What materials would you recommend splurging on the premium quality?
I would love to hear your thoughts and experience! Thanks in advance, wise mamas!
We bought the Alison's Montessori and Kid Advance stuff. There was just no reason for the ultra-pricy premium stuff--the premium stuff is made to withstand 30+ kids a year for like 10 years. I needed to be able to use them for 2 kids a year for like 5 years. The AM and KA stuff has held up really well and I'm glad I didn't spend the extra. When you go to sell it on ebay, you're likely to get a much lower price since it would just be other parents buying it for the most part, so it would be really hard to recover any of your costs with the more expensive stuff.
We're unschoolers but do have some Montessori works at home--from both ends of the price spectrum. I agree with the PP about quality, but it also depends on how you feel about where/how stuff is made. The Kid Advance item we have is MIC and did have a strong smell for a couple of weeks (varnish?). The European-made items we have weren't made under questionable labor practices and had no such odor.
There's also a Montessori manufacturer in Tennessee, I believe.