Dude, Where's My Shelfwork?

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The Laminate Debate

There is a great laminate debate between “true” Montessorians and those of us that feel the need to plasticize our manipulatives. While I see the point that things that are laminated take much longer to decompose in landfills, I think that re-making the same manipulatives over and over is a waste of my limited resources.  I can’t afford to keep printing these beautiful, colorful, engaging activities only to have them ruined in a week or two’s time due to my 90 students handling them.  Grease and grime, turns out middle schoolers’ hands are gross, make the task cards and sorts look dingy and then none of the students want to use them.  There is something else to be said about being able to get them clean before putting them away for the next year.

There is also the reality that time is a limited resource.  I teach Language Arts, which means grading lengthy stories and essays. I really am trying to make a conscious effort to spend less time working and more time with my family and actually taking time for myself to do fun projects, this also means having fewer things to create, saves me time. You can see some of my various projects on the desk. lol

My favorite laminator.

My favorite laminator.

To keep my landfill contributions down, I try to print my cards using as much of a sheet as possible so that there is very little waste from trimming.  I store my cards and sorts to be used another year so that I don’t need to recreate them.

The favorite laminator used by teachers at my school is this Scotch Thermal Laminator that I purchased at Target for $16.99 before school started. Currently, they are $19.99, which is still fairly reasonable.  I have one for home and another at school so that I don’t have to haul it around anymore.  You never know when some last minute laminating needs to be done! One of the few things I shop at Walmart for is the laminating pouches. You can get 100 ct boxes for $17.99, and I go through plenty right now so that is a good deal for me.

While I am generally fairly environmentally friendly, I do believe laminating to be a necessary evil for right now. By limiting waste and saving them for future use, I believe that I am being as environment conscious as I can.  I am looking forward to a time when ALL my manipulatives are already made and I can just pull them out to use instead of creating them.

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All Those Wonderful Manipulatives!

Grammar box word cards

Grammar box word cards

We were fortunate enough to get class sets of the official Montessori grammar boxes. The question was…where do we put all the cards so they are easily accessible?

Confession! I laminated the word cards. YEP! Laminated them.  I know that it is frowned upon to do so, but I have 90 students a day that need to use them and would like to get more than one year out of this very expensive resource.


Stack-On 60 drawer storage

Stack-On 60 drawer storage

One of my colleagues saw these great organizers at Fleet Farm, and realized they were just what we needed.  This particular one has 60 drawers, which was more than enough for the parts of speech cards.  I have been toying with the idea of creating some extra sentences, that are more complex, for my students that already have mastered the grammar boxes.  To be fair, there are very few students that have come to me having already done these despite two of our feeder elementary schools being Montessori focused.

While the grammar boxes are the only pre-packaged manipulatives that we have in our classrooms, my colleagues and I continue to create our own shelfwork that coordinates with and supports our Language Arts units.

After spending copious hours copying, laminating and cutting out the different root sorts, I realized that it was going to be interesting to get the box back to school without all the various drawers and contents ending up all over my car.

cling wrap

These boxes are also very helpful for the Greek/Latin root sorts that we have been doing throughout the year.  I like the 39-drawer Stack-on box for them because I can store larger task cards and sorting activities in the big drawers on the bottom.

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Where I began…

So, it is now the end of January of my first school year teaching at a Montessori Middle School.  I was just realizing what I slacker I have been for not maintaining anything on this website.  I wanted to have a quick post about what my teaching space looked like when I first walked in.


So much bare space….too plain to handle

room 1

The only windows in my classroom look onto the pod community space.


Better picture of our bare pod

I will admit, this was one of the most sterile environments I have ever walked into.  I had a sense of dread and worry because I didn’t want to have my students and I feel like we were trapped in a box for 9 months!  How to make this place feel like a space I want to spend most of my waking hours.

I can’t wait to show you updated pictures so you can see the extremely colorful, cozy and welcoming classroom I call my daytime home.





Just a few quick views that I found on my ipad

NOT a real fire!

NOT a real fire! It’s a fan/LED light from Amazon.com

Book bins with NEW picture labels

Book bins with NEW picture labels

No longer a fish bowl

No longer a fish bowl