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Montessori Reading



1. Reading-The Montessori Way

The sensorial lessons prepare your child for writing and reading. The concepts of comparing and contrasting shapes, colors and ideas have been introduced and understood. Also, gradation of concepts and colors have been practiced. The natural or pink tower teaches comparisons of size and shape, and gradation of size. The colored spools teach the colors and concepts of grading from lightest to darkest. Then the words for these concepts are taught using the 3 period lesson. Another helpful lesson are the basic shapes- square, triangle, circle, and rectangle. Tracing and drawing these shapes helps with writing and discriminating different shapes in letters. The sandpaper or regular alphabet should be mastered as well, using all the short vowel sounds and the hard consonant sounds. Spelling using the moveable alphabet usually follows. Spelling words using phonetic objects (cat, mat, pig, etc.) and then spelling words using phonetic pictures. Even though a child can spell a word, in the beginning many children can't read the word they have spelled. Another exercise is to spell rhyming words, such as pig, wig, jig, dig or hat, cat,mat,sat, etc.

And now, we are ready for writing and reading-child willing!

Montessori included in reading the skills of writing, grammar, spelling and comprehension. Some children,who make sentences with the moveable alphabet will want to write out their sentences with paper and pencil. At this juncture, words such as "the" are introduced using the 3 period lesson. It's a given that some words in English will have to be memorized for reading and spelling. I usually have small blue books for writing down the sentences. I also provide art materials if the children want to draw pictures to illustrate their book. Also, have all the punctuation available for the moveable alphabet.

Usually, the booklets are popular. Children who want to just write words and illustrate can use the booklets too.

  • Reading with the moveable alphabet.

Some children by this point know how to read and know all the sounds of the alphabet. Other children will need a review of all 26 letter and sounds of the alphabet.

At this juncture you can introduce cards, labels, and the moveable alphabet. You'll need 26 letters and 3 different pictures (2 of each item) glued on a card. Write the name of each animal on a label. For example, use 2 pictures of a pig, 2 pictures of a cat and 2 pictures of an elk

You can do this activity on a mat or a table- I use only one copy of the 26 letters of the alphabet for the first exercises. Take out the letters, p-i-g-c-a-t-e-l-k and put them to the side.

Let your child match the pictures spacing them so that there is room underneath each picture for a label and the letters from the moveable alphabet. Have your child put the proper labels under each picture. Then on the second identical picture, have your child take out the letters from the p-i-g-c-a-t-e-l-k letter pile and spell out the word on each unlabeled picture.

If this is difficult, you can label the first cards (like a nomenclature card) and let your child spell with the letters the word on the unlabeled card.

Make labels for familiar objects in the room, such as dog, mat, hat, etc. Let your child match the labels to the objects. The objects in the beginning will be one pile and the labels in another.

Later on you can introduce words that end with ck, (duck, rock, etc.) then ll (doll, ball, etc.)

2. Labeling Exercise For Non Phonetic and Phonetic Words

Dr. Montessori used toys with labels for first reading exercises.

In "The Montessori Method" she writes,

"We then put away the toys and set ourselves to make hundreds of written labels-names of children, of objects, of cities, of colours and of qualities made known through exercises of the senses. We placed them in more boxes and let the children search as they pleased among them. I expected that at least they would hunt indiscriminately and without any order in one box and in another, but no, every child finished emptying the box which he had under his hand, and only after that did he go on to another, truly insatiable for reading."

Here is an example of a farm labeling activity

Later on she explains, "So we had nothing more to do but present them with a book; in fact they read the words in it."

  • How long does it take a child to read during this sensitive time?

According to Montessori 15 days!

"Experience tells us that, counting from the moment at which the child can write, the passage from this lower form of written language to the higher one of reading is an average about fifteen days."

But… "Accuracy in reading, however almost always comes later than perfection in writing. In most cases the child writes very well and reads just fairly well.

She does say that children learn to read at different ages. Most Montessori children can read by the end of 2nd grade.

Since the English language has 26 symbols and about 44 sounds, Montessori only introduces 20 isolated sounds. From her research she found that the 4 to 5 year old group could remember 20 different sounds. Montessori, again, says to introduce labels to objects and items in the environment, but only those that are phonetic in the beginning.

