How to setup montessori curriculum? New teacher

I was wondering if you guys could give me some advice on how to teach montessori English for toddlers. Tomorrow I will start and I don’t have much experience with curriculum planning. The school I’m teaching is divided into 4 groups, big, middle, small, and baby class. Each group consist of 7 students max. I teach each group for over 40 min and switch. End of class there’s a circle time where we gather all students together.

My question to forum is how do you setup your curriculum? Do you have a set curriculum for each days? I’m trying to create and fix curriculum for each day but of course materials will be different for each group.

Teaching starts from 9:00 am till 11:30, 4 groups, around 11:40 till12:00 there’s circle time where all children are gathered. Usually from previous demos I’ve seen, during circle time, teachers go over today’s day and weather, also some singing. Any ways, any advice would be great.

I just typed up a reply for an hour and lost it. :frowning:

I promise to type another one soon. I can’t do it again tonight. My apologies.

Before anyone starts asking about forumosa technical glitches, let me explain that the problem was from my end. I typed everything, hit send, but my internet connection was temporarily dead. By the time I got it sorted back out, the page had expired. Ahhhh. Copy and paste long posts into notepad as a backup first, then send them. That’s my advice. :2cents:

Let me begin by saying what you are describing is not Montessori. Still, the school might be a decent Montessori school, but your teaching will not necessarily be Montessori. They might pull students out to send them to your class and it will be more like a regular class than a Montessori class. I’m just judging that by the sound of things. You mentioned:
–The same age groups (Montessori uses different age groups and levels together).
–The 40 minute classes (Montessori uses a long, extended work period).
–Trying to build a curriculum (the Montessori curriculum is quite extensive already).

That said, very few people who teach EFL here have any Montessori experience, so it is difficult to really even imagine how to use Montessori for the language learning. I’ve been studying how to do it for 8 years and it is still difficult to explain. :smiley: So let me begin by addressing your specific situation with how they have the classes set up. Other people, feel free to chime in.

The 2 year olds: The consistency is key to the 2 year old age group. If I have a circle time with 2 year olds, I begin with the same song every time. (After a while, you CAN change it, but students really like the consistency of hearing that song and knowing it is time to start class. We’re the same. I turn my whole attention to the TV every time I hear, “Cheers is filmed before a live studio audience.” Thank God for DVDs). So I would strongly suggest keeping your hello and goodbye songs the same.
What I do for my hello and goodbye song. (I won’t type out all the actions or finger plays).
Hello Song
Hello Hello. Can you clap your hands?
Hello Hello. Can you clap your hands?
Can you stretch up high? Can you touch your toes?
Can you turn around? Can you say, “Hello?”

Hello Hello. Can you stamp your feet?
Hello Hello. Can you stamp your feet?
Can you stretch up high? Can you touch your toes?
Can you turn around? Can you say, “Hello?”

Hello Hello. Can you clap your hands?
Hello Hello. Can you stamp your feet?


Goodbye song
Goodbye Goodbye. (Students repeat. Just repeat it at first until they start repeating it)
It’s time to go. (Students repeat. Just repeat it at first until they start repeating it)
Goodbye Goodbye (Students repeat. Just repeat it at first until they start repeating it)
I don’t want to go (Students repeat. Just repeat it at first until they start repeating it)
(Together) See you later, alligator
Bye bye bye, Butterfly.
Goodbye!!!


After a hello song, I move in to one or two other songs.
–Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
–Open, Shut Them (They love this one).
–5 Little Ducks
–5 Little Monkeys (jumping on the bed/swinging from a tree)
–Peanut Butter and Jelly
–The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Be sure to have enough songs that are high energy and enough songs that are quiet and can get them calm when you need them to be. Sometimes they will be so hyper, but if you start to quietly sing a quiet song they enjoy, they will calm down and sing quietly with you. True with any of the age groups you said you are teaching.

After a song or two, I move into a story. Once they have heard some of the stories a few times, I let them choose which one they want to hear (just have one student pick between two books). Repetitive language and language they can repeat is essential to good stories. Examples:
–Caps for Sale (“You Monkeys, You! You give me back my caps!!!” “CAPS! CAPS FOR SALE. 50 CENTS A CAP!!!”)
–Where’s Spot? (My two year olds liked to say, “Open It!” before I opened any hiding place)
–The Little Engine that Could. (“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”)

Here is a decent list of books I enjoy reading to this age group. (Though not a complete list):
astore.amazon.com/booksforeflcla … e=1&page=1

You will probably have someone jump on and suggest Dr. Seuess. YES! I love Dr. Seuess. But also be careful with books that are long like that and confusing. Students usually enjoy the book, but cannot focus the whole time. Do not be afraid to let the students know you will continue reading it the next day (and do that). But Dr. Seuess is probably better for the 3-6 class, and not the toddler class.

