Sunday, February 5, 2017

Montessori Green Reading Program - Reimagined

I am pleased to introduce the reformatted and imagined Green reading program.  This has been years in the making and there are still portions under construction.  There are some specific reasons this has happened and I think it worth having a discussion about learning to read.

There are enough children in the world that do not learn language easily and smoothly.  I have known droves of children who could quickly move ahead in reading.  They made jumps in a single day.  Some of my own children could do that, some could not.  Because my oldest daughter really struggled to learn to read it has become very important for me to learn how to break the Montessori language program down in a way that it will fill in those gaps.  There are plenty of children who enter my life every year who also struggle to learn reading.  I want such a challenge to be beatable.  These children need explicit instruction and it is our challenge to do that in such a way that compliments a Montessori, self learning style.  You can never tell which rules someone will get quickly, and which have to be broken down.  It varies so widely.

What I have been looking for is something that truly scaffold skills.  Since all the reading programs we have purchased and tried are either missing too much, do not build skills on each other, or do not follow a coherent pattern I have decided to do it myself.  I do not in any way believe I am remotely finished with updates and changes to the program, but this is a great start!

The groupings have changed significantly from any of my previous work.  I have reference the Orton-Gilligham sequence as well as several other well known programs.  I have tried to stay close to the OG method while still making allowances for the needs of this program.  Because of the scaffolding nature of this sequence it would be very tricky to find images if we stayed purely with the OR sequence so there had to be some changes made.

First I should like to bring to your attention the way in which all the parts of the program are used.  For each difficulty there are 6 steps.  NOTICE that the difficulty is isolated in red.

#1 - Picture to Word Cards: using this work the child matches all the picture cards to the corresponding word card.  There is a control of error on the back of each card for the self checking.  When checking for mastery the guide sits with the child while they show their knowledge.  If a child peeks at the back of the card you would simply say something like, "You are getting close.  Try it again and get me when you feel you've got it."  Once there has been mastery the child then records these words in their language notebook or binder.

Picture to Word Cards

#2 - Domino Cards: this work is new, fun, and engaging for the children.  Each domino has the word first and the child looks for the matching picture to be found at the bottom of the mat.  There is a red dot at both the beginning and the end to show where to start and stop.  Mastery is shown by the guide watching the child put the domino chain together independently.  Once mastery has been achieved the child records these words in their language notebook or binder.


#3 - Word Booklets: the child practices reading words in booklet form.  Mastery is shown when the child reads through the book with ease.  Once mastery has been achieved the child records these words in their language notebook or binder.  This booklet acts as a means for the child to practice their knew skill.

Single Word Booklets

#4 - Printed Moveable Alphabet Sentence Building with Picture Prompts: Several of the children in my current class have said that this is their favorite part of each drawer.  Each card has an interesting picture with a word containing the specific difficulty on the back.  The black and red printed alphabet are used to create a sentence of the child's choosing.  There is often a need to coach the child for a few sentences before they begin to figure out how to make their own sentences based on the picture.  They feel pretty accomplished with their sentences.  The spelling/punctuation we are most concerned with is the isolated difficulty (i.e. a-e saying long a) and capitals and periods.  Inventive spelling is fine except in the case of any previously learned difficulties or punctuation lessons a specific child has had during Writer's Workshop or Word Study.  Once they have had their sentence checked by a guide they record it in their language notebook or binder.  This work provides a motivation for spelling as well as for writing practice.

Picture Prompts for Building Sentences with the Printed Alphabet

#4a - Red and Black Printed Alphabets in Lower and Uppercase Letters: In the lesson presentation portion of this post you can learn how to use these files for your classroom.  I keep my sets in these boxes from Amazon:

Red and Black Printed Alphabet in Uppercase Letters 

Red and Black Printed Alphabet in Lowercase Letters

#5 - Word Lists: This work is meant to give the child practice in reading more words with this isolated difficulty.  When the child can read all of the words with ease and fluency they may then write the words in their language notebook or binder.  Notice that the difficulty is no longer in red.

Word Lists

#6 - Sentence Strips: The child reads for practice a set of four sentences for each difficulty.  High frequency words (Fry words are used) are included in the weekly practice for the child.  The full set of Pink, Blue and Green word cards in sets will be made available once the series is completed.  Once a child can smoothly and fluently read their sentence to a guide they may write it down in their language notebook or binder. Early Elementary: Be certain to edit with the child for capitalization and punctuation.

