Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cultural Exchange - USA: Florida

We received this package from a little boy and his family from Florida.

A nice picture of the little boy with the American flag, a couple of USA flags, a quarter and a nice letter explaining the family's lifestyle in Florida.

Candies, popcorn, pencils, yo-yos and a nice baseball!

To see more of the Cultural Exchange Packages that were exchanged visit here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Some Halloween/Pom Pom Math

This week I left a bowl of orange and black colored pom-poms representing halloween on D's math shelf.  We used it in multiple ways and had fun while doing these Math activities.

We did some sequencing/patterning.  I created a pattern and D had to identify and continue it.  In the examples shown below the first one is an ABAB pattern and the second one is ABBABB.

We had an activity where D randomly picked a bunch of pom-poms from the bowl and tried to guess whether she had "odd" or "even" number of pom-poms.  Then we verified her guess by grouping the pom-poms in pairs and seeing if there was an odd one left.  This was so much fun and we also ended up counting by 2s to figure out the total pom-poms.

We are working on number facts up to 10 and one of the ways was to partition 10 pom-poms into 2 groups in as many ways as we can.  For example, 10 can be 9 and 1, 8 and 2, 7 and 3, etc.

As you can see in the pictures above, 10 is represented using two colors, 5 orange and 5 black.  This is a RightStart Math way, where numbers are identified using 5 + x.  In the second picture above, 10 is partitioned as 4 and 6.

We then turned this into a game, where I would make D close her eyes and I would take out a few pom-poms out of the 10 and hide those.  D had to tell the hidden number by looking at the number of pom-poms left.   She got this and mastered her 10's facts in no time.  In the example below, she had to guess that I hid two blacks by seeing 8 (5 oranges and 3 blacks) still being left.

We did these activities multiple times this week while having plenty of fun!

Montessori Monday

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Happy Diwali!

Today is a very important day for us, the festival of Diwali! It is a festival of lights for celebrating the victory of good over evil. This day we wear new clothes, eat festive food and burst a lot of crackers (fireworks). We decorate the house with fresh flowers and beautiful lamps. We started the celebration last evening and the kids had a blast! It was good to teach the kids about this Indian festival and the story behind it.

Picture from

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween/Pumpkin activities on our shelves

Last week I had posted about the trays we added for M (18 mo old) in the school room.  D(4) had a lot of fun with M's trays! I made a few trays for D using the halloween and pumpkin themes.  Here are some pictures of what we have.

I added this pouring bugs(bugs from dollar tree) tray.  I found these cute small glass jugs at the dollar store too!

We did this skeleton puzzle last year too.  I added this to the shelf and D loved it and started working with right away.  Along with assembling the skeleton we also discussed the names of the bones.  This also tied in well with our Vertebrate work.

I made some black and orange play-doh made for some halloween fun!  Walmart had some halloween cookie cutters that I added to our ever growing collection of play-doh tools!

We are practicing counting by 5's.  We don't own bead chains, need to get those! We've worked on our hundred board, stamping using our dot marker.  I added this for additional practice.  I used a marker to write the numbers on the pumpkin picks and used a styrofoam block to stick it in.  I placed little dots to help her know where to insert the picks.

This next tray is NOT halloween themed, but I thought I would post about it anyway since it was on our shelves!  We are working on addition facts up to 10.  So I set some of our domino pieces (sum up to 10 only) and a bunch of part-whole circles.  D was free to use our Right Start Abacus if needed.  She started off using it, but eventually got the facts and never needed it.

We also made a lot of pumpkin/halloween crafts, but that is for another post!

Montessori Monday

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cultural Exchange - Mexico

Here are the contents of a wonderful package that we received from Mexico.

First is a lovely letter with information of the kids in the family and the mexican traditions.  It also included a package list and explanation on the contents of the package.  They also sent us a CD with some lovely Spanish songs! Great idea! You can also see a Mexican Corn recipe pictured.

A nice color map of Mexico showing the various states.

