Friday, 30 September 2011

Toddler Montessori materials cost comparison

For a while now I have wanted to buy a few infant and toddler Montessori materials to try out at home but I have found it really difficult to decide where to get them from.
Anyone that has done a little bit of research into the various material suppliers will have noticed that there are huge variations in quality and cost.  If you are buying materials for a school then I'm sure that it is much more preferable to invest in the premium quality materials but what if you want them for home?

I decided to do a little experiment and see what you actually get for your money if you buy based solely on cost.  But first a quick example of the variation in cost....


I chose a small selection of toddler materials that I wanted to use for the comparison.  These are the 6 items that I used: 

Object Permanence Box with Tray
Coloured Discs on 3 Coloured Dowels

Imbucare Box with Large Cylinder

Toddler Imbucare Peg Box

Sandpaper Globe of Land and Water

Pink tower (without stand) 
Cost comparison

The list below shows how much these 6 items would cost if you bought them from some of the popular (and not so popular) retailers.  Shipping and any import taxes are not included and there is a mixture of premium and discount quality.

For more detail feel free to download my spreadsheet [available shortly].

Of course the final price varies with shipping and import taxes but you can see quite a large gap between the most and least expensive options.

It is also worth noting that shipping costs from China are usually around 50% of the order cost.

The verdict

I decided to go with a purchase from a Chinese manufacturer and the decision is based on several reasons:
  • Despite the huge shipping fee the total cost of the order is still substantially cheaper than I could otherwise buy.
  • The manufacturer 'claims' to supply a large Montessori retailer in the UK.
  • They offer a good selection of materials for the older age ranges so if this is successful I might buy more.
  • There is no minimum order quantity which is usually the case when you buy direct from China.
I appreciate that many people (including me) have reservations about buying from China because of fear of poor quality, high delivery costs, toxic substances or just the risk of being ripped off so consider this a test on your behalf [biting nails nervously].

I have decided not to publish the name of the company until I accept delivery of the goods; I would hate to give publicity to a dodgy outfit.  But if all goes well I will happily share.   I will also buy a lead paint testing kit which are available to buy cheaply from EBay (just to put my mind at ease).

The order was placed several weeks ago now and as we speak it is on the actual boat shown below which is currently negotiating the southern tip of India (which I find fascinating to think of). 

So if all goes well and the Somali pirates aren't planning on starting up a Montessori preschool the stuff should wind it's way up through the Suez Canal and into Europe over the next 3 weeks.  If I do this again when Freddy is older we will definitely have some interesting geography work!

What do you think?  Have you done this kind of experiment?


  1. I know people, who prepaid and then waited for 4 months and then got it from China! They say it was worth it, because they did order a lot, really a lot.

  2. Hello,
    My son is only 3 months but i am already thinking about buying M.materials for him, your idea is really cool. i can hardly wait to see "the result", i hope it will turn alright. I had really pleasant experience with clothes made in china, i guess it s also a matter of luck, plus the price of the labour force doesnt compare to europe so ...let's wait and see.
    keep us updated.
    best wishes

  3. Hi Līga,
    That's what I am hoping too :)
    Did they say they were happy with the quality too?

  4. at least i haven't heard anything bad about the quality :D

  5. Phew!
    thanks for sharing!
    I'll let you know how it goes.....

  6. Hi Emilia,
    I'll definitely keep you posted on how things work out and I hope that the results good or bad with be of use to you and your little boy. well done for planning so well in advance: I wish I had done!

  7. Hi there. On the container geography thought thread - check out the BBC Box. Details the life of a container, cargo, destinations etc. Very interesting and great for learning about Geography.
    With love

  8. Soooo.... what is the name of the company ? website ? quality ?

    1. Hi BubblySoup
      Check out the update to this post here:


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