Montessori Materials for One Dollar: Bead Stringing and Setting the Table Work

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Today I was at the Dollar Tree (our local dollar store) and found some great Montessori activities for just $1.
The first activity was stringing beads on pipe cleaners.
Both the beads and the pipe cleaners were bought at the dollar store (for a total of $2).

Great for preschool ages +.

An easy modification for younger toddlers is to use larger wooden or plastic beads.

Stringing beads helps with fine motor coordination, control, and patience. 
When the action of stringing the beads has been mastered, the child may work on patterning and colors while completing this activity.

Setting the Table: $1
I purchased the placemats for $1, and used a sharpie marker I already had at home to trace the outlines on the placemats.  Easily customizable, I traced our actual dinnerware and silverware so the children can match the outlines exactly when they are working.  I did add a circle in the upper right hand corner for a cup after I took this photo.  You may also choose to add an outline for a napkin.  Many people embellish their placemats with hand or machine embroidery, different fabrics, etc., but I like the simplicity of this as well. There is nothing to complicate the thought process along the way.  You could easily trace over your outlines with puffy fabric paint to create a tactile raised edge for extra guidance.  If the placemats become dirty, simply throw them in the machine for a wash.  The sharpie did not bleed through to the other side of these placemats, so I could also trace on the other side to have them last longer between washes (just flip it over!).
You can use these right away for the actual meal table, or introduce them first as tray work.  Just put the placemat on the tray, and include everything they need to set up the dinner and silverware as outlined on your placemat, and this can be used as shelf work (as shown in the photo below from Montessori Services).

Looking for an even cheaper version?
Try downloading a place setting, laminating, and voila!  A wipeable, simple table-setting placemat.  You can choose to have the children color them in before you laminate to make it personalized.  Here are some downloadable options:

This version from Parent's Magazine includes word labels.
I like it because it is simple and clean looking.

Martha Stewart provides this colorful placesetting in a printable pdf.
Arrange them on your own paper or cardstock, glue, and laminate for a pretty placemat.
Flipflops & Applesauce provides this table setting placemat download complete with a charming story to help your child remember where each item belongs.  Visit her blog post here to read the story!

And here is one final placemat download from Mama Hall.
Hope you had a wonderful Halloween!!!


the sleepy time gal said...

wonderful wonderful ideas. i want to try some of them with my 3 year old.

and i'm definitely adding you to my blog roll today. many returns.

SimplyMontessori said...

Thank you! I love your blog, it is one of my fabvorites!!!♥

Deb Chitwood said...

Great post, Sharon! You used the same idea I did for my master's degree school placement to draw the place setting with a Sharpie ... works well! And I love that there are so many printable placemats now! Thanks for all the links! I featured your post and placemat photo at


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