A rosary and some pictures of Mary.  In the letter is an explanation of how important this is to Mexicans.

Some pictures of Calaveras (halloween equivalent for Mexicans) and a Skull coloring page.

A toy Maraca, the Mexican flag and a wooden butterfly to represent the Monarch migration to Mexico.  Also included was a Poinsettia and an interesting legend about that from Mexico!

Candies, suckers, gum and powder to make a drink.  Included were some common Spanish phrases (another wonderful idea!).  You can also see a Mexican coin included.

There was so much in this package that I learnt "new" about Mexico!

To see more of the Cultural Exchange Packages that were exchanged visit here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Language Preparation - Sound Games

I wanted to elaborate a bit on the "Sound Games" portion that was a part of the Step 1: Preparation of my Dwyer Approach Post.  As mentioned in that post, the preparation activities are the most important.  Whether you follow the Dwyer Approach or not, still these activities will tremendously improve language skills in your little ones.

Sound Games are "I Spy" games played using only the Sounds of the alphabets, in the Dwyer approach using all the 40 key sounds for English (25 single and 15 double).  For example, you say - "I spy with my little eye something beginning with /b/ (sound not name)" and the item could be a "box" or a "button" or a "ball".  In the case of double letter sounds - "I spy with my little eye something beginning with /sh/ (sound not name)" and the item could be a "ship" or a "shirt" or a "shoe".

Muriel Dwyer and David Gettman talk about six stages to this game.  The first three stages, gradually help the child isolate the beginning sound in any word.  The fourth stage works on the beginning, middle and ending sounds in simple three and four letter words.  The fifth stage is where the child can segment words of any length into their individual sounds.  The last stage is where the child should be able to give you words that have all the 40 key sounds in any position in a word.  As mentioned in this post, if you are working with the Dwyer scheme the child does these games without any reference to the written symbols for these sounds.

Stage 1: One object that is extremely obvious.  For example "I spy with my little eye something that begins with '/ch/' on which you are sitting" if the child is sitting on a chair.  The object should be extremely obvious that the child cannot help but guess it correctly.  This stage might take a while until the child understands what you are asking.

Stage 2: Slightly harder than Stage 1 with a choice of two objects.  For example, have a "ball" and "ship" on a tray and say "I spy with my little eye something on the tray that begins with '/b/'".

** Edited to add: In the example above, "ship" can also be referred to as "boat", so can be picked for '/b/' and can be confusing, so take care to use objects that can be explicitly identified using only one beginning sound.  In our home we did not have this issue with "ship" as we always referred to that as "ship".  The idea here is to focus on the beginning sound and see if the child can differentiate between two sounds and identify the right object.  So in your case please take care and use objects that do not have this kind of ambiguity.**

Stage 3: Make the choice even harder until the child can find the object you want anywhere in the room.

Stage 4: This is the step where you ask the child - "I spy with my little eye something that begins with '/sh/' and ends with '/p/'", if the object were a ship.  Once the child can identify the object you say "'Ship', '/sh/', '/i/', '/p/'", slowly and ask "So what was the sound in the middle?".  You do this and work with easy three and four letter words where the child can isolate the middle sound easily.

Stage 5: This the stage where the child works on words any length to break it down into individual sounds.  As mentioned in this post, we had to do something additional in some cases of segmenting.  Here is what I had written - "While we were doing the sound games with D, she had difficulty isolating the sounds when there were initial blends like "fl", "br", etc.  So she would segment "flip" into "fl", "i" and "p".  What helped us was to use tokens for segmenting.  So for "flip", I would give her 4 tokens and make her move one token to each individual sound that she segments.  Another way we tried was to simply draw 4 boxes on paper and give her an object like a frog and make it jump one box for every sound she says.  For children that learn best using physical activities the same could be done on the floor and have the child jump into a box for every sound.  These and many more ideas are available online through a search on Google!"

Stage 6: Now we ask the child to think of as many words as he/she can that begin with or contain any of the 40 sounds and continue working until the child can easily do this for all 40 sounds.

