Thursday, November 24, 2011

Montessori Pink Reading Series

Dear Montessori Professionals, Administrators, and homeschooling parents, Welcome to the Pink Reading Series!  These are like my babies.  I have loved teaching my own children with these works, teaching lots of other children over the years, and I am very much looking forward to teaching my grand babies with these Pink Reading files!

Children write, or build words with a movable alphabet, before they read.  This is called encoding before decoding.  We present from the most concrete to the most abstract in order to prepare the child for the greatest success.  We support the child in their work by giving naming lessons and demonstrating how to complete the work without using unnecessary speaking.  Then we turn the work over to the child and watch from a distance to see how they do.  We do not correct them, even if we wish to, at the time of use so as not to interrupt their own learning.  When they need more instruction we give them a new lesson.  We support children as much as they need.  They need help until they don't need help.  As long as a child is striving for forward movement we work to trust that the child will make that movement.

Montessori Pink Reading Level #1 - Word Building with Objects and the Movable Alphabet
This work requires a Movable Alphabet.  If you do not have one yet you could look at one of the many Montessori supply sites or even download this paper one from here.  The file includes some instructions for possible set-up.  In steps 1 - 4 the child will need a naming lesson as part of the initial presentation.  Name the object and ask, "What is the first sound in the word 'ram'? (say the ENTIRE word slowly while emphasizing the first sound) Do you hear the 'rrr' at the beginning of 'ram'?"  Lay down the movable alphabet r.  Say, "What is the next sound in the word 'ram'? (say the ENTIRE word slowly while emphasizing the middle sound) Do you hear the 'aaaa'?"  Lay down the 'aaa'.  Say, "What is the LAST sound you hear in the word 'ram'? (say the ENTIRE word slowly while emphasizing the last sound) Do you hear the 'mmm'?"  Lay down the 'm'.  Do this for each object.  Once you have finished presenting all the objects and built the words show the child how to put this work away and then give the child the chance to use this work.  Watch from afar so as to not correct the child in their work.  This is the most authentic assessment of their skill level.  If they need a new presentation you can do that at another time.

Pink Reading Series Level #1 Objects & Movable Alphabet

Montessori Pink Reading Level #2 - Word Building with Pictures and the Movable Alphabet
Once a child has had practice with level on they can move to level 2.  These pictures with the Movable Alphabet gives the child more practice in writing words (encoding) with the movable alphabet. These cards include a correction of error with the word spelled correctly on the back.  If a child wants to look at the back for the first several times until they feel comfortable that is absolutely fine.  They need help until they do not.  The correction of error is there to help them be as independent as possible with this work.
Pink Reading Level #2 Pictures & Movable Alphabet

Montessori Pink Reading Level #3 - Word Reading with Objects and Word Cards
In this set the child will sound out the word cards and match them to the corresponding objects.  I have included a large bank of noun cards to hopefully help in your search for phonetic objects for each pouch. 
Pink Reading Level #3 Objects & Word Cards

Montessori Pink Reading Level #4 - Word Reading with Pictures and Word Cards
Once the child has mastered set 4 they are 'becoming so advanced" and "can read so many things"!  This set also has a self correction on the back of the cards.  They have corresponding dingbats.  Children will sometimes opt to do all the sets of cards in one sitting and others want to take it one pouch at a time.
Pink Reading Level #4 Picture and Word Cards

Montessori Pink Reading Level #5 - Single Word Booklets with Pictures as Control of Error
Because these booklets only focus on a single word with a picture following on the next page, children are more at ease reading their first books.  At this stage the children will be a shaky in their skill but these booklets give immediate feedback without teacher intervention.

Pink Reading Level #5 Word Booklets

Montessori Pink Reading Level #6 - Word Lists
Word Lists have their worth in helping children feel more at ease with multiple words on a page.  It can be hard to focus on one word when there are others around them.  If they really struggle to focus on just one word a hider can be made from a bit of cardstock about the length of the card with a window cut out the size of the words.

Pink Reading Level #6 Word Lists

Montessori Pink Reading Level #7 - The Vowel Tree
I do so love the Vowel Tree.  This supports in another important skill for children.  Listening and discerning between real and nonsense words as well as becoming comfortable with not trying to make a word out of everything they read.  This skill is actually much more important than one might think.  When a child moves on from beginning reading and starts to read words with multiple syllables they benefit greatly from having practiced nonsense words because bigger words are made up of a lot of nonsense until you put it all together.  If a child is too hung up on making nonsense make sense they can struggle more to read bigger words.  This work is fun to make into a bit of a joke.  Kids need that in their reading.  If I can make light of the words that do not make sense they will associate happiness with them.  Think like the master of fun nonsense - Dr. Seuss.  There are two files for this work: first the printable Vowel Tree and then the cards to accompany.  The cards need holes punched in the center large enough to see the vowels.  I have been very careful in my choice of letter combinations so that nothing surprises anyone!

