Years and years ago, I started doing Montessori at home and located a wonderful person online who shared her word lists for the pink/blue/green series. I had not seen this work done in the Montessori schools I had worked at, couldn't find it in Montessori's books, but I also knew that I didn't "know" all there was to know about Montessori and perhaps I'd just "missed" understanding what I was seeing. At this point, I was doing full-time daycare in my home and didn't have time for subbing or for observing; the few teachers I was able to contact told me they didn't use pink/blue/green but couldn't explain quickly what they did use - I remember phrases like "total reading" and "exploration of language keys" but I just didn't get it. One online acquaintance said, "There is something far better than the pink blue green series for Montessori language - I'll send you information." I never did receive anything :(
So I tried to sort it out with currently available resources online; the one album I had didn't explain it well; and the Montessori books I had didn't even MENTION it. (see update below). I tried combining Montessori Read and Write with the pink/blue/green ---- I was just not feeling comfortable with our odd blend - it didn't feel right - not in the same way our other Montessori work just felt right. I finally gave up and used the p/b/g cards as reading cards and modified the materials to suit the elementary children who came to me for tutoring - and made up my own activities.
When I got to AMI primary training (hoping to learn how to use this p/b/g material) I was not only astounded to learn it just wasn't used, but also that the trainer was adamantly opposed to it!!! The methodology actually used in AMI was SO simple - SO basic - SO straight-forward, that it was almost TOO simple! No wonder the p/b/g was developed I thought to myself - because we adults struggle with simplicity ;)
That conversation with my trainer was so freeing!
But don't you need all these word cards to learn to read?
If you might be offended by my answer, please come back tomorrow :) Really, it's ok :) I want to be totally honest and say what needs to be said, but I understand that it won't make everyone happy!
I respect the intentions of those people who created this pink/blue/green series; I respect them as people without having to agree with their outcomes. I also respect the people who learned this system and know no other way, thus continue to pass it on. I can respect them as people without agreeing with the use of this learning to read plan.
4/1/2015 UPDATE: The chapter on reading in The Discovery of the Child mentions an English language materials using a set of drawers. The way that AMI sets up writing/reading experiences and the way that PBG works - what Montessori describes could seriously go either way. I am awaiting hard facts, information, proof on the recently learned connection that Montessori worked WITH someone to create the PBG (The Discovery of the Child seems to suggest Montessori did not collaborate but gave blessing).
ALL OPINIONS AND FACTS EXPRESSED HEREAFTER ARE SOLELY BASED ON my own experience as a past homeschooling, Montessori-wanna-be mother; past/present AMI trained primary and elementary teacher, and continuing homeschool mother using pure AMI Montessori at home and in a part-time co-op. I AM NOT AN EXPERT. I can only express what I see through my own observations and experiences.
Do you need all those cards? Those booklets? Those dials?
FOUR HUNDRED PUZZLE WORDS!?!?!?!?!?
(Correction 1/4/12: FIVE HUNDRED SIGHT WORDS - 25 that must be learned before starting the blue level; the rest to be learned before starting the green series)
Just because learning to read and write is less of a tedium at this tender age, doesn't mean we make it a tedium. Kids learn to read and write with a variety of programs but why strive to take the fun out of it?
I have recently been the grateful recipient of a set of album sections that thoroughly cover the pink/blue/green series. As I read I kept grimacing and thinking, "OUCH!". My primary trainer was SO right when she said "too curriculum" like. MBT and others online who have expressed their utter relief in finding Dwyer's booklet are relieved for a *very *good *reason.
It is my firm belief that the reason for the confusion and for the relief when finding an alternative Montessori approach, is that the pink/blue/green series does not utilize all the proper Montessori principles that should be applied to the area of language exploration at these ages (before age 6).
I was more appalled as I read along. I started creating a long detailed analysis, but I will stick to some main points for this blog post. My full list is a book in itself.