When to begin?
You can begin the sound games as soon as the child is able to talk well and can respond easily to asked questions, usually by 2 or 2.5 years old.  Each child is different and only you would able to figure out what is best for your child.  If your child is older and you haven't covered all these steps before, you can take a break and play these games as this will strengthen their reading and spelling skills tremendously.  You can play all these stages for as long as you want till your child can comfortably segment and identify all the 40 key sounds in any kind of word.

Montessori Monday

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our unit on Vertebrates and Invertebrates

After the trays on Living, non-living I put together this unit on Vertebrates and Invertebrates. These are straight out of Karen's Albums. 

First you introduce to the child the concept of Vertebrates. For us we read these books on Vertebrates and Invertebrates and D was hooked. (Sorry, my Amazon affiliates widget is not working, so you will have to bear with only these pictures for now!)

The first tray is the concrete on Vertebrates. I used some animal replicas to represent all five groups.

Next is the abstract representation for Vertebrates.  I made these cards using google images.  I made these as three part cards, but for now I just put in the control cards for this tray. As you can see I included a picture of D for fun as "human".  D got such a kick out of this!

Next are the concrete and abstract for Invertebrates.

Once she is done working with these trays, I would mix up the contents and let her sort the vertebrates and invertebrates into their respective groups.  Also I would introduce the three part cards and let her work on these.  For now, this is how it is laid out in our shelf.

Montessori Monday

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Toddler Montessori Trays

I jazzed up M's shelves with a few new trays and changed things up a bit with some of her favorite ones. Here are some pictures:

Her favorite, dropping large buttons into the tin through the slot.

Dropping popsicle sticks into the moon jar.

Cylinder Block 1.

Open and Close activity.  I added a few new containers and removed a couple.

I put together this tray with some styrofoam balls and a paint palette from the dollar store.  I added in a measuring spoon for an added challenge to D.

Clothespins on the edge of the container.

Inserting these pumpkin picks (dollar store find!) into a cheese shaker.

As expected M (almost 18 months) loved the new trays and was engaged for a long time!  D was interested too and chose some of these for herself!

Montessori Monday

Friday, October 14, 2011

We are still here!

We are still here! We just recovered from a bout of change of weather illness!  We've been taking it slow around our homeschool here.  I would be posting about our new trays next week.  For now, D is working through the Reading Folders and working on Golden Beads addition.  We've been doing some Science and Geography too, but I would be putting out new trays next week.  We are continuing to make tens using the Right Start Math curriculum and are currently done with Step 16 in our All about spelling program.  We rowed Madeline and Lentil and are currently on "A Pair of Red Clogs" on our FIAR books.  M has been having a good time with her current trays, I should put out new work for her by next week.  Hope everyone has been having a better start to their school year than us!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cultural Exchange - Canada: Toronto

Both  D and M have been sick with cold this week so we have not done much in terms of schooling other than reading tons of books.  Since there are no updates, I thought I would post about the items we received as part of the cultural exchange from a sweet family in Canada.

They sent us a letter describing what the little girl does daily, about her schooling and of course good stuff about Canada.  It also included a Toronto postcard and a few pictures of the little girl.  We've been to Toronto quite a few times and D was excited about this package!

In the package were some Canada pencils, flag stickers, stamps and Canadian coins.

Some wrist bracelets, balloons, candy, Canada lite flashlight and the Canadian flag.

Sorry for the horrible background in these pictures, I could not manage to get these things out into a better background as my toddler was trying to get into everything!

To see more of the Cultural Exchange Packages that were exchanged visit here.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blending Montessori and Non Montessori Approaches

I started writing a reply to one of the comments I received on the Dwyer Post and figured that I would rather write a post about it. The question was how I was blending the Montessori Dwyer Approach to the All About Spelling program that we are doing and how we are accomplishing all this with a curious 18 month old toddler in the same house!

