Welcome To Our Fall/Winter 1998 AMC Newsletter Page

Fall/Winter Issue

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American Montessori Consulting
P.O. Box 5062
Rossmoor, CA 90720
Heidi Anne Spietz, Editor
Frances Henderson, Manager
ISSN 1084-743X
Copyright 1998 - 2009
All rights reserved

The holidays provide many wonderful opportunities for interdisciplinary lessons relating to cultural diversity. Kwanzaa, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah are just some of the special holidays where families get together and celebrate traditions. Lessons involving traditional clothing, meals, customs, dance, language, etc. help children to appreciate cultural similarities and to respect differences. In the Fall/Winter 1997 newsletter you'll find extensive information about the various recipes handed down from generation to generation. You'll undoubtedly want to use some of this information in conjunction with the material provided throughout this newsletter.

As you prepare your interdisciplinary lessons in the history and traditions of world cultures, you'll also want to illustrate similarities and differences in one or more of the languages spoken.

The lesson plans, web site reviews, and other materials mentioned will help you to accomplish this task.

The Montessori method may also be used to present lessons in any foreign language. I have chosen lessons from the Basic French Vocabulary book published by American Montessori Consulting for purposes of illustration. These exercises can be easily adapted to accommodate lesson planning for other foreign language presentations as well.

If you don't speak French, you'll need to ask someone fluent in French to pronounce and record the sounds of the letters, words and phrases for you. Use sandpaper letters and the movable alphabet exercise to introduce the French alphabet. Refer to Montessori at Home: A Complete Guide to Teaching Your Preschooler at Home Using the Montessori Method to see how the English alphabet is presented. From - Basic French Vocabulary, by Heidi Anne Spietz, published by American Montessori Consulting, ISBN 0-929487-70-2, Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, PC2066.S65 1994, 94-21518, 372.65'41-dc20 CIP Copyrighted 1994. All Rights Reserved.

The Matching Picture Exercise is a fun exercise which will reinforce the new vocabulary being introduced. You can use the Matching Picture Exercise with matching labels to introduce your child to the names of various objects in French. You may begin with any category you wish; however, for purposes of illustration, I will begin with objects in the home. I suggest presenting two sets to smaller children in the four to six year old range. You can present up to four sets to children seven and older.

Maria Montessori felt that the child instinctively knew when to move on, so let your child be the guide. He will tell you when he is ready to learn additional words. Your child must never feel pressured. If his 'will' is involved he will make great strides and will feel a sense of accomplishment.


Initially start with two to four matching picture sets. For this illustration, I will use hat (le chapeau) and shoe (la chaussure).

For both the Missing Letter Exercise and Matching Picture Exercise you will need to either purchase sets of letters of the French alphabet or construct the sets yourself. Be sure to construct the accent marks too. Refer to Montessori at Home: A Complete Guide to Teaching Your Preschooler at Home Using the Montessori Method to see how this is accomplished to present lessons in English. Use the Three Period Lesson, which has been described in Maria Montessori: Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook and Montessori at Home: A Complete Guide to Teaching Your Preschooler at Home Using the Montessori Method, to present the sets to your child.

Using Three Period Lesson, you need to either draw or obtain two identical pictures of each object presented. I'll assume that you love to draw for this illustration.

First, draw two identical pictures for each term you wish to present. Let's assume that you want to present the word "le chapeau". You will need to draw two pictures of a hat. Next, cut an index card in half and print "le chapeau" on each half. (Older children will want to make the accompanying labels themselves.)

Next, draw two pictures of a pair of shoes. Again, cut an index card in half and print "les chaussures" on each half.

If you feel uncertain about your French pronunciation, request the assistance of a French speaking person. This person can record a French vocabulary study list for you. You, then, can either bone up on your pronunciation, or elect to use the recorded cassette tape during the following exercises mentioned throughout this newsletter to insure that your child learns the correct pronunciation of the French vocabulary words. As you proceed with your French lesson planning, you can request that your friend record the phrases and other spoken material needed for the lesson presentations as well.

Step # 1 Begin with the two pictures of the hat. Place the pictures side by side. Place one label under one picture of a hat. Then repeat the exercise by requesting that your child place the second label under the matching picture of the hat. Both of you should say "le chapeau" aloud. Listen to how "le chapeau" is pronounced on the tape.

Next, repeat Step #1 with the matching pictures of the shoes and labels of the shoes. Then, listen to how the word "les chaussures" is pronounced. Say the word together.