Once interest and success is established, you go onto groups of words according to the spelling rules. She says in an insightful quote, "In a word, one must proceed in the first instance with the aim of rousing keen interest in reading, and afterwards the way will be prepared for the long journey necessary to overcome the various difficulties of spelling. Then arises the necessity for research in grouping material objects and words corresponding to objects, making up a series of successive exercises. This leads the children to pure interest in reading words, as it is met with in phonetic languages.

In England, in adopting this procedure for the English language, it was found necessary to make small chests, which, in different drawers, contain groups of words chosen according to some spelling difficulties [phonogram] and groups of objects referring to them (as in the divisions for classification). The child can, after having taken a drawer from the chest, take out the objects himself, apply the label to each one, and having finished the work, replace it in the chest. He can then take another drawer, and so on. In this way he studies some of the difficulties relative to spelling and pronunciation." Discovery of the Child, M. Montessori

They actually had beautiful small, wooden chests with drawers for this in England. However, you can use shoe boxes for this activity or the small plastic chests with drawers.

  • Here are some beginning words and objects from the word list of phonetic words and phonograms-
  • Words ending in ll-doll, bill, pill (fake one, like a candy), gull-

(Put both the objects and labels in the same box.)

Here are some more ideas for labels and objects for the box exercise.

  • Words ending with ss kiss(candy type) , cross, lass, moss,
  • Words ending with ff-muff, puff
  • Words ending with ing- king, wing, ring, sling
  • Challenge words-button, cotton, mutton

You can use any phonogram category for the drawer or box exercises. Put one category such as, doll, bill, pill in a box with the appropriate written label together in one box, and so on with the other boxes.

As your child progresses, you can combine different word groups. Here is an example.

Pink, Blue and Green Reading Lessons

How to Make Pink Reading Scheme 

Montessori Pink Reading Reading Scheme 

Beginning Sounds  


Check more at-

Pink Reading Scheme

Sight Reading vs Phonetics

Montessori Exercises

Plastic Eggs Reading Game

Montessori Reading Cards and Labels-Roman

3 Part Cards-Nomenclature

Parts of the Brain Nomenclature Cards

Animal Nomenclature Cards

Montessori Books

Montessori Sentence Cards

Montessori Card Page Exercise

Montessori Command Cards

Montessori Elementary Reading Lessons


Ms. Pauline

posted at 9:56 p.m. on August 31, 2009

I have created short story book series to fit with the Pink, Blue, and Green series. I am a certified Montessori teacher! check them out and leave me some feedback! they are great for completing your Montessori Reading series! :D Four books for $12 ($3 a book) with sight words included and color pictures!


posted at 3:11 a.m. on November 6, 2009

how would i see the book to make a purchased??


posted at 4:08 a.m. on July 29, 2011

i would like to buy a set of blue series .


posted at 3:28 a.m. on November 7, 2011

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. My son transitioned from a Montessori to a private traditional school for first grade. I have been sad everyday that he does not have rich Montessori instruction rather the emphasis is on site words. Now I have more tools to help him.


posted at 10:03 p.m. on February 17, 2012

please send me the pink and blue scheme stories regards, abha


posted at 6:42 a.m. on May 28, 2012

Montessori reading sounds very interesting. I will consider this method for my son.

Michelle Smith

posted at 6:53 a.m. on April 24, 2013

Hi, thank you for a beautiful and informative website. Please can you give advice? My son has finished his alphabet sounds and can sound phonetic words, but we are already on 7 months and he still can read without sounding. When will the sounding out words move onto reading? He is turning 6 in July. Thank you kindly Michelle Smith------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Hi Michelle, Thank you so much! I would find something he is interested in reading. Sometimes I would make a tiny book with a short story if I couldn't find something enticing to read. Make 3 part cards for new words for you son to do. Lastly, just let your son read, even though he may be a sight reader. (My son was a sight reader even though he knew the sounds of the alphabet.) You and your son are doing a great job! MM

Helen Menzies

posted at 4:41 a.m. on November 9, 2014

Could you let me know where I can purchase the pink, blue and green reading books for the Montessori Reading Scheme? Kind Regards Helen Menzies -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Go to the Helpful Garden at

Rakhi Rajish

posted at 9:55 p.m. on January 11, 2015

please send me the pink and blue scheme sentence and stories regards, abha------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I have this lesson at I use this for both pink and blue. The Helpful Garden is a good resource too!

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Last Updated: February 6, 2015
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