After a story, I do a movement activity with the toddlers. Then sing a song or two. Then the goodbye song. Once they know you, they might also want to give you a hug before you go, but have them do it one at a time. (Not all at once). For songs and stories, with this age, I keep them pretty much the same. I will introduce a new song every week or every 2 weeks, but keep the lesson the same as the week before. Add new things slowly and keep consistency.

The older kids (3-6) are a group you can incorporate different things. I am not sure what materials you will have at your disposal. Many schools in Taiwan expect you to use textbooks for the kids. If that’s what you have, that’s what you have. If not, begin to get familiar with the classroom materials. The language area is probably where you can begin. There are sandpaper letters, which are boards painted pink (consonants) or blue (vowels). Glued onto them are cutouts of letters. The child can trace the letter and say the sound it makes. But PLEASE!!! Do not add “uh” to the end of every consonant. “B” is not “bUH” and “d” is not “dUH.” Sorry. Pet peeve of mine.

The three period lesson is important here also. The three period lesson is a lesson that has three stages to it:

–First stage: Introduction. Take two or three of the letter sounds. Using a complete sentence, tell the student what each sound is. “This is /m/. This is /f/.”

–Second stage: Recognition. Ask the student, “Which one is /m/? Which one is /f/?” Spend most of your time here in this period. You can even make it more interesting, which can help students learn new words or phrases. “Hide the /f/ under the rug.” “Give me the /m/.” “Put the /f/ next to the box.” I slowly move into the third period lesson by saying, “Which one is /f/? (If they point to the f) Yes. So what is that?”

–Third Stage: Recall. Point to the m and ask, “What is that?”

This lesson can be used for vocabulary as well. The more they stay in stage 2, the easier it will be for them to learn.
If the child cannot do stage two, just let it go. He is just not ready for that particular lesson yet. No need to correct him. He will eventually get it.

Hope this at least gives you a starting point to work with.

I’ve that happen. I’ve also seemed to get logged out for inactivity.

I’m an experienced teacher with a lot of graduate courses in education. That said, I wouldn’t feel comfortable walking into a Montessori classroom and teaching without a lot of training. If they are having you design the curriculum, and not just do lesson planning, I seriously doubt it’s a Montessori school. You’re supposed to be trained in their program.

FYI: In addition to having the kids be on different levels, there’s a Montessori approach to how the kids on different levels interact with each other.

Yes and no. What there is not a lot of is training of EFL or ESL in Montessori training centers, the same way there is really no preparation for a Montessori class in most (if any) EFL/ESL training programs. The language instruction in a Montessori training course will teach you how to teach the primary language (in Taiwan, it teaches how to teach Chinese) and for 3-6 year olds, focused largely on writing and reading development in that language. A Montessori teacher is not necessarily prepared to teach English in Taiwan.

Schools here want something that can be duplicated easily for the next person coming through. Because of that, most schools here (even the good Montessori schools) often have an English Teacher who comes in and teaches a curriculum outside of what is already in the classroom. Textbooks, readers, phonics books…basically the same “Cave Bookstore” canned BS we all know. So for the few schools that do have at least some time dedicated to Montessori, many of them have no clue how to implement a foreign language. (That is a problem throughout the world, not just here in Taiwan). From the sound of things, the OP also finds himself in that situation: he is not teaching using the Montessori Method. He is teaching using a more traditional method in a school that may (or may not) be Montessori.

If you ever find yourself in a Montessori environment, I suggest:

  1. Reading a LOT of Krashen’s materials. His focus on language going through developmental stages, comprehensible input, and reducing the affective filter are all key ideas for the Montessori classroom.

  2. Learning to present the materials so that the child has interest in the material. The goal is to have the child choose the material so they can work on it, then teach them while they are working with a material they already are engaged with. In fact, many lessons only take a minute or two to introduce the child to the material.

  3. Learn the materials in the classroom. Take time to work with them and get to know them. Google “Montessori Albums” and try to find albums for the practical life, sensorial, math, language, and cultural areas. Practice with them, paying careful attention to each step. Go slowly and really let the materials calm you. Sounds “zen,” but it helps a lot. What we, as adults, might see as simply pouring water into a container, the child sees as carefully practicing with the materials to gain a skill, focus their concentration, and work through a process. The important thing is not putting the water in the container. The important work for the child is an inner preparation that is not always visible.

First off, your blog is great. your responses here are cool too.

