Montessori Monday Lovin Language!

Lovin Language!  What is the best method to teach reading, phonics or whole language?  This is a century old question and I will tell you what method Montessori teaches and why.  Let me first start off by saying that as much as I love Montessori math I LOVE the Montessori method of language instruction even more!  This method of teaching language is so complete and thorough that it not only teaches a child how to read but in the process they will become fluent readers and writers. 

Where do I begin?
Similar to Montessori math, language also starts out very hands on.  Children will learn to build letters and manipulate sounds to spell before they will actually write.  In doing so the child has a complete understanding of the letter and how it is used in the context of words instead of trying to memorize what a foreign symbol is. 

You start out by introducing sandpaper letters.
Sandpaper letters give children a tactile hands on experience with learning letters and sounds.  Here is a great post on living montessori now about sandpaper letters.

After you introduce sandpaper letters and sounds you can add activities to reinforce letter recognition such as sand writing, letter building, play dough, Melissa and doug puzzles, wikki sticks ect.

A sandpaper extension would be beginning sound objects.  Use small, interesting objects in conjunction with the sandpaper letters and place them in baskets for sound sets 1, 2 , 3, 4 and 5.  Everyone has a slightly different method of introducing letter sounds.  This is the method I use. 
sound set one:  m, a, t, s, p
sound set two:  b, c, r, f, e
sound set three:  h, i, d, g, n
sound set four:  j, o, k, l, u, w
sound set five:  x, v, z ,q, y 
As soon as they finish sound set one they can build, spell and read mat, pat, sat, tap, Sam, Pam, map, at and am. 

Also practice blending letters together by saying mmm-aaaa-t say it slow then tell them to say it fast, what does that spell?  Mat!
At this stage play games, games and more games!
Games are a "sneaky" way to reinforce learning without them knowing it.  A few games I like to play are: bingo, I spy, letter hunt and I have who has. 

What happens after they know the sounds?

The next step is the moveable alphabet and the pink series.  This is where it really gets exciting!  It is their opportunity to take the letters and sounds to build words  The first step in this process is to match 3 part cards with a picture and a word that matches the card with both the picture and the word, then they build the word.  

I start out with short a words the pink series is three letter short vowel words.  Continue teaching each set of short vowel words until you finally end with short u words.  Upon completion of this series your child will be able to fluently read CVC or short vowel words!  

What about sight words?
Remember that century old question I asked at the beginning?  Well here is your answer... BOTH methods are best.  In a Montessori language program we teach phonics in conjunction with whole language or sight words.  Sight words are not just words you can't sound out.  They are the most commonly used words in the English language.  I use the dolch list here.

After you teach each set of short vowel words introduce 10 sight words.  This is another area where you play games, games, games.  We have sight words be the magic word of the day.  We use funny voices such as (cowboy, valley girl, movie star and volcano) when introducing the sight words.  This makes it more interesting and fun.   A fun and educational DVD series that I use to introduce sight words is Let's meet the sight words. 

In our classroom and at home we have word wall set up.  Here is a picture of our word wall.  We use the word wall for writing workshop and sight word games.  We play sight word swat, race to the sight word, build a sight word and sight word art. 

By using sight words in conjunction with phonics it will speed up a child's fluency and they will enjoy reading much more!  Giving a child a love for reading is the gift that never stops giving. 

After the pink series is the blue series which is long vowel words and vowel combinations.  A program that uses a good systematic approach to this is primary phonics and they also include a teacher's manual that mirrors Montessori methods. 

BOB books is another great reading series for children and they also have itunes apps that are fabulous! Click here to view those. 

The last part of the reading series is the yellow or green series.  In this step the children learn blends and special sounds.  Allison's Montessori has sandpaper letters that I use to introduce this series.  Once your child has completed all of these steps he will be a fluent reader and enjoy reading!!!  My son is 5 and he reads at a 4th grade reading level because he learned with the Montessori Method starting at age 3.  

I hope this will be a useful guide on your quest to teach your child to read!  Listen to them read and read aloud to them often!

  Reading is the window to the unknown world.   


Weekly Kid's Co-op Link Up 3.23.2012

Weekly Kid’s Co-op

It is the end of the week again and that means another weekly Kid’s

co op!  I am getting to the point where I look forward to this every week.  I can’t wait to see all of the fun creative ideas all of you come up with.  Here are a few of my favorites from last week.

Building with Ice Cubes

25 Easter Crafts

Fine Motor for Fine Arts

O’Keefe Art Lesson

Lasso the Moon

Superheroes and Villians! Happy Birthday Zackman!

