I received this wonderfully detailed response regarding Grammar Box material from Z. and thought others would benefit from it as well. It is printed below with her permission.
Regarding the Grammar Boxes, I decided to go back to the source and pulled out my tattered copy of The Montessori Elementary Material: Volume 2 of the Advanced Montessori Method. Don't let the title fool you - it's not too hard of a read (unless it's a brain fog day!) and helped me see one major mistake I made with my cards. For each pair of sentences only the focal part of speech word card (that is, the word that is different between the 2 sentences) is changed to make the other sentence. I made cards for each word for both sentences. I only needed to make one card for the repeated words. Does that make sense??? Clear as mud? Uh-oh... the book explains it much better :). I'll just chunk the extra words that I printed/cut out for the verb grammar box.
I was encouraged by the below e-mail; as well as affirmed. I chose not to do the Grammar Boxes with the olders but we DID do the command cards. I thought I'd do it *right* with youngest dd but the cards in general aren't really appealing to her. That could have more to do with our lack of consistent shelf work time (or rather, too little of it on a weekly basis) than the material itself, her needs, or her learning interests/sensitive periods. Right now I'm thinking that before I invest time in making the other part of speech grammar boxes I'll see how she responds to the verb grammar box. Now to figure out the organization/display of the cards. I'll be looking at the links I've already collected.
I purchased all the grammar box material (kid Advance) - including the filling boxes ( IFIT) for the cards and the card material itself (from Nienhuis). Having had 2 children now go through the grammar box material, here is a home made alternative I would recommend. I also have the Mont for everyone grammar material and find it is good supplementary work, but not enough in its own right.
Print up the cards on coloured paper from the Mont R&D albums (as they have detailed exactly what is in the Nienhuis material - without the $500 price tag) and laminate them.
You can use the paper mache boxes and paint the inside the various colours that are required for the grammar cards and then align them in the order as per the grammar box. Not sure if you know the way to work with them so sorry if I'm telling you something you already know.
When doing the exercise, the child puts the sentence card at the top of the grammar box - in relation to the mechanism of speech they are learning about. Then the individual component grammar cards rest in their piles in the little boxes underneath - but that is all. When the child is actually composing the sentence presented on the large card, they sort through and find the relevant mini card and then reconstruct the sentence on the mat! So the grammar box is in effect used as a storage container!
I then get the child to write up the sentences in their workbook and use the stencil template to draw the symbol above the word - this I am finding is creating more of an impact in understanding the grammar, than the grammar boxes. You can get the stencil from Nienhuis for $10 - that was a little tip given to me by a montessori teacher.
I find that my children actually 'understand' the component of speech we are working on better when using the command cards - again you can make these from your R and D albums. They are printed on white paper 'cue card size' & in a plastic sleeve, so you could just laminate and then stored in a coloured coded box, in relation to the component being learnt - again, I could have saved myself the money by buying a set of the paper mache boxes, painting them and then storing the cards in them.
Hope this gives you some ideas.
Thank you, Z., for your input!
Strangest fillings: "How did you like the empanadas last night?" "They were good but I'm guessing that they had something weird in them." Then we played the guessing game ;). We had empanadas, turnovers, foldovers, whatever you want to call them, for dinner last night. The shape fit the crescent moon in the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe, which we were celebrating - plus I actually had the dough already made from a previous night (Rev. 12:1-5). The filling? Sauteed cabbage (1/2 a teeny tiny head that I cut before the freeze the other day), about 1/2 lb of precooked ground beef, and about 2-3 tablespoons of pumpkin - yes, pumpkin! - all warmed up together.
A few nights before (when we were out of meat) I had filled the foldovers with scrambled eggs. I thought it was a little more interesting than a plop of scrambled eggs on the plate. In case you're wondering, a plop is equal to 2 dollops, more or less :). These would make a great make-ahead breakfast that could easily be frozen.
Along with the meat empanadas we also had sopapillas (mmm) and cauliflower [made like mashed potato with parsley on the top of the mound with 3 cranberries - to represent Tepeyac and the roses in bloom on the snow covered hill]. BTW, the yogurt dough from NT doesn't work for sopapillas, trust me... but then the recipe for actual sopapillas that I tried later didn't poof up much either (shrug).
After eating we pulled out the book by Tomi dePaola of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I happen to have the Spanish version so oldest dd took a stab at it using the beautiful pictures to retell the story. I had gotten some unbleached muslin for the dc to decorate the 'tilmas' but we ran out of time. Maybe today?