The answer is that we are not really blending the approaches. The days that we really get into our school room during my toddler's nap time is when I do presentations as there is no way I can do presentations with constant interruptions from M. I usually plan any new presentations over the weekend and present it early in the week either on Monday or Tuesday during M's nap. Then D is free to choose the work anytime we are in the school room. The beauty of the Dwyer approach is that other than the "Reading Folders" portion there is not much preparation in terms of materials, so it was/is a perfect fit for us.

I am NOT using the All About Spelling program for phonic instruction, but rather for spelling and handwriting work. As of now, D is breezing through Level 1 of the program as this is covers all CVC words, initial blends, ending blends and use of c vs k, most of which we have extensively covered in the Sound Games and Moveable Alphabet works. We are taking it very slow and focussing on the dictation recommended in the program with D actually writing out 4-5 words that I dictate to her. We do this twice or thrice a week for 10 mins at a time. At this time we are just focussing on D listening to the word, segmenting it in her head and trying to figure out the correct symbols and translating that to actual writing. As to why I am doing this program, this is for myself. The days that we never get to the school room, we still spend 10 mins on this and this gives ME the satisfaction that I am doing something with D instead of wasting the whole day doing nothing. This is not much work for me at all, as each lesson is scripted and I just follow that.

While we are at this, I would also like to describe the Right Start Math program and how we are doing that. This program is very hands on just like the Montessori math work. The one difference is how there is emphasis as seeing numbers under 10 as 5 + x. I don't follow the scripted lessons to the dot from the manual and instead try focus on one skill try to present it the montessori way. For example, addition and subtraction under 10 is taught by means of the whole-part circle combination initially using the abacus. So after making sure D understood the concept via a presentation, I left a couple of problems and the abacus on the math shelf free for her to choose. We are still continuing with the Montessori Golden beads, I am just trying to cover any gaps (concepts like the whole-part circle combinations) through the program.

It is a lot of work and there are tons of great ideas out there. I wish we could do much much more, but I am happy that I am providing a happy and nurturing and inspiring environment for the kids to grow and learn in. We are just doing what is working for us now. Sure there are days when we don't do anything at all and there are days when we speed faster than a missile and learn so much more. If I had only one child and the time to let her learn everything by herself then I would only do Montessori based home-schooling. Since the reality is much different, I have these additional programs that we do just to make sure we are covering everything and lets face it, it is a lot less preparation on my part. I still try and follow the Montessori principles by following what D is interested in and letting her take the lead and tweak anything and everything into a Montessori learning experience!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Dwyer Approach for English Language Exploration

I've been meaning to write a post on this topic of Reading and Writing for a while now. I wanted to outline and document the sequence of steps needed for this for two reasons: one that it is going to help organize my thoughts in a single place, so it will be helpful for my kids during their learning process and also for other home schoolers to see and get ideas from what we are doing. As I've mentioned in a few previous posts, we started of with the PBG scheme but then later switched to the Dwyer plan. The Dwyer approach is working out well for us. For homeschooling with just one or two kids the Dwyer approach seems less cumbersome. Also, personally for me this plan gives a complete picture of the whole sequence in comparatively less number of steps and is very thorough.


Here are the four resources that served as a bible for us:

  1. I owe all the credit to "My Boys Teacher" from for introducing me to this approach.  Please checkout her posts, thoughts and comparison of the Dwyer scheme and the PBG schemes.
  2. BASIC Montessori by David Gettman
  3. Language sequence from infomontessori
  4. A Key to Writing and Reading in English from NAMTA
Basic Montessori: Learning Activities For Under-Fives

Before I start on the steps to this approach some of the key points that all the resources that I have read so far stressed and one should remember are:

  1. Kids are not empty vessels that we dump information into (basic Montessori principle).  As far a language goes, the children start talking by themselves before school age.  All we are doing by following a Montessori approach is to provide some organization, guidance and key symbols using which the child can freely immerse themselves into reading and writing.
  2. The basic idea that we one let the child deal with one difficulty at a time.  Small steps as preparation leading into a larger goal.
  3. Setting up the child for success at every stage and provide just enough challenge so that the child can discover the joys of reading and writing by their own exploration.

