Montessori-Inspired Language Extensions for Reluctant Readers & Writers

My first daughter’s reading/writing experience and my second daughter’s reading/writing experience have been complete opposites so far. Lila zoomed her way through the pink/blue/green series and just took off, becoming obsessed with reading and writing her own books. I don’t know if it’s because Nora is a second child or if it’s just her personality, but she is my reluctant reader/writer. She can do more than she believes she can, so my task as her guide is to build up her confidence in small, more manageable chunks that aren’t too intimidating. So I created several Montessori-inspired language extensions to use with her — it’s been a labor of love!

After learning the pink and blue series the traditional way, I could see that Nora needed some ways to practice that would remind her that she can do this! I made some beginning/ending/middle sound clip cards for the pink and blue series, and they were a hit! [Also available in cursive: pink and blue.]

Command cards have always been a hit in our house, but I wanted to design some that corresponded exactly to the pink/blue/green series. So I made my own! These are short phrases that the child reads, then acts out. In this picture, Nora just read the blue series command to “jump up” — check out that smile! [Also available in cursive.]

After the short phrases of command cards, I wrote some simple sentences to correspond to the pink and blue series and paired each sentence with a picture. The child must read the sentence, then find the picture that matches. [Also available in cursive: pink and blue.]

My movable alphabet sentence starters are Nora’s favorite — I think it’s because the writing prompts spark her creativity and then she gets to use the movable alphabet to write whatever she wants. She uses invented spelling, which is developmentally-appropriate and also helps to build her confidence! [Also available in cursive.]

We’ve also played some word games that have really helped Nora have fun with reading and writing! One day we built words in a grid (kind of like Scrabble, but without any points) using the movable alphabet. In the middle of it, Nora was inspired by one of the words I added to write an entire sentence — “I am feeling tired.”

Another great way to make reading and writing feel special and fun is to stock up on blank notebooks! I put one on Nora’s pillow one day with a short sentence I knew she could decode. We passed messages back and forth all day! She was also inspired to start writing down her dreams in another blank book. Stock up on blank books and pull them out when your child is super interested in something — but don’t stand over her while she’s writing in it. Give her space, so she can bring it to you when she’s finished with the purest sense of accomplishment. 

And of course — don’t forget about texting! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — the digital keyboard is the movable alphabet of the 21st century. Not all children need it, but there are some who will be more enticed by texting than by composing sentences using the traditional movable alphabet. And that’s okay! Don’t discount it just because it uses a screen — it is 2021, and like it or not, the ability to use technology is a practical life skill. Nora’s my reluctant reader/writer, and she is ten times more likely to try via text message than she is in the homeschool room with “authentic” Montessori materials.