Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Montessori Language Scheme

As a Montessori Elementary teacher who previously worked in an 3-6 classroom, I have had many opportunities to take children on a reading journey starting from playing the 'I spy game', progressing gently until they become better readers than I.

As many of you already know, in the Montessori method children learn to read phonetically. As far as I know we have two different English reading schemes that various Montessori teachers and organisations use. These are as follows:

The Muriel Dwyer method:

Here the children will begin the language scheme by various language games and the 'I spy game'. Dwyer identifies 40 sounds in the English language, 26 with single letter symbols and 14 with double letter symbols. Children are introduced to the sandpaper letters for the 40 sounds. 26 letters will be the usual a-z sandpaper letters and 14 will be of double letters and are usually on a green background. Once the children know all the letters they then work with the moveable alphabet making words which contain the 40 sounds. Children are provided with two baskets containing objects, the teacher will write words for each object for the child to read. The child will then progress onto 13 phonogram folders that contain different spellings for key sounds. This is a very short explanation of the Dwyer language scheme, you can read more about it on What We Do All Day, she has some great posts about this scheme. There is also a book written by Muriel Dwyer called 'A Path for the Exploration of Any Language Leading to Writing and Reading' and can be purchased here.

The Pink, Blue and Green series:

In this scheme the children will also begin with various language games and the I spy game. After completing these games, the children will begin working with the sandpaper letters learning the symbols for letter sounds a-z [letters can be learnt in any order]. Once the child has mastered all the sandpaper letters they will be introduced to the Pink Series. The pink series contains 3 letter phonetic CVC [consonant vowel consonant] words. The child will begin with making CVC words with the moveable alphabet and gradually progress through the materials to reading short stories that contain CVC words. Next is the blue series, here the child will be working with 4 letter phonetic words and progress onto much longer phonetic words. The child will begin with making the words and progress onto reading stories containing blue level words. Finally the child will work with the green series which contains phonograms and letter diagraphs.

There are also other schemes that I have seen being used in Montessori schools that are neither Dwyer nor Pink Blue and Green, but seem to be a combination of the two.

When I trained many years ago I learnt to use the Pink, Blue and Green series. I began working with the Pink Blue and Green series, but as time progressed and the children got older I noticed some short comings in the scheme. As the children progressed further and new children began working with the scheme, I was able to study the series further and managed to refine the scheme so that it works better and suited the needs of all children.

I have seen and witnessed the Dwyer scheme being used, I like some activities from it however from experience I have found the 40 sandpaper letters to be too much and at times confusing for the child. I have taken some activities from the Dwyer scheme and use them with the Pink Blue and Green series.

My next post will be about the Pink Series and with example of how it can be used at home.


Annicles said...

In RP English there are 44 different phonemes but in North England only 42, in some American accents 42 but in others only 40. You have to be careful about the pronunciation of phonemes because there is no hard and fast rule.

THRASS is an interesting system to look at, although it is usually taught in classes so you have to unpick the lessons from the theory. The THRASS chart is a very useful tool.

Letters and Sounds is good too. It is a synthetic phonics system and is very good on the prereading side too. I find all the Montessori styles to be too constrictive on their own and use a variety of different methods depending on each child.

N from the Learning Ark said...

Thank you Annicles for your informative comment.

The best way a Montessori teacher can work with reading and writing, is by following each individual child, by making observations to see what they need and providing it for them. Each child has their own learning style and therefore the activities and schemes will change according to the child who is working with it. I'd love to hear more about what you use in your school!

Anonymous said...

We've used a hodge podge of both just depending on what was working and what wasn't. Thanks for your write on the two methods.