One of my most popular posts is my album review post. In that post (found here: https://mchomeschoolblog.wordpress.com/2019/03/22/elementary-album-review/), I review the elementary albums available from Keys of the Universe, NAMC, Montessori R&D (those that I own), and Cultivating Dharma. So I jumped at the opportunity to review another new album option from Mainly Montessori.
In full disclosure, I was provided an affiliate version for 1 week so I could review it. Since I already own all of the above albums, I was not planning on purchasing but I asked the creator of the timeline for a copy to review it. I was not required to provide a positive review (or ANY review), what you see below is a review based on the same criteria I used for the other albums. I hope this is helpful to you. I will also add this review to my other album review post. Sorry it’s so long…it’s what I do. 🙂
Update (Dec 2020): I have plans to update this review with a review of the Hub after I have access for a week or two. For now, check out the review of the Mainly Montessori Timeline which is the backbone of the Mainly Montessori program.
Mainly Montessori Albums
- Link to purchase (aff link): https://www.mainlymontessori.com/products/109161-The-Montessori-Sequence-Timeline?ref=21241-Elisabeth
- Price: $349 for clickable timeline with “albums” ages 6-12 (can also do $89/month over 4 months)
- Printables Included: No, there are some links to free printables but most topics do not include printables. There is an option to join the Montessori Hub which has some printables (a monthly membership site for $35/month – $9 the first month)
- Organization: This is the only album organized in timeline format (as a google doc). Thus, you know exactly what comes next and the lesson is hyperlinked for you to find it. This format is really a huge benefit to this “album” because I can tell you that flip-flip-flipping through my albums to decide what to present next is very, very time consuming. This design replaces a significant portion of annual planning as well as makes weekly planning easier.
- Scripted: Very little scripted though sometimes key phrases are listed to remind the child of prior work. The Great Lessons are written out in detail though they wouldn’t fit for our family’s beliefs so that’ll vary by family (version is totally secular).
- Scope/Sequence available: Yes! In the form of a Google Excel doc with clickable links
- Support available: Only if you join Montessori Hub
- Physical album available: No, not unless you printed yourself
- Other options: PDF Version (not clickable, doesn’t come with the lessons, just the scope/sequence https://www.mainlymontessori.com/products/113254-Printable-Timeline?ref=20699-Elisabeth
The clickable nature of the timeline format is a really nice layout and is totally unique to this offering. It would save quite a bit of planning time each August and each Sunday for me to have the clickable version. There is currently no way to print the album, each lesson is linked individually (why I call it an “album” above) so you cannot create a bound album which I know some people like to do with Keys. This is not a problem for me as I’ve always accessed lessons via the computer.
One notable thing about this “album” is that the timeline starts at age 5-6+ so it does start with some primary lessons that are not generally included in other albums. As an example, the math sequence starts with linear counting/teens/early Golden bead lessons which may have been covered for many kids in primary if they’re truly starting at age 6. For me, I started my kids in a “transitional” year between primary and elementary because I started homeschooling them in Kindergarten so this would have been helpful.
On the other end, the Upper Elementary math section is not particularly fleshed out but I did hear from the creator and she is working on that to add pictures, materials lists, etc. This version is currently in “beta” mode while she finishes those lessons. In terms of a math sequence, this timeline has many of the lessons more backloaded (more for older children) than other sequences I’ve seen on Montessori compass but I don’t think this is a huge problem, you’d just progress at the child’s pace.
One thing I really like about the timeline is that Pilar (the creator) shows multiple math/strands moving simultaneously. This is always really confusing to people how to plan this and work on multiple math strands but it works out beautifully in practice. We always have multiple math strands going (for example: fractions and divisibility) and multiple language strands (word study, writing, sentence analysis).
In terms of how the lessons are written up/photographed, I find this album quite similar to other offerings. I reviewed several of the lessons side-by-side with Keys and Cultivating Dharma and they’re virtually the same with some slight variations. This makes sense because, of course, all of the albums available are just versions of Montessori training albums (written while the owners are in Montessori training schools) but I wanted to note this because while the timeline makes this version easier to use in some ways, if you are confused by/really struggle with giving Montessori lessons, this version is very similar to the others (and has to be).
In all my albums (some exception in Montessori R&D) I find there are few examples of “follow-up” work. This is something I feel is really lacking. There are lessons given, for example, on word problems with speed/time/rate but no follow-up problems or lessons. Or geography, we give a lesson on People in Different Climate Zones or the Great Lessons but there are no ideas given for follow-up. In a classroom setting, the teacher has developed these follow-ups over years and has multiple avenues to recommend the children explore further. In my experience in a homeschool, the children often need more ideas, guidance, and scaffolding to actually follow through. Giving math lessons isn’t enough, the children also have to have practice for each lesson, etc. and none of the albums really give us ideas/materials to do that. (Not a criticism of any album in particular but just a note that these albums are the same as others in that little follow-up material/ideas are available beyond “the lesson”).
Some of the lessons do require you to purchase other material (notably the grammar/word study lessons) that is available in other albums. For example, the Montessori R&D language albums come with enough word study material to create this entirely on your own without any extra cost; the Keys albums comes with the grammar filler box material. It would be nice if, for the current price, this version came with additional examples/samples. I also wish that the writing section didn’t require supplementation with Brave Writer at an additional cost. I know many homeschoolers use that (or other writing programs) but I was hoping for the album lessons on those sections included in the price, not additional links.
The price of these albums is in alignment with some of the other homeschool albums (notably more affordable than NAMC), however, adding the Montessori Hub does make it more pricey ($35/month is a LOT). From what I’ve seen, it isn’t 100% necessary that you also join the Hub but it is nice to get the support/printables included there if you’re just starting out. The Hub offers weekly planning and “how to” lesson videos so it would be helpful to have if you need examples to present the lessons. I have found free videos on YouTube to be very helpful so there is definitely a benefit to watching videos to help you learn how to present. It’s also worth noting that for this and any album, you should plan to supplement with additional resources whether that’s printables or monthly memberships (I still spend a lot on TPT in any given month/year). https://www.mainlymontessori.com/products/118542-Hub-Essentials?ref=21241-Elisabeth
So what is my “final” verdict? I love the clickable timeline and if I were just starting out, I would find that format incredibly helpful. If I was investing in albums for the first time, I would likely chose this one simply because of the ease of use and the reduction in my required planning time! I prefer how Montessori R&D comes with some material/examples printed in the book (for the basic price of the album) but those albums don’t come with a timeline or any sequencing information to help you plan. If I were only doing “hybrid” Montessori (i.e. only for some subjects), I’d likely stick with the free Cultivating Dharma albums but if you’re planning on a comprehensive Montessori education, the Mainly Montessori timeline/albums is a nice approach. The ongoing price of the “Hub” (about $400 a year; $35/month after the $9 introductory price) would likely be too much for me but I appreciate that the option is available for those that need ongoing support (no other albums provide growing content libraries/videos). I really wish that were included or more heavily discounted for Timeline owners (especially those related to lesson planning)! Overall, I see this as a really nice option for those just starting out or overwhelmed by the planning aspect of Montessori!
What do you think? Have you seen/used this resource? Let me know your opinion.