Sunday, 27 April 2014

In The Classrooms With...Our Four Year Olds ~ Part 2

Here is Part 2 of In The Classrooms With...Our Four Year Olds. These photographs were taken during the months of January to April.  Please note that the children in these photographs are in their second year of the three year Montessori casa (preschool) program.  These children will all turn five in this calendar year and are of Junior Kindergarten age.

Montessori Pink, Blue and Green Reading Scheme

As discussed in Part 1 of this blog post, reading in the Montessori classroom begins with learning the primary sounds made by the letters of the alphabet.  This is done with the Sandpaper Letters which will be discussed in an upcoming post.  This work begins at 2 1/2+ years of age. Children in their second year of the Montessori casa program are reading and spelling words.

There are three reading schemes - pink, blue and green.

Pink, Blue and Green Object Boxes

The pink scheme consists of two and three letter phonetic words such as fox and sun.  The blue scheme consists of words of four or more letters.  Blends such as fr (frog), bl (blanket) are introduced along with double letters such as tt (button) and bb (rabbit).  The green scheme introduces phonograms, two letters that come together to form a totally different sound such as the 'or' box pictured.   The phonogram 'or' is in red on the reading card.  This highlights the sound we are working with.

The children in the following photographs have been reading independently for some time and take home their own reading books each day.  In the photographs, they are using the Large Moveable Alphabet to spell the names of the objects found within the boxes.  Vowels are in blue and consonants are in pink. This is one of the many ways that the object boxes are used in the classrooms.

Large Moveable Alphabet

A. is working with one of the Pink Object Boxes. Her teacher will place an object on A.'s tray.  They will say the word together.  A. will then take her tray to the Large Moveable Alphabet and find the letters needed to spell the word.  She will show her teacher and place both the object and the letters on her mat. 

A. is spelling words with the Pink Object Box.

A.'s work on the tray.

A. is placing her letters on her mat.

E. is working with a Blue Object Box.  The procedure is the same.

There are many different language activities for all three reading schemes.  In these photographs, K. is independently reading the Blue Reading Books that are part of the blue reading scheme. These are not the reading books that the children take home. These materials are found on our Language shelves.

Blue Reading Scheme Reading Book

When spelling words with the Green Phonogram Boxes, the children use the Small Moveable Alphabet Boxes.  One box has black letters and one box has red letters.  The red letters are used to highlight the phonogram. 

Small Moveable Alphabet Boxes

Five year old A. is working independently with the 'ow' phonogram box.  She chooses the object she would like to begin with and finds the letters needed to spell the word.

A. is spelling snowman.

A. is placing her letters on her mat.

Once A. has spelled all of the words she reads the reading cards and matches them with the objects and letters.

A. is reading and matching the reading cards.

(Ontario Curriculum Note: When reading the Ontario Language Curriculum document, I found the expectations for spelling and reading to be somewhat vague.  The document does state that by the end of Grade 1 children are expected to use phonics as an aid to learning new words.)

Telling Time With the Clock

The Montessori clock material consists of a wooden clock face and loose numerals in a box.  

The Clock Face

Loose Numerals

The red numerals are numbers 1 to 12.  The blue numerals represent the numbers needed for the 24 hour clock (13 t0 24).

N. has worked with the clock before.  Here she is constructing the clock face by putting the numerals in order. 

Once the numerals are all in place, her teacher asks her to make certain times.  N. is currently working on 'o'clock'.

N. has formed 3 o'clock.

Once the child has done a lot of work with the clock, the clock game can be played.

The clock game consists of a box with clock faces - o'clock, half past, quarter past, quarter to - and labels.  (Please note that a child must be familiar with fractions in order to introduce half past, quarter past and quarter to.  Our five year olds have worked with fractions and are learning to tell more complex time.)

The Clock Game Material

S. is working with the o'clock cards.  The cards were mixed and he has placed them in order on his mat. 

On another day, S. worked with the clock and a clock sheet.

S. is working with the clock and a clock sheet.

(Ontario Curriculum Note:  The Mathematics curriculum states that by the end of Grade 1 children are expected to read analog clocks, and tell and write time to the hour and half-hour.  By the end of Grade 2 children are expected to read digital and analog clocks as well as tell and write time to the quarter hour.)


Learning to write begins very early in the Montessori classroom with the preparation of the hand.  A variety of materials and activities in all areas of the classroom - Sensorial, Practical Life, Mathematics, Culture and Language - indirectly and directly prepare the child's hand for writing.  The Sandpaper Letters play a major role in both preparing the child for reading and writing.  They will be discussed in a future post.

Along the path to writing, the children begin with the Sandpaper Letters.  They then move to practicing their letters on the unlined chalkboard, the lined chalkboard and pink-lined paper.  At this point in the Montessori curriculum, all of our four year olds are writing letters and words.  In some cases they are also writing small sentences and stories.

Here are photographs of E. printing in her printing book.

E. is printing words in her printing book.

E. is displaying wonderful powers of concentration.

A page from E.'s printing book.

(Ontario Curriculum Note:  By the end of Grade 1 children are expected to print capitals and lowercase letters as well as leave spaces between words.)

The Hundred Board

The Hundred Board consists of a board divided into one hundred squares and a box with wooden tiles numbered one to one hundred.  This material challenges the child to order individual numbers to one hundred.

L. and N. are working with the Hundred Board.  Both boys can count and write numbers to one hundred.  They are also working with the Golden Bead Material to form and read complex numbers up to 9,999.

There are a few ways that this material can be worked with. In the following  photographs the boys have taken all of the tiles out of the box and ordered them into piles.  The numbers 1 to 10 are in one pile, numbers 11 to 20 are in another pile etc.  They then take one pile at a time and organize the numbers to one hundred. 

L. and N. are working with the tiles for numbers in the forties.

N. is placing a tile in the forties row.

Another way to work with this material is to leave all of the tiles in the box and randomly choose one.  This can also be done by placing the tiles in a bag and randomly choosing one. N. particularly enjoys this way as it is like a surprise.  Once a tile is chosen, N. places it in the correct spot on the board.

(Ontario Curriculum Note:  By the end of Grade 1 children are expected to read and print numerals from zero to one hundred.)

In The Classrooms With...Our Three Year Olds coming soon.