Thursday, October 1, 2015

Montessori Phonograms - Key Sounds

In the English language, there are 16 "key" phonograms: 

ai, er, ie, ee, or, ue, oo, qu, th, ch, oy, sh, ou, oa, ar, au

All others are variations on these ;) 

The sandpaper letter phonograms

The sandpaper letters phonograms should be introduced at the same time as the individual sandpaper letters - learn 3-5 individuals, then introduce a phonogram; continue introducing one new one at a time with individuals in between such that all sandpaper letters, individual and phonogram, are finished up at about the same time - typically 3 weeks after beginning the first sandpaper letters ;)

In this way, the children can immediately write anything with the movable alphabet, without needing prompts or guides as to what they can write versus what they have not yet learned - they'll have learned it all! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Longevity of Montessori: Mathematics

The Montessori approach meets the needs of children where they are at - both collectively and individually. Therefore, it is an approach that meets the needs of ALL children. The only limitation is the preparedness of the adult to meet those needs ;)

A recent post at introduces this concept as it applies to primary (3-6) and elementary (6-12). Montessori is Developmental

Even in our material,

Let's look at math specifically - just some highlights: 

With infants and toddlers, we do a lot of natural one-to-one correspondence. Few toys, each that belongs in a particular place. Matching activities in sizes, shapes, colors. Helping to set the meal-table using a diagram of what goes where.

We can also give the language of numbers (counting), and children love language at this age, so most do pick up on counting numbers, although they typically skip a few numbers or repeat a few sequences ;)

Primary Mathematics:
While we don't typically start math in primary until around age 4, we begin with a few materials that extend into primary mathematics as well as into use at elementary and adolescence. Sensorial and Mathematics materials are both noted here:

  • Red rods - extend into the number rods 
  • All the groups of ten we have extend into the decimal system
  • Pink Tower and Brown Stair can be used in geometry at elementary
  • Binomial Cube and Trinomial Cube (elementary and adolescence)
  • Geometry Cabinet and Solids (elementary)
  • Golden beads (elementary and adolescence)
  • Bead Cabinet and contents (elementary and portions in adolescence)
  • Snake games (if you purchase the negative snake game, it includes all you need for primary as well as elementary and adolescence)
  • Decanomial bead bar box (elementary and adolescence)
  • Stamp game (elementary and adolescence)
  • Short Division with Racks and Tubes becomes Long Division with Racks and Tubes (elementary)

Common Threads: 
  • Place value color-coding remains consistent throughout all levels - into the checkerboards that are the visualization of the multiplication process, the bank game (just numbered cards, no beads), and more.
  • The bead cabinet colors also remain consistent through all levels - even into the solid wood blocks of the cubing material that is used in elementary and adolescence. 

Additional posts of interest:

Toddler Exercises of Practical Life

All Montessori Trails posts on Mathematics

Mathematics Logic Game from Wff'n Proof

Review post on Adolescent Algebra Album

And that, dear friends, is today's show ;) 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Montessori Scope and Sequence Options

UPDATE: I have set up a dedicated page for this post: 
I aim to keep that one up-to-date. 

Montessori Scope and Sequence Options

All of these are free options! And there are many more out there, also free.
(paid variations are listed further below)

Benefits of a scope/sequence - give you some idea of what is developmentally appropriate within a range of years.

Each scope and sequence option below is in a different format, with different a different focus. Some are based on AMI, some are AMS, some are a compilation of several, and some are just straight-up independent. Look through them, see which styles speak to you. Hopefully, this will show you that there is no one right to get the job done, except this way: follow the needs of the child!

Albums or manuals or videos or online resources will help flesh out what each activity is, how to use the materials and ensure Montessori experiences that don't require materials. The options currently available to Montessori Homeschoolers are listed here at Montessori Nuggets - Montessori Albums.

Infant through Age 12 (could include Adolescence): 
Montessori Works (free for first 5 students listed)

Infant and/or Toddler (0-3)
(the ones listed above mostly include 0-3 as well)

Primary (ages 3-6)
The Helpful Garden (incomplete - does not include the kindergarten year)
Montessori Print Shop (visit the "overview" for each of the subject areas)
Montessori Story typing up the Gettman periods
Keys of the World (word .doc download) - link to it is here: Montessori Trails - Keys Albums
What Did We Do All Day? (mathematics only)
(and see the ones in the first listing above)

Elementary (ages 6-12)
Hilltop Montessori - upper elementary only
Montessori World - lower elementary only
What Did We Do All Day? (mathematics only)
(and see the ones in the first listing above)

Adolescence (12-18)

Pay-For Variations: 

Infant through Age 12 (could include Adolescence): 
Montessori Works (free for first 5 students listed)

Infant and/or Toddler (0-3)
Montessori For Everyone - Toddlers
(the ones listed above mostly include 0-3 as well)

Primary (ages 3-6)
Montessori for Everyone - Primary (3-6)
Montessori Story - typed up the Gettman book "Basic Montessori"
AMI & Keys of the World - available at Garden of Francis
(and see the ones in the first listing above)

Elementary (ages 6-12)
Montessori for Everyone - Lower Elementary - Upper Elementary
AMI & Keys of the Universe - available at Garden of Francis

(and see the ones in the first listing above)

