Thrift Store Shopping List for Your Montessori Homeschool

Thrift stores are a Montessori parent's best friend.  

I love going into them with my children. Almost everything is reasonably priced, so your children can enjoy picking out a few pieces of their own, and most importantly, no one is hoving over the breakable section fretting over your little ones touching things. Going to the thrift store is an educational experience in itself, so go ahead and take your child with you!

If you're just getting started making your home a Montessori-inspired environment, consider a trip to the thrift store!  At almost any thrift store, you'll find a ton of stuff to make Montessori works with.  

Large trays

Look for thick, sturdy ones in solid colors.  Check to see how it feels when you pick it up.  Both trays with tall and short sides are nice.  A tray with taller sides (like the large red one in the photo) will be perfect for a scrubbing work where water may be spilled, a sand tray, or painting.

Small trays

Look for solid colors and a smooth surface.  These will get a lot of use a lot of use in the practical life area.  For example, a small tray could be just right for holding a sponge in a tiny bowl and a drying cloth.

Sorting trays

Any tray with different compartments will work for sorting colors, shapes, textures, etc.  Look for ice cube trays and serving platters.


An assortment of pitchers is nice to have on hand!  Look for the ones that fit a child's hand.  

Large plastic water pitchers can be fun for large pouring (think baby/toddler age for dumping and filling) while the small ceramic pitchers are really appealing to the 2 1/2 + age group.  

Glass ones break easily, and you are going for variety, so get several.


Oh, how I do love baskets!  A pretty basket can make any work (even legos) classy.  Look for baskets with handles on the sides or a very short handle on the top.  

Many times I've made the mistake of buying beautiful baskets that don't fit on my shelves because of the handle.  However, if you see a basket that you love with a tall handle, go ahead and get it - you can snip off the handle with a wire cutter later.


Any size, any shape or material.  I would go for smaller than a cereal bowl, as this size is particularly useful for transferring works.

Jars & Bud Vases

Any kind of jar or little vase.  The jars will be useful for all kinds of little works and experiments, and the bud vases are for flower arranging.

Homeschool Thrift Finds PIN 1.jpg

Cooking and Eating Utensils

Hmmm...what I'm talking about in this department are tiny forks, scoops, interesting spoons, olive pitters, whisks, egg beaters, egg slicers, tiny spreading knives, and TONGS.  That sort of thing.

small Dishes  

Montessori classrooms have a tradition of using glass tableware for kids.  This is because eating off of them is just nicer.  And by teaching children proper care, they will learn to be careful with them. You’re looking for cereal bowls, salad plates, and 8oz juice glasses.

I do not recommend breakable dishware for the 2 & 1/2 and under age group unless under the child is under supervision. Make sure you are always watching, because there will likely be broken dishes here and there while your child learns.

What you are looking for is a glass dish that feels fairly thick, so if it does fall on the floor, it at least stands a chance. Just plan on having a whisk broom and vacuum handy, and don't sweat the small stuff.

Coin Purses and Pretty Bags

Not only are these fun to open and close, they make cute alternatives for baskets!

Happy Montessori Shopping!