Koko's Mama emailed me with some questions, and I hope she won't mind if I use this forum to answer them, because they may be helpful to others, as well.
First, she said:
I purchased from IFIT and Adena, but I was wondering about Alison's.
To date, I have bought all of our materials from Montessori Outlet, so I don't have any experience with IFIT, Adena, or Alison's. You can read more about our materials here.
Next, she asked:
I was seriously thinking about [buying] the bead cabinet. Is this something you are thinking about too or do you think there are cheaper/better options out there that teach similar concepts?
This is something I've been thinking about a lot. We're at a crossroads right now, and we need to decide whether to stick with Montessori or start with a new curriculum. I love, love, love Montessori teaching methods, particularly the math manipulatives. We have the hundred chain and thousand chain, and we have hundred squares and thousand cubes, but we don't have the bead cabinet yet (units 1 - 9 and 10). If I decide to make another big purchase of Montessori materials, the bead cabinet will be the first thing on my list. One thing I've noticed while shopping around for them: different suppliers use different colors of beads, so if you want all of your beads to be the same color, be sure to buy all of your bead materials from one source.
As for cheaper/better options, I haven't explored any yet, but I've heard a lot about Math U See. Anyone else out there know much about it?
Finally, Koko's Mama asked:
What color printer do you recommend? I look at everything you download and since I don't have a color printer as of yet, I wonder if you are happy with yours.
We have a Canon Pixma 620 that my husband bought for super-cheap on Black Friday, and so far I've been very happy with it. It's a photo printer, but it's also a regular printer. Office Depot and Staples periodically run buy one/get two free (!!) deals on photo paper, and that's the paper I use when I print out picture-heavy materials. Otherwise, I just use regular paper. I try to laminate everything (I have a Scotch-brand thermal laminator that I bought brand new off craigslist for $10. It was a bulk version originally purchased from Costco, so it came with a bunch of laminating sheets.)
Hope that helps! If any of you have any comments/suggestions for Koko's Mama, please feel free to leave them in the comments section (thanks!).