Superheroes and Villains

My little Zackman is going to be six next week!  Last year I didn’t blog so I wanted to make a post about his party last year because it was way to fun to be forgotten!  He was really into lego batman on xbox and that gave me the idea to have a superheroes and villains party!  Whenever we have a party in our house the whole family gets involved and we go all out!  Sadly I was so into the party this year I didn’t take pictures of all the fun things we did! 

The week before the party we prepped all of the party decorations.  My husband watches the old Batman show with the kids which made these decorations fun!  I ordered vintage villain masks on these masks were decoration.  We also used them in our scavenger hunt coming up!  I downloaded my printables from love etsy!

After we prepped the decorations my mother in law and I made capes for each child with their initial on the back superman style!  These capes were actually very easy to make and the kids loved them!!!  We just bought felt in different colors.  We cut them out and tried them on our boys for measurements (we are very professional like that haha)   After we cut them we added a Velcro closure on the neck.  I printed out a logo on cardstock then traced it on felt.  We cut out the superman shaped logo and hot glued it all together.  Finally I cut out each initial and glued around it all with glitter glue.  My mother in law sewed a stitch around the logos to finish them off!

We had a craft table set up for the kids to make their own masks.  We also had a table set up with an activity for them to pick a superhero name based on their personality.

We had superhero music and a fog machine going as well.  After the initial activities it was time for Superhero training camp! 

The kids had to do everything a superhero might have to do...crawling, rolling, jumping, climbing, flying and running.  We practiced all of our moves to make sure we were ready for our mission!

Next was our mission.
We got a letter from the major stating that the villains had stolen all of the money from the city bank!  It was our job as superheroes to get the money back!  Beware!  The villains are ready to fight!

We went on a scavenger hunt to find the money.  Along the way each villain came out (Abbie, Allie and friends wearing the vintage villain masks) and threw an Easter egg at them with a clue inside.  The final clue led us to jokers playhouse which was a room filled with balloons and joker was hiding inside with the bags of money.  There were so many balloons the kids couldn’t see the joker hiding and he jumped out and threw the money at them!  It was fantastic!  I was the Joker so sadly we don’t have any pictures.

We ended our day with mighty munchies a batman pinata and superhero cupcakes. 
It was such a fun day this little superhero was worn out! 
I can’t wait for our star wars party this year.
I would love to hear your comments and thoughts! :)
Lasso the Moon

PreK and K Sharing Post Making a Theme Come To Life

We just finished up our pond unit and to make our theme come to life we went to the pond, the feed store and the pet store to actually experience pond habitats in real life!  The kids were thrilled and loved every minute of it!  You can read more about How we made our Theme come to life here at Pre K and K sharing
Let me know what you think!

Spring Has Sprung!

Spring really snuck up on me this year!

 This time last year we were feverishly finishing our remodel on the preschool, it is so hard to believe we have been in our new building for almost one year!  The year has flown by. 

When spring rolls around every year I can’t help but think of new life.  There are birds chirping, new flowers coming up, green grass peeking through and fresh buds on the trees. 
New life also has a greater meaning to me at this time of year.  In two short weeks we will remember the great sacrifice that Jesus did for all of us on that fateful day.  He did this so that we could have new life! 

I am 100 percent about having fun and celebrating with all the novelties that come with Easter but at the same time it is very important that we stop for a moment to remember that Jesus died for you and me so that we could live eternally!  Pass that on to your children so that they too will have new life! 

Happy Spring

Writing Workshop Wednesday and Sensory Art Pond life

I just realized that I haven't done a writing workshop post in awhile.  I am posting pictures of a few things we did for writing this month.  We are working on descriptive writing using adjectives.  In the picture above we talked about the difference between frogs and toads and graphed it on a venn graph.  The children used those descriptions to make a sensory art with bumpy toads and smooth frogs.  I did not tell them how to spell the words they sounded them out using decoding skills. 

To make this sensory art I had small colored noodles and sand out to glue onto the toads.  For the frogs they made a collage of shiny foil paper. 

We started our writing on this day by labeling a pond.  The kids used the labels to write a sentence and draw a picture in their journals.  If you click here you can see our Monet art we made to extend our learning on pond life. 

On this day we worked together to make og family words.  This was a preschool writing workshop.  After we were done the children used the moveable alphabet to write the words.  You can see more of our frog works at this post HERE

This is what Allie wrote about frogs.  It is such a blessing to be able to homeschool while I am also teaching.  She is getting so much out of it and loves it too.  If you click here you can see where we homeschool when we are not at preschool

We also learned the op family and did word works to go along with that.  We played sight word swat with the word swatters and we also played number and sight word lily pad hop.  The children hopped like frogs onto sight words on lily pads that were called out.
Keep writing and reading interesting and fun always! 
Creating + Learning = FUN!