Here is my summary of the various steps involved in the process.  For a deeper understanding and the "why's" please refer to the resources mentioned above.

Step 1: Preliminary Preparation

This step is extremely important and the duration for this step varies with every child.  It is highly important that the preliminary preparation be as thorough as possible as any gaps in this step could lead to the entire scheme being compromised.

  • As the child is developing his speech skills and starts showing interest in the surrounding we can help the child expand vocabulary by pointing out the correct names of things around him.
  • The one thing that most parents do, read plenty of books, make it a daily special bonding time.
  • Sing simple nursery rhymes, songs, simple poetry, finger plays, etc.
  • Tell a lot of stories sometimes with props, sometimes without, letting the child use his imagination.
  • Once the child is able to talk well, encourage the child's story telling skills.
  • Classified Picture Exercises (please refer to Gettman for the exact details): On a very high level this is a Montessori Activity where you introduce pictures of things the child encounters and help him classify those under right groupings, a very fundamental language capability that is needed for the future.  For example, pictures of basic kitchen appliances grouped under a Kitchen category, pictures of various items in a park, etc.
  • Sound Games or I Spy Games using all the 40 key sounds (25 single letter sounds as well as the double letter sounds).  The basic aim of this step is to help the child segment the words into sounds and identify the beginning, ending and all the middle sounds.  There are different levels in the sound games and very good explanation is part of the Language Section in Gettman. 
**It is very important to note that in this sequence we still haven't introduced the symbolic representation of the 40 key sounds.  Dwyer stresses on the importance of starting the introduction only when the child is well versed with all stages of the sound game.**

(Unfortunately, since we were doing the PBG scheme with D early on, she already knew the symbols associated with the 26 single phonograms as we were working through the "Sound Game" levels. ) 

While we were doing the sound games with D, she had difficulty isolating the sounds when there were initial blends like "fl", "br", etc.  So she would segment "flip" into "fl", "i" and "p".  What helped us was to use tokens for segmenting.  So for "flip", I would give her 4 tokens and make her move one token to each individual sound that she segments.  Another way we tried was to simply draw 4 boxes on paper and give her an object like a frog and make it jump one box for every sound she says.  For children that learn best using physical activities the same could be done on the floor and have the child jump into a box for every sound.  These and many more ideas are available online through a search on Google!

Step 2: Sandpaper Letters

The classic Montessori Language tool, the sandpaper letters, both single and double letter ones are introduced few at a time, with the high contrast ones first.  It is important to note
that at this stage the child already knows all the 40 key sounds via the sound games and we are just introducing the symbolic representation for these.  In our case with D, since she already knew her 26 single phonogram sounds, we worked on the two letter phonograms to fill the gap.

Step 3: Moveable Alphabet

Once the child can identify the symbols for most of the key sounds we introduce the moveable alphabet.  This is a very important tool to the child as he can now express himself freely using the symbols.  We can start with a few simple words, then sentences and eventually encourage the child to use it to create stories.  Three things of importance that Dwyer mentions are:

  1. Not to provide the child with pictures or objects to spell as this would limit his imagination and free expression.
  2. While working with the moveable alphabet at this stage, the objective is for the child to understand how he can segment words into sounds and express himself.  Since the child only knows the 40 key phonetic sounds and NOT all the other alternatives, the spelling of words might always not be right, for example, "plai" instead of "play" or "foan" instead of "phone".  It is very important to NOT correct spellings at this stage.
  3. The Moveable Alphabet can be used as tool in later writing works too by having the child first use it to express what he wants to write, have the directress proof-read and check for spelling and then do the actual writing.  This way they would not form the habit of incorrect spelling.

It is at this stage that writing exercises either using sand tray, chalk board, etc can begin and continue parallel to the reading activities provided enough preparation has been done using the metal insets as well as the sand paper letters.  You might also want to introduce "Capital Letters" at some point around this stage and try to work through it before Step 6, so the child will not have difficulty recognizing and sound those out while reading the readers.

