Review: The Accidental Montessori Playing Card Holder

This was a wonderfully random find. Last Friday our family strolled the warehouse aisles of Michael Olaf, a local-to-us and terribly cryptic Montessori catalog business. The company doesn’t do online sales and you’d probably never find this item browsing through its hefty and nearly hidden PDF catalog. Many local parents don’t even know Olaf exists, or that you can visit on the second Friday of each month. I bring a handkerchief because there’s always lots of drooling.

A photo showing two wooden card holders facing each other. One holds 13 colorful Crazy Faces cards. The opposing holder has 5 cards spaced apart.

At the bottom of the last aisle at the warehouse we found a “curved wooden card display.” It’s an 18-inch-long (20″ if measured on the curve) semi-circular piece of wood, a half-inch thick, 1.25″ tall, with a half-inch deep groove running through the middle.

It’s supposed to be a tabletop display for postcards and photographs used in classrooms for art appreciation.

Coincidentally, it’s perfect for holding playing cards. No longer does my daughter have to grasp a wad of cards with both hands and flip through them one-by-one while playing Crazy Faces.

And, no longer is my daughter tipping her card faces into my direct view (hey, I only use that inside knowledge during Go Fish when my wife is also playing… so I know which cards to ask my wife for).

The stand holds normal cards, over-sized cards and miniature cards (see image below).

It comes in two sizes, with the smaller one being 9-inches-long. I avoided the small version because it wouldn’t hold many cards and the shortened arc means it would be a little more tip-prone.

Incidentally, we also own a Gamewright Little Hands Card Holder and found it to be next to useless. It holds only a few cards and when pulling a card it’s easy for nearby cards to fall out.

If you like catalogs, grab this wooden holder from page 92 of the Child of the World catalog (“Environment” section) then print the order page or PDF version. Incidentally, Michael Olaf produces two catalogs, The Joyful Child (birth to 3-years-old) and Child of the World (ages 3 to 12). There’s a charge for having a printed catalog shipped, so view online.

Good news! I found the same card holder purchasable online at for $13.50, the same price we paid at Michael Olaf. Sure, it’s somewhat pricey, but you’ll get years of service from it. We bought two.

Five photos of various types of playing cards inserted into the wooden card holder. They are described in the text that follows this image.

Positioned end-to-end, 8 regular cards fit on the holder, although as many as 15 can be crammed in without too much trouble. Likewise, 8 to 13 over-sized eeBoo Crazy Faces cards fit. And mini cards (4×6 cm or about 1.5 x 2.5 inches) fit 8 sideways or 13 end-to-end before cramming.


6 Responses to “Review: The Accidental Montessori Playing Card Holder”

  1. anjii says:

    Oh, we NEED this!!! Wyatt has troubles remembering to keep his cards hidden, and can only hold a few at a time. He usually wants to put them all out on the table, face up.

    October 13th, 2008 at 10:16 am

  2. Colette says:

    Ohhhh…. I am soooo envious!!! I LOVE Michael Olaf! You really hit the nail on the head with the whole “cryptic” catalog thing! It’s all so unusual — I can’t imagine having access to their product and not having to pay shipping, etc. They’ve got such GREAT product! Lucky you, AJ!

    October 13th, 2008 at 3:27 pm

  3. BusyMom says:

    I like this idea, my son always has trouble holding his cards, we thought about one of those card holders you mentioned, glad to know it doesn’t work before we invest. I might have to consider one of these.

    October 13th, 2008 at 7:16 pm

  4. Janelle says:

    The card holder is pretty spiffy. But really, thanks for mentioning the Crazy Faces game again. I’m new to your blog, missed that review completely and think the game would make a great stocking stuffer for Christmas.

    October 14th, 2008 at 5:41 am

  5. CanCan (Mom Most Traveled) says:

    I have ordered from them before! I think I did it by email? Or was it fax? Anyway, yes it was a little confusing, but their catalog has some great information in it about Montessori principles and how to apply them at different stages of your child’s development. It is like a book in itself!

    October 14th, 2008 at 10:32 pm

  6. Tracy says:

    As kids, my brother and I would spread our cards on the table face up. My Nan made us card screens out of two pieces of strong card and some tape. She covered them with fabric and we each had a personal screen. We used them for years….

    October 22nd, 2008 at 7:05 am

Post a comment

(will not be published)