The above statement…mmmmm, I am not so sure. A trained AMI/AMS teacher would love to teach English in Taiwan. I mean you start with singing, rhyming, sand paper letters, getting the correct sounds in, all can be done. Just start at the very beginning, why worry English is a foreign language? Besides, if there is a Montessori environment, then Practical life and Sensorial would add so much vocab anyways. no? Rhythm sticks, rhyming, 3 part cards, all can be done, at a 3-6 age group level.

Do not speak about googling albums, really?? You can do that? I just finished my language album today and nearly tore my hair out. Child development and culture left. Grrrrr.

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Thanks :slight_smile: Being in Montessori pretty much my whole life, I absolutely love it.

I would argue true, to a point. The Montessori classroom is, as far as my opinion is concerned, an ideal place to learn a foreign language. For learning to read and write, I believe there is no better system than what Montessori has to offer, but there is a big difference: the children learning to read and write in their first language already have a good level of vocabulary and experience in the language. They are fairly fluent by the time they are four years old (approximate age) and ready for the sandpaper letters.

The language materials are fantastic, but they are not enough. Second Language Acquisition has a lot of theories and techniques that are unique to this particular discipline of teaching. There is also a lot of research out there about what does work and what does not work. On top of that, the research is done mainly with traditional classroom settings and very few (if any, really) research is done on second or foreign language acquisition in a Montessori environment. The closest I could find was done in Germany and written (or translated) into poor English, so it was hard to draw a lot of conclusions about what was written.

Yes. But language acquisition is more than vocabulary learning. That’s not to say that a Montessori teacher would not be able to learn how to work in a Montessori EFL classroom, but there is more to learn than what the training itself has to offer. I think it would be easier for a Montessori teacher to become an EFL teacher than the other way around.

And it’s not to say that a Montessori teacher would naturally be a bad EFL teacher without learning more. They may be fantastic. But there actually may be a lot of missed opportunities for language acquisition if we just go to our training. For example, in the sensorial area, think of the geometric solids. In the first language, we try to teach the names of the solids, especially using the three period lesson. But it does seem sort of silly to worry about whether a 5 year old knows the name “Rectangular Prism” in a foreign language. In their primary language, this would be fascinating to most children. In the foreign language, it really has little importance and even less opportunities to use it. The focus on the language part of the lesson for me then is centered on the 2nd period of the lesson. “Give me the ____,” “Hide the _____,” “Put the _____ next to the basket.” I can still use the names of the shapes, but focus more on the other language that goes with the lesson.

There is also pressure from schools to push bad practices into your teaching: making the child repeat after you before they are ready or using worksheets. Some of this is really just to do a dog and pony show for the parents. It’s good to know what really works, why it works, why things do not work, and be able to at least communicate that with your co teacher. A school that is honest and can understand, “This might not be good for the student, but we also have to please the parents” has a lot easier time maximizing what does work and still looking good for the dog and pony shows.

Another hard part for a Montessori trained teacher is when to step in. We are trained to let the child work and let the materials correct their mistakes as much as possible. But a child working with the red rods will not acquire a foreign language if they are simply working with the red rods. They might acquire other things, but not the language itself. Learning how to find balance in that exploration/language learning is really one of the hardest parts for a Montessori teacher in an EFL environment. Since we have a shorter individual time rather than longer group time, finding a way to maximize that time is actually a difficult task. It is part science, but mostly an art form in and of itself.

I often wonder if there is enough interest of schools to have a training session in foreign language acquisition in a Montessori classroom. I would love to host one.

Haha. I can totally relate. Don’t worry…the album you made is surely better than the ones you will find online. My advice was really to those people who find themselves in a Montessori classroom with no real place to begin. The albums online would at least give them a good starting point. I sometimes use them personally if I am near a computer and need ideas of what else I could do with the kids. But my albums at home are a much better resource for that. One example I look at regularly:
http://faculty.fullerton.edu/syen/mts/_link.htm

(Note to anyone that has not done the training: Trust me…the REAL Albums are a lot more of a headache than those things are).

But isn’t it great when you have that album printed out, it is sitting there in front of you in a binder, and you’re like, “Did I just do all this (#@)*@#)(*?”

For me it is even bigger that that. Catharsis. Loads of crying after each album - culture will have me in hysterics - because it is not only completion of the album, it becomes about where I come from, back and beyond of India, where I am, a full time mom, and just a lot more.

I will defer to your judgement although I think, the kind of monkey business TW schools want can be pulled off by a Montessorian.