With all of the above preparation there will come a time when the child is ready for reading.  Using the Moveable Alphabet to create writing uses a completely different skill than what is will be used for Reading.  Writing requires Segmenting a word into individual sounds which we would have practiced enough during our Sound Game exercises.  Reading requires blending sounds together to create a word which is a difficult concept for some children.

Different children develop this skill at different stages and we can only observe, wait and then encourage this.  With D, we had an issue with her chopping the sounds, so however fast she says the sounds, she could never form the word.  I researched online and found a way that worked for us.  Basically instead of saying the individual sounds, we sang the individual sounds and blended them together to create the words.  Once we find the child understands the blending concept and is ready to sound out words we move on to the next step.

Step 4: Object Boxes and Activity Words

Now is the time to use all the miniature objects that we've been collecting and sort out objects that can be spelled using a single letter phonetic sounds.  We place 10 to 12 objects in a box and play a game with the child to match hand-written labels to the objects.  Dwyer stresses that it is important for the child to see the adult writing the labels so he can make a connection to written symbols and language.  As you can see below in our Object Box 1, we have not limited to just 3 sound, CVC objects.

milk, nest, crab and can

Once the child is comfortable with reading Object Box 1 labels, we put out Object Box 2 that has objects that can be spelled with two letter phonograms.  Again the adult writes the labels and the child matches it to the objects.  We only use objects that can be spelled correctly using the 40 key sounds - example for "ai" we use "train" and never "tray".  If the child has any difficulty the adult can underline the two letter sound like this - "boat".

boy, goat, jar, shell

In parallel to Object Box1 or before or after, we also start introducing Activity Words.  This is again introduced in two sets, the first set being action that can be easily acted out by the child, like "run", "sit", "stand", "grab", etc.  The second set is slightly more difficult to enact like "chop", "crush", "shout", etc., but either way the object is for the child to see that the adult is using written language for communication and interpreting what is written as an action having fun in the process.

As you can see, so far the only work for the adult is to collect or put together a bunch of miniature objects representing the various sounds.  We've used both miniature objects as well as pictures sometimes as I could not readily find objects representing certain sounds.  D has had no problems with either and has worked through these with ease.

Step 5: Puzzle Words - Set 1

Puzzle words are sight words in the English language that do not obey any phonetic rules.  They are introduced in two sets, the more common words like "I", "me", "you", etc are introduced now.  We introduce these by just simple 3 period lessons.  What I have found useful is to collect any sight words that D would encounter in the little readers or booklets (part of the next step) and make simple paper strips to introduce.  This has been working well for us.

Step 6: Little Booklets

The little booklets are readers that have simple illustrations and use the 40 key sounds and the puzzle words introduced in the previous steps.  I had a tough time finding something with these rules but interesting enough for D to read neither did I have the patience to create booklets on my own.  I came across this post from My Boys Teacher.
The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading

She uses the book "The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading" to create little booklets for her boys and does her own illustration.  This meant I had to manually create these little booklets and illustrate those. Lot of work for a mom with a busy toddler!

Product Details

So we used "The Reading Lesson" book and went through the pages that had illustrations and simple stories.  We could not use all of the pages as that book does not follow the Montessori Sequence and introduces exceptions, silent letters, etc, early on.

While I was wondering what to do next, I came across a comment from "Barbara Furst" on My Boys Teacher's blog and she graciously offered me some of the readers she had created in addition to providing me a lot of valuable advice and some wonderful materials that would have taken me ages to create.  For those of you who don't know who Barbara is, she is an AMS certified Montessori Teacher for 3-6 year olds who is a Consultant and Mentor for Montessori Teachers in the Omaha, Norfolk and Lincoln, NE area.  Here is an article at Jola Montessori based on her experience with the Dwyer Scheme.  She has also offered to make these readers available to readers of my blog, so you can download them here!  Her readers are very nice and with each she also lists all the sight words that the child needs to know and this can be made part of the Puzzle words list in the previous step.

