Wednesday, October 19, 2011

School Day and Reading Folders (Dwyer Part 6, Reading Folders)

Plucking kernels off of indian corn was reintroduced today. The boys look a lot bigger than they did last time we did this back in 2009. This is a favorite work and you'll see it in the background of nearly all the pictures today.

Kal-El wants us to try popping these kernels on the stove and see if we can make popcorn. I'll let you know if it works.

Multiplication with the golden beads. Kal-El complained at one point that Me Too was having so much fun that it was "extracting" him from his math.

One of the many projects I was busy with last week was making reading folders (Dwyer, or Gettman p. 153). "The folders help the child learn the various spellings commonly found in English for the phonograms already learned, so as to enlarge the child's reading and writing vocabulary."

Here is one of my 13 reading folders. I made them all in one day over the course of a couple of hours. If I hadn't been barreling through at an alarming rate with all the materials on hand I would have done them a little differently. I made a conscious decision to put perfectionism aside and move forward.

What would I do differently? Gettman describes these as "In a box, thirteen red Reading Folders in clear plastic envelopes." When I was staring at the selections at the office supply store I remembered the "clear" and the "folder" part. I think what you need are folders. Not clear, and not necessarily "in clear plastic envelopes." Just folders. Preferably with a flap (like a mailing envelope) so that the contents don't spill all over if the folder is held upside down. The clear folders I used show the contents of the folder that make the labeling of the folder confusing. They also don't have to be this big. Mine are way too big. To save space on the shelf these only need to be big enough to hold a jumbo index card.

Added 10/5/15:  I just discovered the booklets that go in the folders are now available for purchase from ETC Montessori. I filled the folders using free materials you can find here. I am so grateful that I didn't have to type these out myself. They could also be handwritten which might be nice. I'm glad I didn't have to do that either. If you are going to make these, I want to give you a heads up that the little books it makes are tiny. Gettman describes them as "tiny" they should be. If I had been making these myself from scratch I would have made them about twice the size, especially since my folders are so unnecessarily big. Believe me, if these books were double their size they would still be tiny and quite a bit smaller than an index card. Also, do plan to be somewhat alert as you put these together. You want to make sure that everything you use works for your own regional pronunciation. I had to eliminate quite a few items because they didn't match the way we say them. Dwyer has a 14th folder as compared to Gettman (for "a" pronounced as "ar"... seems looney in my neck of the woods). Many will not need that folder.

Another thing I would change if I did it again would be to change the font used in the free file I mentioned so that it has a letter "a" more like the one used in a Montessori font (like on a sandpaper letter), not like the letter "a" in the font I am using right now.

Anyway, the outside of the folder is "clearly" labeled with a sound the child knows. Inside are cards with alternate spellings of that folder's sound in large red letters on the front. On the other side, in small blue letters, is the sound as it is spelled on the folder's cover.

Also in the folder are tiny books. Each one has on its cover one of the spellings of the sound. Inside are examples of simple words which use that sound. The word is in printed in black and the sound is printed in red.

This was Kal-El's second reading folder thus far. He has also been introduced to the f/ph folder. The child is introduced to one folder at a time and explores its contents. Eventually you can mix two or more folders and have the child sort the contents back into the correct folder, etc.,

I have been introducing the folders (I made the f/ph folder weeks ago and waited until last week to make the rest) as they correspond to The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
which I use to make illustrated readers. I spent some time last week tracking the various sounds in the reading folder as they appear in the OPG and determining when he will be ready for each folder. I have a little chart showing the order the folders will be introduced and which lessons in the OPG they correspond to if anyone needs that info.
Kal-El is working on things such as to/two/too, "ck" changed to "ke", and soft vs. hard "c" in his readers right now.

Me Too wanted to work on "s" just like his big brother. I had predicted this and had put together a sound bin for him.

Me Too and I re-explored one of the drawers in the geometric cabinet and had a three-period lesson on the names of the figures (trapezoid, trapezium, parallelogram, rhombus). Afterward, he worked on some Halloween puzzles.

The boys also spent a lot of time working with this cauldron today. This was another old favorite from back in 2009. (Our house was on the market in 2010 so this kooky stuff didn't see the light of day.)

The cauldron is filled with sugar and plastic flies. The boys use a small sieve to find the flys and put them in a head-of-Frankenstein container.

I changed up some of the little things that I could in the classroom this week to a fall/halloween theme. I don't particularly like to do "themes" very much. But some very simple changes here and there help keep things fresh for the boys and really ramps up their excitement. They literally ran in there this morning.


  1. Glad you found my uploads useful! Yes those booklets are tiny! I did read "tiny" and since there are so many to make, to save on paper i did make it tiny!

  2. Thank you for the detailed post. We found popcorn on the cob at farmer's market last year to use for plucking. I will keep in mind your suggestions when I to make my reading folders.

  3. Regarding the tiny books, do you order the letters alphabetically or randomly? and/or do you order the words in the book by order in which the sound appears in the word (beginning, middle, end)? I know this sounds like a small detail, but in Montessori, even small details have a purpose. I dont know if Dwyer explains this in her booklet. I ordered it but havent received it yet. Thank you!