Friday, September 13, 2013

Dwyer Reading Folders

The Montessori reading method is wonderful. There are so many activities for children to do without ever even realizing they are learning to read without pressure. My son attended a Montessori school for primary (4-5yr) and used the traditional pink/blue/green reading approach. When we brought him home for school at age 6 he was reading but still struggling with comprehension and anything that he couldn't sound out easily. I looked into the p/b/g approach and found it to be so labor intensive for me and got overwhelmed. By the time I was able to find the info I needed, school was already started and I didnt have time to find a bunch of tiny objects and print, laminate, cut hundreds of little word labels. We ended up just skipping it and reading lots of books together. He already had the foundation and I thought it would be ok. Well, he struggled last year. Near the end of the school year I discovered something else to try.

The Dwyer Reading approach

Im not going to go all into how this approach works because there are other sources that have already done this. I will say that I find it much easier to make/obtain the materials for this approach in a homeschool environment. We skipped ahead a bit since my son already had a good foundation in reading. He still struggled with the phonograms so I made him the reading folders. I still need to make the phonogram dictionary.

Here are some links to my favorite blog posts on Dwyer.

Basket of 13 Reading Folders

Outside of the folder, closed with a rubberband

Contents: phonogram cards and tiny booklets

A peek inside the tiny booklets, phonograms are in red

The back of the phonogram cards have the phonogram on the front of the folder for control of error

Materials for these folders were: red cardstock letter size, blank index cards, black, red, blue sharpies, red rubberbands, white printer paper and stapler.

The folders I decided to make 5.5" square which is the same size as the metal insets. I folded up the bottom of the red cardstock paper horizontally so that the sheet was 5.5" x 11", then folded the entire sheet in half making it 5.5" square with pockets on each side. I stapled the pockets on the ends to close them.

The phonogram cards are just blank index cards cut in half with the phonogram on one side in red and the folder title phonogram written tiny in blue at the top right corner on back. If I were to do this over I would make these cards bigger or the folder pockets smaller because then are almost totally covered when they are in the pocket.

The tiny booklets were printed on regular printer paper, cut and sorted. The covers are made with the red cardstock. When you print the words for these booklets make sure you go through all of them and say them to yourself using the phonogram indicated to make sure it is correct for your region. Some of the words were not even close to how we pronounce them. Also, there were a couple of folder title phonograms that did not match our region. 
Here is a link to the download at Kingdom of the Pink Princesses:

Another great resource for reading folders is the book BASIC Montessori by David Gettman.


  1. Lovely work!

    It is interesting (and a bit sad) that the pbg series is considered by so many people to be the traditional Montessori route - when in actuality, what Dwyer describes is a summary outline of the original route (and can be applied to any language) :) pbg was developed by AMS to specifically address the English language, but as so many people have discovered, it misses quite a few Montessori concepts. They meant well!


    1. Totally. I think the reason is that for the first few years that I was blogging...back when there were only six or seven Montessori blogs...the only blogs out there were AMS and using PBG. One of the big ones actually provided free materials to go with it. If you were "self-training" it was the only information you had and you looked at the Gettman and thought "what is HE doing?" It took longer for some AMI people to start blogging and because you have so little to make they weren't offering "free downloads." I think you talk about a topic less when you don't "make something" to go on the shelf. That makes the AMI way just seem smaller and disappear. Anyway, that's my theory. That's why it makes me so ridiculously happy to see so many people blogging about what they are doing! ...with Dwyer....with elementary...

    2. MBT - Great point! I too had downloaded a LOT of the free available material - in my pre-training days. And there was some instruction, but not enough. I followed a lot of people's modifications and made my own to boot. Interestingly, I didn't have access to Gettman at that time, but I had others - and it still wasn't matching up.

      Let's keep blogging ;)

  2. thank you for your comments. I guess I still have some research to do on what "traditional" Montessori is. Maybe I should have said, commonly used in Montessori schools.
    I agree that it is wonderful to see all the blogging being done with Elementary Montessori. It really helps those of us that can not do training.

    1. I would keep the phrasing you have - it will help in search engine results to have the phrase "traditional montessori reading scheme" in a few places - then those searching will find it ;)

      If I may add another link on the topic?

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