Step 7: Introduce the Names of the Alphabets

Now is the time to introduce the names of the alphabets.  In our case, D already knew the names long back before I even knew what Montessori was, so we moved on to the next step after a brief review!

Step 8: Reading Folders

Reading Folders are the tool used to introduce the variations in spelling for the different phonograms.  For e.g, for the phonogram "ai" the alternate spellings that Dwyer lists are "ay", "a-e", "ei".  This is the only step so far in this method that requires some prep.  So, there are 14 phonograms with alternate spellings, so we make 14 folders.  Each folder has the phonogram being represented on the outside, plus all its variations as cards on the inside.  Each card has marked on the reverse side the sound of the folder to which it belongs as a control of error.  Also, little booklets using all these variations in spelling are created and stored in this folder.

I made these folder's out of construction paper.  You can use small envelopes, boxes or clear plastic bags to hold these.  You can download a printable version of the phonograms, their alternate spellings and the various little booklets here.  (*When using this please modify the phonograms according to regional pronunciation.  What is uploaded is what worked for us.*)  I made these using the NAMTA journal listed above, downloading this would save you the headache of typing all these!

We basically present one reading folder and its little booklets so the child gets the concept.  After this the child can work through at their pace the rest of the 13 folders.

There are different exercises/games to be played with the reading folders.  The first is the sorting game. We can start with two folders and mix up the cards and have the child sound out each card and match it up with the right folder.  The works through these and eventually will be able to sort all 14 folders.  This enables he child to memorize the different variations in spelling for he different phonograms.

Once we observe and find out that the child has had enough practice with the folders, we can play a game to test the child's proficiency in the alternate spellings.  The child uses the moveable alphabet or pen and paper to write down all the alternate spellings for the 14 phonograms.

Step 9: Puzzle Words - Set 2

We present the second set of puzzle words now.  It is almost the same as the first set presentation except that we point out something special in the words we introduce like silent letters, etc.  Remember that we are not trying to introduce all the sight words that ever exist, but a basic foundation to build upon.  As the child encounters more puzzle words through their own exploration in reading we help the child anytime they have difficulty.  There are plenty of examples in the Dwyer article.

Step 10: Phonogram Dictionary

To help with the child's frustration when they are into reading books but have not quite mastered Step 8 yet, we make a Phonogram Dictionary so that the child can use that to sound out words.  Luckily for me Barbara Furst sent me an extra copy that she had.  Here is a picture of the booklet as well as the inside of it.

Step 11: Dictation and further language exploration

Dwyer mentions in her booklet that giving Dictation using the words in the little booklets that were created with the reading folders, was a very popular activity among the 6 year olds.  This strengthens their spelling skills.

If you've reached this far, according to Dwyer the child should be reading fairly fluently.  Other than reading whatever books the children can get their hands the following are some language activities to continue:

  • The Definitions connected with the various subjects in the cultural area.
  • The Function Games
  • Word Study
  • Reading Analysis
  • Written Question Game
  • Free Composition
I am not going into details for the above as we are not at that stage yet for D.  We are at Step 8 exploring our reading folders.

There were two reasons why we switched from the PBG scheme to the Dwyer scheme.  One is that I never had this kind of clear path to take with the PBG scheme and the other fact that there are tons of materials to print, cut and laminate even though I actually bought our materials.  With the Dwyer scheme I've found that we are arming the children with the right tools necessary as far as the necessary symbols and rules and once they take off to reading on their own they can apply all these skills.  Hope these posts are useful to you in getting an overall idea of the path to take while guiding children in their language exploration.

Here are the links to the free readers and reading folder printables, again.  I would love it if you can leave a comment line if you found this post and/or printables useful.

As it is with all over the blog world, these pictures/readers/printables are for your personal use only and not for distribution or sale.  If you chose to blog about something you've seen in this blog, please link back to here.  Thank you for your understanding!

Montessori Monday