During the second period you want to give your child time to fully understand the concepts introduced. Do not rush through this period. Younger children may enjoy looking through magazines and finding pictures of "les chaussures"(shoes) and "les chapeaux"(hats). Older children may need more time as well during the second period as they learn more and more French words. Encourage them to review as much as they wish. They may enjoy matching exercises as their French vocabulary grows.

To make sure that your younger child fully understands the differences between "les chaussures" and "les chapeaux" place the pictures of "les chapeaux" and pictures of "les chaussures" in front of him. Ask him to show you the "les chaussures". Next, mix the pictures. Once again ask him to show you the "les chaussures". Then, ask him to show you the "les chapeaux".

During the third period you will now want to determine if your child can clearly identify "les chaussures" and "les chapeaux". Place the picture of a "la chaussure" (shoe) in front of him and ask him to tell you the name of this word in French. Your child should respond clearly by saying "la chaussure". Repeat this exercise with the picture of "le chapeau". Next, introduce many other French words using the same Three Period Lesson.

Children are delighted to participate in the Missing Letter Exercise pictured below.

Missing Letter Exercise

Later, during subsequent lesson presentations you will want to progress as follows: For this next illustration, I will use chair (la chaise) and bed (le lit). As your child learns the French name of the object, ask the following: Où est la chaise? Where is the chair? Explain that (Où) = Where, (est)= is, (la) = the, and (chaise)= chair. You may also want to show your child that in French certain accent marks are used which are not used in the English language.

Next, explain to your child that nouns in the French language, unlike nouns in the English language, are deemed to be either masculine or feminine. Further explain that the article preceding the French noun always agrees. You may want to review with younger children the meaning of nouns and articles. Explain that nouns name persons, places and things, while articles, which usually appear before the noun, are words like a, an, or the.


un (a, an)

le (the)


une (a, an)

la (the)

Reinforce the concept that if the noun is masculine, then the article must always be masculine. You may want to use the following examples to help your child appreciate this concept.

Example #1 Où est le lit? Where is the bed? (Lit) is masculine. Thus, (le) is used.

Example #2 Où est la chaise? Where is the chair? (Chaise) is feminine; therefore, the article (la) is used.


Below are examples of how the articles may be used with other categories.

Feminine Articles

LA MAISON.........................THE HOUSE

L`´ECOLE.........................THE SCHOOL

LA FILLE.........................THE GIRL

Explain to your child that (l') is used before any masculine or feminine noun beginning with a,e,h,i and o.


l'anglais............ English




Masculine Articles

LE NUAGE.........................THE CLOUD

LE CHAT.........................THE CAT

L'INSECTE.........................THE INSECT

If your child does not understand this concept, review the above with him again. Once you feel that your child fully comprehends the difference between masculine and feminine nouns and articles proceed on to the discussion of plural noun forms.

Explain to your child that in French when the noun changes from a singular to a plural form the article also changes to correspond with the plural noun. For example, "la fille", (the girl) which refers to one girl changes to "les filles", (the girls). Further explain that the singular articles "le" and "la" become the plural "les" in French, while singular "un" and "une" become the plural "des".


Voici or "Here is/here are" is a useful phrase for helping your child to recognize objects and practice formulating appropriate answers in French. Initially, you will want to introduce Voici........... Later, when you feel that your child has learned the French equivalent of "Voici" you can proceed with "Voilà".

During the three period exercise you may want to ask your child to identify an object which is near you. Let's suppose that you want your child to tell you where the television is located. Let's further assume that the television is located near you. Simply say the following:

Question: Où est un téléviseur? (Where is the television?) Your child would respond as follows:

Response: Voici un téléviseur.

Voici = Here is

un = the

téléviseur = television If the object is a male singular noun your child will answer according to the model below.

Voici.......................(Here is...............)

Voici un livre. Here is a book.

Voici le café. Here is the coffee.

Voici un crayon. Here is a crayon.

Voici le chapeau. Here is the hat.

Reinforce that "Voici" is used for both "Here is/here are". If you have a small chalkboard or another fun learning tool like a magic slate you might suggest that your child practice printing the words and phrases onto the board. Younger children may only want to print the article and noun, while older children may enjoy writing the entire phrase.

Always individualize lessons to meet your child's needs. If you feel that your child seems uninterested with the subject matter of the lesson, you should encourage him to select another category which interests him. Emphasize that each category is important, and that in order to effectively write in any language, understanding the meaning of many words becomes necessary. As your child begins to write sentences in French he will see the necessity of this; consequently it is not necessary to belabor this point.


The following color coding is used in Montessori schools today to help children learn grammar.