Pink Reading Series Level #7 Printable Vowel Tree and Cards

Montessori Pink Reading Level #8 - Pink Vowel Substitution Cards
Once a child is more comfortable with the Vowel Tree it is a great time to introduce Vowel Substitution.  In this set of work the child is seeing the picture and sounding out the word.  They use the Substitution Vowels at the end of the file to fill in the missing vowels.  This work is self correcting with the correct vowel printed on the back of the cards.

Pink Reading Series Level #8 Vowel Substitution Cards

Montessori Pink Reading Level #9 - Pink Level Rhyming Families Mats & Word Cards
Rhyming skills should be practiced continuously from the Phonemic Awareness level all the way through a child's reading career.  This is the Pink Level individual rhyming work.  At the line in class  week we will practice rhyming families a few times a week.  This work supports the child's developing understanding of spelling patterns.  This work has a correction of error which matches a colored dot on each mat with a corresponding colored dot on the back of each word card.
Pink Reading Series Level #9 Rhyming Families

Montessori Pink Reading Level #10 - Pink Level Command Cards
This work is awfully fun to do with a partner.  The children deal these cards into two decks and sit apart from each other with the cards facing down.  This is all about silent reading practice and the joy of acting something out for a friend.  They can ask the tonekeeper or assistant for help reading any card they need but they need to try to keep it all a secret from their partner.  They act out the command on the card and see if their partner can guess what their card says.  It is important to note that this work is never meant to become a competition.  Once they are finished with a card it simply goes into the middle of the table or rug as finished.

Pink Reading Series Level #10 - Command Cards

Montessori Pink Reading Level #11 - Pink Level Smooth Reading Practice Large Word Cards
At this level we want the child to begin working on reading smoothly from one sound to the next.  This takes only a little practice for some and a lot for others.  There are 12 possible sets of about 20 cards each.  When I use this work with a child I use a small yellow piece of cardstock with a line drawn on it to draw attention to the sound we are saying until we smoothly move to the next sound.  When a child "chops" their sound I will say, "Let's try that again" and then I sound the word out with them.  We are NOT trying to be speedy with this work.  In fact I always tell the children that this work is not a race because we want this work to be smooth.  I will sit next to the child once they have practiced on their own for a while and then whichever words they have been successful in reading smoothly goes into their pile.  Anything they are still working on stays with me.  I may choose to work through the ones they are still working on depending on their level of engagement with the work.

Pink Reading Series Level #11 Smooth Reading Cards

Montessori Pink Reading Level #12 - Phrases Cards
We want the child to become familiar with reading words together on a card.  Phrases are a great way to practice this skill.  These phrases are simple and only use the sight word "a".  I always teach their new sight word before having them practice reading their phrases.

Pink Reading Series Level #12 Pink Phrases

Montessori Pink Reading Level #13 - Pink Level Sight Words
At this stage we can begin working with children on their sight words.  In the Phrases we introduced the word 'a'.  Now we will begin introducing the rest of the Pink Level Sight Words.  Sight words support the child in their desire to be involved in their world at large.  The more a child can read on a sign or in a book the more they will feel like a reader.  Sight Words are words a child memorizes.  There can be some controversy in Montessori Circles concerning sight words.  After many trainings both in the private and public sector, and in years of teaching and observation, I am convinced of their importance to successful reading. At the Pink Level we almost exclusively focus on words that follow the Pink Reading Rules.  There are a few exceptions with words like 'a', 'I', 'the', and a few other words that have an 's' at the end of them but it says the 'zzzz' sound.

These words have been taken from the FRY (First 1000 Words) list of most common words.  My "Why" for using this as my basis is because FRY is a list of words most commonly used in literature. Moving onto the next Pink Reading Level and even onto Blue Reading before these words are mastered is fine and, frankly, important.  You don't want a child to loose their forward momentum because they don't have all their Pink Sight Words memorized.  Just keep working on them with them.

