Sunday, August 9, 2009

Celebrating with the Kaybee Bells



This week we completed our first fiscal year. I'm so pleased with my math skillz. Very proud to announce that we didn't end up in the red. Even more pleased with myself because of the huge gamble I took when deciding to only take 10 children on for the first year. Cheers to that!

To celebrate, and with a little of our leftover budget mullah, I decided to splurge and bought the much advertised Kaybee Montessori Bells set. I was skeptical, I confess. (Fingers have fallen off from having been crossed for 2 and a half weeks.) Compared to other bells sets that I've used in the past Gonzagarredi ($750), Nienhuis (I don't know, 1 million dollars?, first born son?) at $450 they seemed a little too "underpriced" (crazy, I know). I'm a sucker for bargains though, I admit it.

The bells arrived neatly packed in a sea of foam peanuts. The complete set of brown, white, and black bells. The bases and stems are made out of wood and painted with a flat finish. The bells themselves are heavy, very shiny, and the bell crowns (?) are rubber. There were 2 mallets in the box, thin wood dowels with rubber balls at the ends (all wood would does produce a nicer sound). The sound of the bells is very clear. They have a precise and lovely sound and they match perfectly with their counterparts (as clearly as my own hearing goes.) And that's the most important thing, considering their purpose.

If you want to be picky though... Montessori people can be like this about materials... especially expensive ones... A couple of the wooden bases have irregularities. Minor things with the paint, or seem slightly warped upwards. No damper comes in the set. And here's the only thing that really irked me. The bells have a tiny number engraved at the top. A quarter inch size number that matches each brown bell with its white or black pair. I guess they thought this would be a good control of error. The problem is, the numbers are obvious. The control of error is too blatant. Other bells I have used had the name of the pitch written or on a sticker on the bottom of the bell. If children wanted to check their work, they could tip up the bell and see if the name of the pitches matched. I don't know if I can cover the number somehow without interrupting the tones.

I am excited about having bells in the classroom though. Numbers or not because music is best. And I'll be so happy hearing those babies ringing in our room all year long!

4 comments:

Laura said...

Congratulations!! I am so looking forward to hearing more about your school. It sounds wonderful.

Would love to hear your thoughts about first days of school, orientation, working towards normalization, especially with students new to Montessori environment.

Susanne said...

Hello Laura!

This week I'm having our new assistant come in for four hours every day and we're kind of doing a crash course in Montessori at our school. It's a lot of material to cover but since she is new to Montessori, and very enthusiastic about it, she is absorbing all of it.

I've been visiting the new children in their homes as well. Last year was the first time I ever did home visits before the year began and they were unquestionably valuable. To get a sense of the child in his home before they join us at school was very beneficial for parent communications and for building trust between the school and home.

I also send out letters to all the students a couple of days prior to the beginning of the school year welcoming them back. They often come into the school on the first day with their little letters clutched in their hands.

What do you do for orientation before school begins?

Warm regards,

Susanne

P.S. Montessori said...

Susanne,

Did Kaybee give you any instruction on how to clean the metal part of the bell? Mine are FILTHY, but I'm super paranoid about cleaning them for fear that I may have to owe my first born to Nienhuis if it messes up the tones. Any suggestions? Thanks,

PS

Susanne said...

Hi PS!

Don't know if I'd be bold enough to try ye old vinegar on the bells... Cream of tartar? I don't really know what that is but I know it's used on aluminum. What do you think these guys are made of?