Montessori Thoughts

Shiller Math

*I have another post about using Montessori math at home here

I often say it:  if they are awake, children are learning.  Maybe they are learning new facts, or new bad habits, or new computer games, or new eating experiences as they eat the peas straight from the garden.  Just because it is summer, my job of providing a nourishing environment for my children to grow doesn’t end.  We take breaks and travel more, play at splash parks, go to soccer camp, have tonsillectomies, and spend time at the baseball fields – always learning.  Yet still the children hunger for just a little bit more.

Each summer is different.  This year, after morning chores are more-or-less completed, I am spending time with my older 3 sons individually, focusing on math and violin.  (It’s true, I am sometimes still in my pajamas and drinking coffee while we do this, but even if it’s early, it’s one of our favorite things to do.)  We have a large collection of Montessori math materials (on the shelves in the photo above,) but because of my laziness busy-ness, I have never introduced them as consistently as I always intended to.  I felt the need this year to incorporate a more comprehensive approach, at least temporarily, and found what I was looking for with Shiller Math.

To begin with, I loved Larry Shiller‘s description of the program and the fact that I could use “Kit One” with all of my children from Kindergarten (or earlier) through 3rd grade, moving at each child’s own pace.  If you want to use a book with more than one child in your home, they give you permission to print off extra copies from .pdf files.  I found a very cheap place to print and hole-punch the files on-line, and put them into 3-ring binders.  These are on a book-shelf accessible to the children:

I can use all of my own Montessori materials with this program, either as a substitute for some of the lower-quality ones they send with the kits, or as supplementation.  We may get through one page a day or twenty, it is up to each child to decide.  My oldest son, who is 8, is speeding through Level 3 and will be ready to begin “Kit Two” in a couple months.   The kit prices fluctuate from month-to-month and often go on sale.  The original books and answer books are on a shelf way up high for my own reference if needed:


So, we work through each level, one page at a time, using manipulatives of all kinds.  Frequently-used materials are stored in a basket, and thousand-cubes are tucked into a corner!  And a computer is near-by for 2 functions – to play the music CD’s that come with this math program, and for tuning our violins.  It’s just “enough” of a routine for the lazy days of this childhood summer.








2 thoughts on “Shiller Math

  1. Love your photos of your materials. My daughter attended a Montessori school through Kinergarten level and loved it. I am reviewing Montessori principles in order to supplement my ten year old’s public education and am considering schooling at home for sixth grade. Do you have other photos of your materials or a list of those you have found most useful?

    • Middle-schoolers are typically in a different “plane” of development and beyond the need for the early-elementary manipulatives. Consider checking out Keys of the Universe elementary albums and information. The materials are different at the older levels, but the philosophy is the same. Kudos to you for considering home schooling.

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