To begin with we will introduce two.  The word 'the' and the word 'a'.  We follow the Three Period Lesson format for introduction as follows:

1st Period - Lay each word card on the table or rug and say:
This is "the"
This is "a"

2nd Period - Instruct the following:
Point to "the"
Point to "a"
Pick up "a"
Pick up "the"

3rd Period - Say:
What is that? (pointing to each card individually)
When a child knows a card they can keep it in their pile.

You may add new words in order as long as the child is up for it and it is enjoyable for the child.  In subsequent presentations do a quick check as follows:
"Whatever sight words you know we will put in your pile.  Whichever you are still working on I will keep in my pile."  Go through cards and wait only about 3 or so seconds.  Tell the child the word for any cards they do not have down. Once finished say (unless the child has gotten zero cards), "You knew ___."  Go through the pile of practice cards a few times again and practice the word with the child.  When a child knows most of the cards they are working on you may say, "You are advanced enough now to add more words."  Add a few at a time following the 3 Period Lesson Format.  When at the 2nd and 3rd periods you may add back in cards they already know.

Pink Reading Series Level 13 Pink Level Sight Words

Montessori Pink Reading Level #14 - Matching Pictures & Sentence Strips
The last work in the Pink Reading Series is matching sentences to their corresponding picture.  There are a few more sight words in this set that need to be introduced before a presentation on this work.

Pink Reading Series Level #14 Matching Pictures & Sentence Strips

Montessori Pink Reading Series Level #15 - Nonsense Words Reading Cards
More practice with nonsense words will support children in their reading later on.  These last two steps support this aim.  Children who have a good mastery of nonsense words generally have greater facility in reading later on.

Pink Reading Series Level #15 Nonsense Word Cards

Montessori Pink Reading Series Level #16 - Word & Nonsense Word Sorting Cards
Once the children have mastered or almost mastered the Nonsense Words cards they can begin this set.  They are reading words and determining if they are real words or nonsense words.   There are two header cards to sort underneath.  This set has a correction of error on the back of the differing sets.


  1. I don't really know how to tell in which reading group my daughter belongs. She reads lots of Dick and Jane books already, but she doesn't recognize any non-"Dick and Jane" words. I just barely got introduced to Montessori by Audrey. My daughter is 5. Which level and step should I start her with?

    1. This is a really good question. In particular if you are moving from a different way of teaching reading to the Montessori reading scheme.

      I think that it will be superbly important to understand whether your child knows her words by sight, or because she understands how to build words by using sounds. I would take the simple phonetic words, on the pink slips - in the phonetic baskets (these can be found on my blog under the language arts label) and go through them with her. If she can read these words with ease, then you are safe to move to the blue set. Use the phonetic baskets cards to find her place. wherever she finds challenge - that is the place she belongs. The light blue and dark blue cards are both part of blue reading, and the green cards are kind of a bridge between blue and green reading. If she were to be challenged with the pink cards you would be right to start at the beginning.

      Once you have found her spot, it is important that she is presented with reading material that is engaging to her. If she is somewhere in the pink reading material, you should probably have all those materials available for her (the procedure is the same if she is ready for the blue level).

      You might want to take this into consideration: Even though I changed from what I was using previously to the Montessori reading materials when my oldest was about age 7, she still really enjoyed going back through the pink and blue reading materials with her younger siblings. I wanted to take care of some dropped stitches and to make sure she never felt she had missed out. She had had a hard time learning to read up to that point, and for that reason I was looking for a different approach. I actually believe that this time in her life made all the difference later in her moving from someone who disliked the struggle she found in reading to someone who loves the written word today. To say that about her is an understatement. Reading is like chocolate. I realize that you can never thank the people who have impacted your life enough. Thank you Audrey, you are one of my heroes.

      Thank you for your comment, and if there is anything I can do to help or add explanation, let me know.

  2. I printed out the Pink Reading Level #2, and the vowels at the end have 2 "o"s and no "u". Is there any way you can fix that? Your site is SO helpful! Thank you SO much!

    1. Thanks for the correction. I knew that there would be at least a few oversights. I have fixed it.

  3. Hi - I am SO grateful for your website! Just noticed that in level 4 - the pictures for bus and rug are muddled.
    Thanks for the amazing resource!

    1. Since all the pictures and word cards are cut out separately I have decided not to change that one.

  4. Good morning

    The cards for "O" in the Level 6 do not appear clearly like the others. Thank you for your help.

  5. Oups! My mistake! The card O does not appear clearly in the Word List serie. Thanks again for your help

    1. I am not seeing that same problem from this end. Have you tried printing it out in black and white to check for quality first? Might it just be that the document looks fuzzy online? Try downloading it and see if the quality improves.

