced readers on irrelevant topics, but instead provided booklets on real information of interest to them, they are then exposed to a great many subjects and a real desire for reading bursts into a bright flame that is difficult to thereafter extinguish.

In Montessori we want to give the children real work, so let's give them real booklets on real topics:
botany, zoology, events in their own classroom, events in their own lives, booklets about the materials in the classroom, booklets with instructions on how to play a game, booklets on the places they want to study in geography, booklets about math and geometry topics, booklets about the people they know.

In elementary, their reading can truly take flight. We still continue with our oral stories, but the children discover a great deal more in reading stories, researching, writing down interview answers and reading them back to their classmates -- reading and writing are embedded in everything they do.

Let's keep it REAL for them! Meaningful!

Learning to Read - the Montessori Way

Many questions have come in lately asking about this particular article, in comparison to albums purchased online and to Montessori's own writings on learning to read:

HomeSchool.Com - Montessori Language Arts at Home

Overall, this article is a great overview. But it does need two clarifications:

Maria Montessori did NOT develop the pink/blue/green series. She developed a whole language approach that, while sequenced, is laid out entirely differently.

Also, the children when first working with the movable alphabet, do not write on paper. This is a separate development at a separate time, and generally is done when the child is comfortable with spelling.

There are currently three relatively well-known Montessori series for learning to read in the English language:
  • AMI (99% match to what Maria Montessori developed)
  • Muriel-Dwyer (very similar to AMI)
  • Pink/Blue/Green series (complete departure from the first two styles)
Each one has its benefits and drawbacks for any given situation (homeschool, classroom, special needs, need for the adult to "feel" in control, etc). So select what works best for you, but do research all the possibilities so as to make an informed decision.