Consonant and Vowel Sounds
The Montessori reading series is mostly focused on the phonetic aspect of language. The child will spend time learning the initial sounds. Next the focus is on identifying middle sounds of words (emphasizing short vowel sounds), and the ending sounds of words. He does a lot of matching and sorting activities. Objects and pictures are matched by their sounds.
Once the child has mastered the twenty-six basic sounds of the alphabet, the directress will then start blending sounds with the child. She may do this with sandpaper letters or the movable alphabet, and it is done quite literally. The directress will place the two letters at opposite sides of the workspace, then slowly say their sounds. As she continues to repeat the sounds, she will move them closer together and say the sounds faster, until visually the sounds are next to each other and orally they are blended. A third and final sound will then be added. Many times word families are introduced.
The child also can practice blending sounds with the movable alphabet. He will try to make up some of his own words, sounding out words that he knows.
The pink series focuses on words with three individual sounds. Most commonly they are consonant-vowel-consonant words, such as cat, rug, mat, etc. The child practices reading these words by labeling objects or pictures with cards. He practices spelling all of them with the movable alphabet. He also begins to learn sight words and starts work in appropriate phonetic readers.
In the blue series, short vowels are continued, but there are often more than three individual phonemes in the word. The child has to sound out consonant blends, which are when the two consonants keep their individual sounds. Initial consonant blends include bl, br, bl, cr, dr, fl, fr, gl, gr, pl, pr, sc, scr, sk, sp, spr, st, str, tr. Final consonant blends include ct, ft, lt, mt, nt, pt, st, lm, ln, lp, mp. Consonant digraphs are also introduced. These include ch, ph, sh, th, wh, kn. Words may be as short as raft and whip, or as long as infant and pumpkin.
Activities in this series again include object and picture labeling and movable alphabet practice. He can also use materials for sentences instead of words. Appropriate readers are slightly more advanced than those for the pink series.
In the green series, the rest of the phonetic sounds are introduced. Long vowels are introduce with the “Silent E” for example. Vowels change their sound as r-controlled vowels: ar, er , ir, or, ur. Digraphs and diphthongs are also introduced as more phonograms (vowel/vowel and vowel/consonant combinations that make a unique sound when together).
Digraphs are two vowels that next to each other make on individual sound, such as ai and ea. Diphthongs are a pair of vowels that make two vowel sounds within the same syllable, such as oi, ou, oy. Again the child practices sorting, labeling, reading word lists, spelling with the movable alphabet, and reading more advanced books. As all of these phonograms are introduced, the potential length of the word is indefinite.
The Pink, Blue, and Green series facilitate the flow of the Montessori method in phonetic learning and in conjunction with foundation activities (like the sandpaper letters) are the basis of learning the structure of language.
Note: As much as Montessori is a method, it is also a philosophy. We suggest you consider familiarizing yourself with this by reading Montessori’s books. When it is understood how the lessons relate to each other in this context one can achieve better outcomes