HOW TO DO IT IN A MONTESSORI SCHOOL
A. Find a public library with a good children’s book section
- Search for books with realistic pictures and stories or information. Do not use Disney or cartoon books.
- Estimate what percentage of books in the children’s section meets Dr. Maria Montessori’s view of “fantasy” versus “reality.”
- Check out a book that you would like to read to children at your Montessori school.
- Evaluate if this is a story book (if it has a plot, such as a problem and then a resolution of the problem), an information book or poetry.
- Select a variety of kinds of books for your children to see and hear during the school year.
- If it is a book of poetry, teach the children a simple four-line poem. Every class of children should hear poetry during their school year.
a) “This is my turn.” You read the line, then put out both hands to the children and say, “Your turn.”
b) Proceed through all four lines three times each day for three days.
c) On the fourth and fifth days, say the poem aloud in its sequence without stopping.
B. Purchase a book that you prefer. (This is a good investment for your future.)
- At a children’s bookstore
II. Guidelines for Reading the Book
A. Read the book aloud several times and become so familiar with the story that you can almost tell it from memory. Ask a friend to critique you.
B. Clip together, with a large paper clip, any pages that you do not want to read to the children.
C. Notice which pages show two pictures at once and remember to cover one picture with a blank piece of paper while you read the opposite page.
D. Practice reading the book aloud.
- Look in the mirror to watch your mouth and expressions
- Read the name of the author and tell the children that this means “the person who wrote the book.”
- Read the name of the artist and tell the children that this means “the person who drew the pictures.”
- Hold the book open to the full extent and turn it from left to right so that all of the children get a chance to see the pictures.
- Feel the top edge of each page, from left to right, to the corner, and then carefully turn each page in a dramatic way.
III. Ways to Vary the Reading of a Book: Note: Always sit in the middle on the long side of the ellipse, not at the end, so that the children can see you, or bring a small group of children to an inside ellipse for reading books.
A Dramatic voices: Use your voice to imitate the voices of adults and or children in the book.
B. Discussion: After you read the book, ask the children, “I wonder what this was about?” Let them summarize and explain without commenting on their accuracy.
C. Open-ended questions:
- Just before the book ends, say “ I wonder what will happen next?” or “I wonder how this book will end?” This allows the children to think and guess the ending.
- After you read the title of the book to the children, say “I wonder what this book is about?” Let them guess and think about the possibilities.
- Just before the book ends, say “How would you like for this book to turn out (end)?”
- Ask the children, “What was your favorite part of this book?” or “What was your favorite picture?” You can ask each child to tell you, if s/he would like to, as their name is called to leave circle.
- Only use one of these methods per book and try many different ways to discuss the book.
- Sometimes do not discuss the book and see how the children like to just “think” about the book.
D. Continued story:
- Choose a book that is too long to read in one sitting (ten minutes) and stop in a logical place, perhaps half-way through or at a break in the story line.
- The next day, hold up the same book and say, “I wonder where we ended yesterday?” (Don’t say, “Who can tell me…” as this is too competitive.)
- Then summarize the first half of the book in one to two sentences, and then read the second half of the book.
E. Using a puppet or object with the story: Ask your assistant to show/move a puppet/object as you read the story. At that time close the book so that the children are not asked to look at two things at once.
IV. How to Show a Book That a Child Brought to Circle
- Ask the children to bring a book that is their favorite, that they got for Christmas, that is about a family, or a pet, etc.
- Ask their parents to help them find their “favorite page” in the book and put a bookmark into that place.
- As the children arrive with their books, put a sticker with the child’s name on it onto the front of each book as the children come in.
- Place all of the books in a basket on a shelf by the door.
- At circle time, bring in the basket of books and place them in front of you.
i. Say to the children, “When I call your name, please come and take your book to your place.” When they get there, say, “Please stand up and show us your favorite page.” Then say, “Why is it your favorite page?”
ii. If you have small group of children, you may say, “Please show your favorite page to each child at circle.” When one child has shown four children, you can call another child’s name to follow behind. This is so that the children do not have to sit too long at circle.
iii. When each child is finished, he may put his/her book back into the basket so that you may return the books to the parents on that same day. (Children are often very worried about getting back their own book.)
V. Story-telling to Children:
- Tell the children a story and ask them to “see it in their mind”. It can be an interesting event that happened to you, or a story that you read or made up
- Then ask them “I wonder what the story looks like in your mind?”
VI The Value of Reading Books to Children:
- By using the variety of literature as outlined here, the children in your class will grow to love books, to hear stories, and even to tell their own.
- You can show the children how to draw a series of pictures for a story and to make a book. They can write the text on each page, or you can help them by “dotting” the words.