Tuka Rachid, a 27-year-old mother of two toddlers, decided to pause her career as a mental health therapist to focus on rearing her children.  Her days are now filled chasing after two active kids, watching them grow and helping them develop.   

When she started thinking about their formal educations, she was taken by the Montesorri theory of child development, which holds that kids are born knowing what they need to learn, and if they’re surrounded by the right experiential materials, they can essentially educate themselves. 

Tuka Rachid

“I was learning about like, being a parent, parenting and all that fun jazz,” Rachid said. “Then I came across Montessori. But buying the toys or the materials that come with Montessori can get really pricey. The majority of it is made of wood. Buying an item or two is fine, but if you’re trying to get all of them you’re going to rack up a bill.” 

Rachid thought maybe she could save a few bucks by building one of two basic things herself, but she had never even used a drill.  

So, she watched Do-It-Yourself videos on the Internet.   

Rachid and her son

“Little by little, I started picking up from Instagram and YouTube and plans on Google,” she said. “The videos would say, ‘I’ve never done this before, and now I can. Look at what I just built.’  I was like, ‘Yeah, I could probably do that too.’” 

She bought the tools, and collected the wood, then seemingly overnight became a self-taught carpenter, churning out hand-crafted, well rounded Montessori materials, from a workbench in her Bridgeview garage, while her two toddlers were napping.  

It was a hidden skill she found and subsequently celebrated in her humorous social media posts on her Instagram account @buildingxjoy.   

In making Montessori materials, she received her own sort of Montessori education, teaching herself confidence and independence.  

 “The process of actually building and making is just so meditative,” Rachid said. “It’s just being able to connect and change on so many different levels.”