Sentence Strips

_ _ _ _ _

An Initial Presentation

When I begin the first drawer with the children I set them down with the entire drawer and all its components and the black and red printed alphabets.  There will be some children who have the capacity to be at this reading level and still need an individual presentation on each component so take that into account when preparing for this lesson.  Each pouch is numbered and I point that out to the children.  I let them know that they are so advanced now they will be able to begin working through these boxes at their own pace and as quickly as they are ready.   This tends to get them excited right from the start.  I let them know that each new box (or set of boxes) needs a lesson and say you get to have your first lesson right now.  I introduce the black and red printed alphabet.  I say that because they are now more advanced they may use this special kind of moveable alphabet.  Since the first set is Magic e I use the black printed alphabet to write the word can.  I say, "This is the word can.  I am going to add the letter e to the end of the word can."  I add the letter e and say, "This letter e is going to change the word can into something new."  I then take the red printed  e out of the box and lay it at the end of the word.  I then lay the red a over the black a.  I say that when an e is added to the end of a word it usually makes the vowel say its name and we discover together what new word we have made.  We practice with several other words (including other vowels such as pin/pine, hop/hope, cub/cube); always adding the red e at the end and laying the red vowel over the black one.  Once we finish this part of the lesson I say that there are several parts to one box and they need to do them in order.  I also say how important it is that each one be mastered before moving onto the next.  If there are children who need each part of the lesson explained I will only present one step of the box at a time. (Many Early Childhood children fall under this category).   I pull out #1 - Picture to Word Card Matching and mention that they will recognize this work from the blue reading series.  I do a quick refresher on how to do this work and let them know to find an adult to see their work when they are ready to master it.  I then put that one away in the box and pull out #2 - Word and Picture Dominoes and show show special interest in the beginning and ending dots.  I say, "You will know where to begin and where to end by paying attention to these dots."  I put together the first set of dominoes so they can see how this work is done and tell them to find a guide when they are ready to master off this work.  I return this work to the box and move on to #3 - Single Word Booklets.  I mention how quickly they will be able to read these new words with all the practice they will be getting in.  I show them how to read through the booklet and make certain to find the front page to set it right for the next person and tell them to find a guide when they are ready to master off this work.  I put this work back in the box and get ready to show #4 - Picture Prompts for Sentence Building with the Moveable Alphabet.   I show one picture card on the front and then flip it onto the back.  I like to show the pink lake first because it is a bit sensational.  I say, "Look, Here is a lake and it is pink!  Look here on the back of this card, it says lake.  I am going to write a sentence about this lake on my mat."  I proceed to ask them what kind of sentence I could build about a pink lake.  I take their suggestions and build a sentence.  I make certain to point out that the difficulty will be in red and nothing else.  I put this work back as well as the printed alphabet letters and move onto #5 - Word Lists.  I mention how they will recognize how this work from the blue reading series and tell them to find a guide when they feel they are ready to master this work and return this work to the box.  I show them #6 - Sentence Strips as well as the matching High Frequency Words set.  I tell them that this work will help them become good readers and that the sentences have the High Frequency Words in them that will help them read a lot of other things as well.  I return this work to the box.  I reiterate the importance of finding a guide before moving from one work to another as well as the requirement that only one work from the box be out at a time.  I let them know they may do this work whenever they like and have the children help me return all the parts of the lesson to their proper place before allowing them to use it.  Sometimes a new set of difficulties will require a new lesson about how to use the set, but often each new box needs a new lesson on the rule that accompanies it.  You can never suppose anything and it it much better to be safe than for the children to flounder and get frustrated.

Finally - The Green Reading Series has been uploaded to the Free Downloads site here.  You can navigate through the different sets that are available now and I will update more as I get them.  I am currently working on the sentence strips for Set D.  There is a Reading Program Check-off List we use and it will become also become available when the program is finished.


  1. Hi, Cathie! I came across your web site when I was looking for orchestra nomenclature cards for my daughter's classroom, and I've really enjoyed everything I've read so far.

    Do you have any resources that you can recommend regarding developing work ethic in children? My oldest daughter is in her first year at a wonderful Montessori school, but she came into the classroom at age 5 as a "third year" student. She has struggled since September with motivation, focus, and decision making. I'm looking for any and all information that I can find to help her carry the love of learning that I see in her at home into her classroom, where she prefers to socialize and avoid challenging work.

    I've had difficulty finding much on the web on this topic, so I'm hoping an experienced Montessorian such as yourself might be able to point me in the right direction. Thank you so much for any help you can offer!


    1. Before I attempt to answer this question may I ask more about your daughter's motivation at home? This will help me a lot.

  2. Thank you Cathie for this wonderful work

  3. Thank you so much Cath! All of your works really help me to teach my children reading in english. Thank you😄 may God always bless you darl...