Practical Guide to Practical Life Montessori Monday

Caring for Plants
Practical Life is one of the things that sets Montessori apart from traditional school.  In a Montessori prepared environment the teacher carefully chooses activities to place on the shelves for the children to practice and eventually master.  The practical life shelves consist of “works” that foster independence in practical life skills and fine motor development.  
By teaching a child to serve food by themselves they are learning grace, hospitality and courtesy at a young age. 

A few of these activities may include: 
slicing, chopping, peeling, spooning, transferring, tonging, dusting, polishing, sewing, cleaning, stirring, mixing, sweeping, serving, dressing skills, animal care, hammering, care of self, care of plants, care of animals and pouring. 
The practical life shelves in the classroom can bring the most joy to a child.  All of the practical life shelves in my classroom are theme based and carefully planned to flow into extension activities.  The young child will naturally gravitate to practical life shelves.  It is exciting for children to have meaningful work just like mom and dad. 

As new works are introduced and rotated often it sparks new interest in the child.  Many of the practical life lessons are sequential and build up to mastery.  These activities are not only fun and educational for the child but it also helps develop a great sense of pride in accomplishment.  The practical life skills will stay with them for life. 

Here are some of the works we have out right now in our classroom.  Because most of my practical life works are theme based I am only going to show you a few now and you will see more as they are introduced with new themes. 
This is a slicing work we have out on our shelf right now.  The children slice the banana, then place it the bowl.  They then place toothpicks in the slices and serve the banana pieces.
This is a carrot peeling work.  Usually I have 2 kids working together one is peeling the carrots and one is chopping the carrots.  The one who is chopping the carrots will then serve the children at the snack table a little silicone muffin cup filled with carrot slices.
Carrot chopping fosters hand eye coordination, concentration and fine motor skills. 
Care of plants.  In this work the children are responsible for taking care of the living plants in our class.  I also do this at home with my own children.  They feed the plants just enough water, clean the leaves and remove dead leaves and flowers when necessary.  This produces a great sense of responsibility and care for the environment.  They are very good about noticing when a plant needs care and attention.  I do not even have to remind them!
Sewing.  Sewing is one activity that is definitely sequential and produces fabulous results.  This is step one after the child learns to thread a needle they learn the basic step of lacing and the movement it requires.  After they have mastered this step they move on to the next 4 steps of sewing until they eventually sew their very own doll!!  Even the boys love the sewing works.  It helps with fine motor skills, concentration and self independence.
Care of self.  This is one of our dressing boards found at discount school supply.  Care of self is also another sequential set of activities.  We have several dressing boards that are the basic steps to tying, zippers, lacing, buttons and snaps.  Once they have mastered the boards they move on to dress up items to practice more.  Finally, they practice on them self and have usually mastered the concept at this point.  We have charts to keep track of when a child has mastered a new care of self skill and they children a excited to have their names on those charts. 
Care of animals.  In our classroom we have a guinea pig, fish and tadpoles.  The helpers are responsible for feeding and caring for the animals.  The children love taking care of our animals and watching them grow.  Here is a picture of a little boy feeding "Roxie" a piece of celery.  He is giggling with delight. 
Care for the classroom.  We have trays out on the shelves that allow the kids to clean the classroom.  This one is a table cleaning work with shaving cream and water.  They love this work!
Cooking.  We do many cooking activities.  This is one where the children grind corn to make cornmeal.  We use the cornmeal to make cornbread muffins!

Preparing snack.  We have snack out family style and the children prepare their own snacks.  Here they are practicing spreading by spreading cream cheese on tortillas to make meat and tortilla roll ups.
Baking a cutting out cookies Click here for our unit on Gingerbread Men
Sequential Pouring excersises Pouring starts with two cups the same size and the children pour beans from one cup to the next.  The pouring items gradually get harder and we add water.  Shown here is a girl pouring from a tea pot into two cups.  This is a more difficult pouring work.  Click here for the link to this post

Sweeping into a dustpan, the childre dump the items in the cup onto a square on the floor.  They use the brush and dustpan to carefully sweep the items into the dustpan.  Click here for the link to this post

Crumbing a table is a fun and purposeful work for the children.  They use this small brush and dustpan to "sweep" all of the crumbs off the table after snacks and lunch.  Click here for the link to this post
Through out the year I will post more about our practical life activities.  I love teaching children how to read and understand math but practical life and social skills in the classroom and at home I believe are equally important! 
Happy Spring
Montessori Monday