Rochester, NY hosts the headquarters for the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). Numerous schools are in the area and are looking to be able to purchase supplies. The following places are great places to find Montessori materials.
Kaybee Montessori is a Rochester-based company that specializes in selling Gonzagarredi hand-crafted materials. Many of their materials are of decent quality, and are offered at a cheaper price than bigger Montessori companies, such as Nienhuis, Bruins, etc.
Experience has shown that some of their wooden sensorial materials may be softer than others, and more prone to denting or chipping. However, they have always been very good about repairing and replacing damaged materials, and strive to improve their quality.
Be forewarned that some of their materials are colored differently than traditional Montessori materials. Commons examples would be maps and globes, as well as the constructive triangle boxes. For some teachers, this isn’t as much of an issue.
A highlight of the Kaybee collection is their glass bead material in the math area. Their chains and bead bars are stunning and vibrant, and seem to handle heavy use.
The warehouse is full of materials, ready to be shipped or picked up at your convenience. They also have demonstration classrooms, displaying their materials and furniture as they are meant to be used.
Abundance is an organic co-op located in downtown Rochester. They are a great resource for organic foods for the food preparation curriculum. They carry books and CDs for both children and adults, that speak to a natural and peaceful way of life. Some of their kitchen utensils are small and easily manipulated by little hands.
Big Lots carries inexpensive cleaning supplies, including sponges, towels, and more. A variety of rugs can be used to designate different areas of the classroom. They carry child-sized furniture, including table and chair sets for work time, and comfortable upholstered chairs for the reading corner. You can get cute little kids park benches for the reading area, or a mini bistro set to serve as a peace table. Sometimes in the toy area you can find manipulative activities.
The Dollar Stores are a great place to find inexpensive glass and ceramic bowls and pitchers for the practical life area. Some of them even carry wooden bowls and utensils for another natural look. Use beads, stones, shells, and pompoms from the arts and crafts section in your practical life area. They have small boxes that are great for holding objects. Jigsaw puzzles are fun in the language area. Look through the cheap toys hanging on the walls, as some of them can be adapted for the practical life area, or serve as objects in the language area. In the spring find bug catchers. Use magnifying glasses to closely examine nature.
One World Goods
One World Goods is located in Pittsford Plaza. Find items for your peace corner, including stones that say “Peace,” “Love,” “Faith,” and more. Try out their musical instruments from around the world and use them with their CD collection from around the world. Use the scarves to accent tables and shelves in the classroom. The Circle of Friends can be used to send positive thoughts and messages to those who are unable to be in class on a particular day. Check out their other sculptures and tokens from around the world to add to continent boxes. All items are free trade certified and support artisans in other countries.
Rochester Public Market
Scour the Rochester Public Market for great Montessori finds. There are those guys who stand up on ladders, overseeing dozens of boxes filled with cheap goods. Visit their stalls and find kitchen utensils and tools for practical life.
In the inner section, under the pavilion, there is a husband and wife team who sell kitchen utensils. They have a lovely collection of small spoons, spreaders, tongs, basters, etc., that perfectly fit small hands. Many of these materials can be found in popular Montessori catalogs, such as Montessori Services, but these are a fraction of the price. Speak with them about possibly working out a deal for school purchases.
Purchase fresh produce from vendors as part of your food preparation curriculum.
Visit the Target stores on a weekly basis to see what goodies are in the dollar bins right when you walk in. They frequently have flashcards that make for great matching and nomenclature activities about animals and places around the world. Also find puzzles, cleaning supplies, and mini organizational tools.
The Wegmans chain of supermarkets can be a great resource for Montessori items. They carry a line of small creamers that work well for pouring. Pay attention to their seasonal area, as several times through the year, they feature small spoons, tongs, and other child-sized utensils. Also find organizational items to add to the classroom environment.
Montessori educators in the Rochester area are fortunate to have so many resources at their disposal. Walk into stores with an open mind, and let your creativity take over as you design your classroom environment and activities.