This is a story I tell every passionate Montessorian and so you get to hear it too. YOu know Maria and her son spent years in India. They were with the Sarabhai family who asked Standing to be sent to teach their children. Standing was ofcourse packed off within a year for his religious BS. But other teachers came. I can tell you all about what Standing’s student Vikram Sarabhai achieved, but the point is that a few months ago, his son came home from dinner. A national awardee etc. I spoke to him about the Montessoris and can you believe it? He is Mario’s God son ofcourse then Mario was the ‘nephew’. The Sarabhai family owns original manuscripts of her work, opened the first Montessori in India and the teacher training. It was like being so far removed and yet so close to Montessori. Her teachers taught this guy, Standing taught his father. I meet celebrities and important people all the time and they are like you know just other people and I am not a name dropper or FB picture taker. But this gentleman, in his 60’s was so passionate and so cool and so humble ( I am a fan of his sister who is the best dancer in India) and I mean I saw the Montessori method at work with him and his whole familia. The other thing is that his grandmother who commissioned Standing to come teach her kids, after she saw Maria’s first demo in London, must have been so avant garde. I mean she was traditional housewife in British Indiaa but her children and grand children pioneered modern India. Yes I am gushing. My brush with Montessori trivia. No I still didn’t take a picture of him or with him.

Catharsis is the perfect word. :slight_smile:

Love your story. Would love to talk Montessori sometime in person.

[quote=“Puppet”]Catharsis is the perfect word. :slight_smile:

Love your story. Would love to talk Montessori sometime in person.[/quote]
Yeps!! I am going toyour follow your blog religiously.

I worked as an aide in a Montessori class in US for a couple of years. The key point with Montessori is that children learn through using their bodies. For example, they run a finger over sandpaper cut into the shape of a letter. Then they write that letter in sand with their finger. Later they write it on paper with a pencil. This is great for preschoolers but would also be good for older kids in the early stages of learning ESL. For vocabulary learning you would have tiny 3D objects (such as a small toy car) that kids would match with the correct flashcard. These manipulative materials are what the Montessori method is all about. There’s usually not much curriculum because there are not really lessons so much. It’s more that each child works with materials until they master that task then they can move onto other materials. It is mostly individual work and each child progresses at their own speed. They also have choice in what to work with. Teachers are more like coordinators than teachers.

Unfortunately, I only worked with preschoolers and don’t know how to apply the method to more advanced language tasks. It is a great question though. The key principle to keep in mind is individual, physical interaction with manipulatives.

That is part of it. If I were to sum it up as one thing, I think it would be to say that, in Montessori, children learn through independence and experience. The sensorial materials are quite unique for the Montessori classroom and form a strong basis in getting children to notice specific things about their environment. The sandpaper letters are effective because they engage the child’s tactile senses.

It is helpful, but not as much. There is truly an opportunity where these materials are optimal.

Yes. BUT…the hard balance comes from the independence. Montessori said:
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say, ‘The children are now working as if I did not exist.’”

The materials themselves are teachers. The lessons are provided not to directly teach the child, but to engage the child in the material so they know what to do with it and have a strong interest in trying it themselves. In a well run classroom, the teacher should be able to theoretically slip out and it would still continue working perfectly. (Of course, there might be legal problems with just letting students aged 3-6 be alone in the classroom). :slight_smile: But I have ducked around the corner and watched from behind the observation window before, where students could not see me. It still runs smoothly.

Agree with the second part, not with the first. The Montessori curriculum is more vast than any other curriculum I have encountered. The difference is it is all presented when the students are ready for it, not planned out that you will do this activity on this day and you hope the students are prepared (knowing that some might not be).

That’s a common misconception. It is also a misconception that is perpetuated by Montessorians. At earlier ages, you will see a lot of independent work, but that is because how the normal 3 year old is anyway. Even if they play with each other at home or in a social setting, they are often engaged in parallel play. This is where they are sitting near each other, each playing (sometimes even with part of the same object…they both might be playing with Ninja Turtles or Legos), but they are sort of playing their own story in it. The Montessori classroom allows for this to happen. Many traditional classes do not.

The selection of individual work comes from the students’ choices. You see a lot more cooperative work as the students get older (4-6 years old). One of the biggest studies that happens inside a Montessori classroom is the one whose name slips my mind. haha. I can edit this later and type in the actual information, and I have to go back and confirm this later, but ends up Montessori students spend more time in cooperative work than those students in a more traditional classroom. There is a problem with the study in that it is limited in the fact that it did not look at a variety of programs over many years, but I tend to agree with the assessment.

This is part of where the difficulty comes in. Not that it cannot be overcome. But if students are choosing their work, how can you know what you are going to teach them? And if they choose something where the language will be too easy for them, or they continually choose something of the same subject (i.e. they choose math every day for a few weeks), what can the teacher do? That is the difficult part.

The Elementary language materials are ideal for the school age group. The Great Stories and the grammar materials are fantastic. I have used them both in and out of Montessori classrooms with great success.

This workshop (in Hsinchu) might help:

montessorimatt.com/montessori/we … aiwan1.asp