Adolescence (12-18)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Montessori and Fairy Tales

What did Montessori actually speak about Fairy Tales:

"Now, everyone who knows my name says that I am against fairy tales. Apparently I say they are dangerous to a children's mind. 
But you must know that I never assert anything that I have merely reasoned out, because if I did that it would just be a theory of no importance. It would be just a matter of opinion and therefore not a serious statement. Serious statements must come from observation - this is the truth. I have never before given an opinion on this subject. 
So, if I were against fairy tales, it would not be because of a capricious idea of mine but because of certain facts, facts observed many times. These facts have come from the children themselves and not from my own reasoning. (she goes on to describe following the children's truest, deepest interests and choices - choices for valuable work that led to a leaving behind of certain negative qualitites) The great love of fairy tales disappears too. (continues with the children walking away from fairy tale stories) This shows that children listen, or at least the older ones do, but inside they have more important urges of nature. So we do not see complete interest. If they are free to do something else, children will choose something that is more important to their development.  
(The 1946 London Lectures Lecture 26: Truth and Fairy Tales)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Montessori Cursive - Original Cursive Materials

Building on a previous Montessori Nugget: Which comes first - cursive or print - writing or reading?

From Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook (the link is to the free edition on - a great historical piece, NOT where I would recommend anyone *start* their Montessori reading, but for historical value, this book and The Montessori Method are interesting.

Scroll down the section entitled:

Exercises for the Writing of Alphabetical Signs

For the section on the cursive letters used at the time. (the method/experience itself was tweaked over the years to respond the needs of the universal child - and greatly simplified). 

So the children ONLY learned cursive. Yet they could read this: 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Montessori Elementary: Three Essential Tools

Straight from AMI Training:

The three tools Dr. Montessori suggested we use to develop freedom and responsibility in the elementary children are:
1.       The public school curriculum,
2.      Individual work journals,
3.       Individual weekly meetings between the teacher and each child <------ THIS is the work plan!!!! Not a checklist ;) 

Link to the Montessori Guide site - the three important tools.

Another Montessori Nugget on this topic: Why have Work Plans in Elementary? 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Montessori: What Comes First?

In Montessori, when we follow the observations made by Maria Montessori and our own observations when we remove all culturally-imbedded bias, we discover some interesting things:

Writing come first. Followed by a discovery of reading. 

The adult provides the keys to writing, the child discovers he can read; the teacher has done less work, the child has found greater joy.

Cursive comes first. Following by a discovery of the ability to read and write in any writing style. 

The adult provides the keys to writing in cursive. The child discovers he can read anything in print and can replicate it when he needs to. The teacher again has done less work, the child has found greater joy in all the discoveries of the world around him.

Maria Montessori herself on writing, reading and cursive: 

Source: The Montessori Method by Maria Montessori pages 300-302

Coming into the school one day, I found that the directress had allowed the children to take the tables and chairs out upon the terrace, and was having school in the open air. A number of little ones were playing in the sun, while others were seated in a circle about the tables containing the sandpaper letters and the movable alphabet. 
A little apart sat the directress, holding upon her lap [Page 301]  a long narrow box full of written slips, and all along the edge of her box were little hands, fishing for the beloved cards. "You may not believe me," said the directress, "but it is more than an hour since we began this, and they are not satisfied yet!" We tried the experiment of bringing balls, and dolls to the children, but without result; such futilities had no power beside the joys of knowledge. 

Seeing these surprising results, I had already thought of testing the children with print, and had suggested that the directress print the word under the written word upon a number of slips. But the children forestalled us! There was in the hall a calendar upon which many of the words were printed in clear type, while others were done in Gothic characters. In their mania for reading the children began to look at this calendar, and, to my inexpressible amazement, read not only the print, but the Gothic script.
There therefore remained nothing but the presentation of a book, and I did not feel that any of those available were suited to our method. 
The mothers soon had proofs of the progress of their children; finding in the pockets of some of them little slips of paper upon which were written rough notes of marketing done; bread, salt, etc. Our children were making lists of the marketing they did for their mothers! Other mothers told us that their children no longer ran through the streets, but stopped to read the signs over the shops. 
A four-year-old boy, educated in a private house by the same method, surprised us in the following way. The child's father was a Deputy, and received many letters. He knew that his son had for two months been taught by means of exercises apt to facilitate the learning of read- [Page 302]  ing and writing, but he had paid slight attention to it, and, indeed, put little faith in the method. One day as he sat reading, with the boy playing near, a servant entered, and placed upon the table a large number of letters that had just arrived. The little boy turned his attention to these, and holding up each letter read aloud the address. To his father this seemed a veritable miracle. 
As to the average time required for learning to read and write, experience would seem to show that, starting from the moment in which the child writes, the passage from such an inferior stage of the graphic language to the superior state of reading averages a fortnight. Security in reading is, however, arrived at much more slowly than perfection in writing. In the greater majority of cases the child who writes beautifully, still reads rather poorly.

A fortnight! Two WEEKS!?

Yes, it still happens today. But it happens when we give the children a strong foundation in aural awareness, then all the sandpaper letters (single letters and multi-letters) mixed together within 3-6 weeks, then they start writing with the movable alphabet (their OWN ideas) - and suddenly they are reading.