- There is far too much material. Classroom or otherwise. This ignores the need for essentiality - keys - simplicity - the Montessori principles of isolation of quality and isolation of concept.
- The whole plan insults the intelligence of the child. It implies that they cannot move forward in any of the reading/writing areas without the adult to be there with him. Montessori principles mis-applied: independence; exploration; follow the child (not follow the adult).
- Part 2 to insulting their intelligence: with p/b/g, when the children are allowed to begin work with the movable alphabet, they've not even been given all the keys. So, they've received too much of the wrong kind of "food" and not near enough of the right kind to balance it out - and they are stuck now needing to use lots of objects and pictures to create words with the movable alphabet, when work with the movable alphabet should be about them writing what is in their OWN heads and hearts - the movable alphabet should NOT require objects and pictures Montessori principles mis-applied: Follow the child; independence; exploration; creativity; imagination.
- Continuing on the same vein: the children are far too tied to the materials. Montessori principle missed: the materials should be helps/aids, not crutches.
- SUMMARY: This whole system does not trust the child, or the innate depth of the few necessary materials. And with so many "levels" and "stages", it cannot possibly be following the child.
- The aural development (sound games) are labeled as age 4 and are listed in the album after physical preparation of the hand for writing. To the contrary, the sound games can begin in older infancy or toddler-hood, definitely the moment a child walks into primary at 2 1/2 or 3. Sensitive periods are in use right now - let's use them!
- I have to be careful how I say this, or the soap-box will start flying: if I am reading these pages correctly, there should be more green sandpaper letters (phonograms, digraphs, dipthongs), than pink/blue letters (individual letters). One word: NO! We have one green sandpaper board for one key sound; we have simple material later that ties those related letter combos together. Simple.
- While there seems to be some leeway for not finishing up pink before going onto blue and then to green (child can be going back and forth), my experience over and over again is that children who learn to read with a "holistic approach" described by the teachers I mentioned above, fly from no reading to 2nd/3rd grade reading level within a week - somewhere around the 5th birthday (could be a bit sooner or a bit later) and within a year are up to middle school reading level - both in skill and comprehension (because they have continued on with reading analysis, word study, function of words, etc.). I am not seeing the possibility of that occurrence with the pink/blue/green. Oh - and these children have been writing for a long time already.
- Indeed what I hear from many people is that the children are reading before they are truly writing, with the p/b/g series - and there is a minimal or very quiet burst into either writing or reading; whereas experience time and again with the AMI approach when done to its fullness results in a huge explosion very similar to what is described by Montessori.
- The blue series (consonant blends - not even phonograms yet) is noted as ages 5-6. Yet, these are phonetic words - just "longer" than cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant). A child given the keys to the English language (40-44 key sounds depending on the dialect), he can work with these words with ease the moment he touches the movable alphabet at around 4 - 4 1/2. At 5-6, he should be beyond the need for a "learning to read scheme" - he should be actually reading!
- The green series is also noted as ages 5-6; in the Dwyer booklet or the AMI primary language album, a child who has been in a Montessori prepared environment since age 2 1/2 will be well beyond this reading stage at age 5. Again - it happens SO FAST when the keys-based foundation is laid. When a normally-developing child enters at 4 or 5 or 6, they are still reading within a few months, not years.
- Yet, interestingly enough, those people I know who do use the pink/blue/green series consistently from age 3 onward, have children entering elementary at 6 1/2 and almost 7 who are not "done" with the green series. The parents feel totally worn out by the process, the child is not full of joy in reading. And the idea of using elementary albums that suggest "remediation" (which would actually return that joy to their work because it will ditch the pbg, pick up the real keys, and move forward) makes those parents cringe because of all the energy they've already spent. I don't blame them! I'd be upset too! But consider what is best for the child.
Click her for a link to the Montessori Trails page correlating Dwyer with AMI with Pink/Blue/Green - aligned next to each other according to stages.