  6. I have not yet seen materials made this beautifully. Well done! and a big thank you. I have just moved country and my son has started reading, I couldnt get any English reading books, so your materials will do me so much good. My son still doesnt think he can read because he hasnt been able to read a book yet :( I will be making some. But a big thank you for the materials he will enjoy using them so much.

  7. As so many other have expressed, I am grateful to you for your generosity in sharing these beautifully made materials. Because I am in an AMI certified school, I have had to make labels in cursive. If you are interested in these files, I would be happy to share them with you.

    P.S. I also found a typo in the blue Series sentence labels. "A slug cannot not hop and skip up the steps."

    1. I would love any files you sent to me. I haven't found a cursive font that connects for free. That is the only thing keeping me from offering these files in cursive.

      By the way... I fixed the typo in the Blue Reading Sentence Strips. Thanks for the head's up on that.

  8. I dont have words to say thank to you. I badly need all this stuff. Pl. if you have fonts4teacher downloads or CD pl. share with us. It is very helpful for making worksheets.

    1. I am glad that you can use my things. The fonts4teachers fonts are guarded by copyright laws and therefore I would never feel comfortable sharing them as a download from my blog. You could find them by going to I wish you all the luck with your work.

    2. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful resources. I cannot wait to use them with students at our school. I am new to the Montessori system and am wondering what fonts are used in Primary and Lower Elementary classrooms. Thank you :)

    3. This question is worthy of a post all by itself. There is a lot of discussion and a bit of controversy about what font to teach children in the primary and lower elementary classrooms. Maybe sometime I will take on that challenge and write a post about it back by research. For now... know that all three - print, d'nealian and cursive can and are taught with success in both the primary and lower elementary classrooms. You can choose whichever you wish. You may want to consider that most of our world is in print.

    4. Wonderful, wonderful work. Thank you so much for sharing it. My online struggling readers, the ones the schools leave behind, do wonderfully with your materials. Bless you!

  9. Wow. Thank you!!!!!!! You are so generous to share your work!

  10. Hi Cathie, First of all thank you so very much for all you share. I was wondering if you could spare a minute to answer a question. I am putting together the materials for the pink reading level 1 and I am wondering about the 6th or additional box's contents: what you called "mixed vowels". Is this a box with object that start with the sound of each vowel without paying attention to the length of the word, or is it just mixed 2-3 letter words? I am a bit confused and if you could clarify I would be in peace.
    Thank you

    1. Thank you for your question. The mixed vowels is a box with a 3 letter object that has each middle vowel represented.

      An example would be
      - bag
      - hen
      - pin
      - mop
      - nut

      I hope that this will help out.

  11. Thank you so much for this. I am knee deep in cutting and laminating now. :) You linked where you get manuals and the link seems to be broken. Can you give another link or resource information? Thanks.

  12. Thank you so much! The pictures are so well chosen! It's a pleasure for children and teachers to work with them!

  13. Hello Cathie, good to find you :)
    I was working on my Language folder that I stumbled to your awesome blog.This is indeed what I need.
    Thankyou so much for sharing your wonderful work. Really appreciate it.

  14. this is fantastic- love it! Can't wait to go print and laminate!

  15. Hi!!!
    Your work has been super helpful as a guide to make my own. Since I am being certified in Montessori,I had to make my own resources ut it had been almost impossible without your amazing work. Please let me know if youu want me to share with you my files, they are not as pretty as yours but anyway, they could be helpful and I would be happy to share!

  16. Thank you for sharing this beautiful work! How do you use the secret word lists?

  17. Thank you so much for sharing your resources. I am totally new to Montessori and having been a secondary and tertiary educator, I am so fortunate to have found your website.

  18. Thank you so much for posting all of these amazing resources. Thumbs up : -)

  19. Hi there, I am loving this page of pink materials, but when I click on the link to the Blue Series, I get an error message. Is there still a page that explains the Blue Series?

    1. This is my latest post. It details Blue Reading Beautifully.

  20. AHA! found the blue series etc through a link from trillium. thankyou so much for all this - i am struggling with teaching language and maths, and you have helped by putting everything in a logical order so i can see where to go next with each child xxx Elizabeth

  21. Thanks so much! This site is incredibly helpful and truly in the Montessori spirit of collaboration. I am not in a position to contribute right now, but would happily do so at some future point!