Pronoun/Light Pink




Conjunction/Purple or Mauve



The following exercise will require the use of color coded cards. You should present the noun parsing tray exercise first. An example of the adjective parsing tray exercise is presented below.

Construction paper works well for the parsing tray exercises. You'll need to purchase an inexpensive multi-color packet from your local arts and crafts store. Each card should measure about 3" x 5", so you should be able to make multiple cards from one sheet of construction paper. You will need a small tray, color coded grammar cards, labels for each part of speech, i.e. a label which says article, a label which says adjective, a label which says noun and phrase cards. In the following example, 'The white skirt' or (La jupe blanche) is the phrase card. Look at the picture below.



(Phrase Card - Written on a blue card)


La (Written on Gray Card)

Jupe (Written on Black Card)

Blanche (Written on Blue Card)

Adjective Parsing Tray Exercise

Print the phrase 'La jupe blanche' on a long strip of blue construction paper. The article "la" is printed on a gray colored card, the adjective "blanche" is printed on a blue colored card, and the noun "jupe" is printed on a black card. Make up four additional adjectives, i.e. brown (brune), green(verte), black(noire) and blue(bleue). Remember to select blue construction paper to make these adjectives.

Using the noun "jupe", encourage your child to substitute other adjectives to create additional interesting phrases. Remember to introduce no more than four new adjectives during a learning session. Take time to review other adjectives and nouns during 'each' learning session.

Later, create phrases using the following adjectives: mauvaise, bonne, petite, grande, belle, jolie, nouvelle, vieille and jeune. You'll need to explain that these special adjectives come before the noun.




Next, present a phrase card with a masculine noun. Remind your child that the spelling of the article and adjective always agrees with the masculine noun.


The White Pants


The Green Pants


The Brown Pants

Later, after your child has spent an ample amount of time creating different phrases, introduce appropriate verbs to create sentences. Again, present two verbs at a time during the learning session. For example, if you introduce the verb 'avoir' (to own, or have) you could introduce the following sentences. 1. Elle a une petite jupe. (She has a small skirt.) 2. Tu as une petite jupe. (You have a small skirt.)

Use some of the following French links for creative writing lessons. You may even want your child to correspond with a French speaking pen pal.

Here is a fictitious example of a letter that a young pen pal might write:

My name is Angélique Dumont. I am nine years old. I live in Paris with my parents. My mother is 34 years old. My father is 37 years old. My sister, Suzy, is ten years old.

Suzy is petite and brunette. She swims well. She is very intelligent. She works hard. She does not speak English. She is studying the English language.

I am petite and brunette also. I speak French and Spanish. I study English. I play tennis.

Mon nom est Angélique Dumont. J'ai neuf ans. J'habite à Paris avec mes parents. Ma mère a 34 ans. Mon père a 37 ans. Ma soeur, Suzy, a dix ans.

Suzy est petite et brunette. Suzy nage bien. Elle est très intelligente. Elle travaille dur. Elle ne parle pas anglais. Elle étudie la langue anglais.

Je suis petite et brunette également. Je parle français et espagnol. J'étudie l'anglais. Je joue au tennis.

I hope that the above examples from Beginning French Vocabulary have given you some ideas of how to present lessons in other languages like Italian, German, Spanish, etc.

Supplement your lesson planning exercises with online lessons in language and culture.

An excellent compilation of French related lesson planning sites is located at Tennessee Bob's Famous French Links..

The American Library Association offers an extensive listing of Spanish sites for young children at Arts and Entertainment Part 2 - Sites for Children . A HEAD START ON SCIENCE, National Demonstration Project at California State University Long Beach offers numerous science related exercises which, in my opinion, are very consistent with the Montessori method. Click on to Family Extension Activities for a superb selection of exercises available in both English and Spanish. Have you been searching for a site which will help your child see the similarities between Spanish and English? If so, then you'll want to visit Espangles.

Some other sites you'll want to explore include Japanese Language - Home Page, Spanish Language - Home Page, German Language - Home Page, and French Language - Home Page.

Montessori Resources: A Complete Guide to Finding Montessori
Materials for Parents and Teachers
contains the following:

* indepth reviews of highly recommended resources and products designed for
preschoolers through 15 years of age

* tips on how to use the resources in a Montessori setting

* information on where to buy supplies for integrated lesson planning

* tips on how to make some of the Montessori materials yourself

* selected book lists for lesson planning

* recommended computer software

Read more about foreign language books and learning aids you might enjoy, by CLICKING HERE

Go to the Browse by Category on the left of the web page, then click on Learning Foreign Languages.

As always, we appreciate *your* input. Please e-mail us with your comments.
We hope that all of you have a delightful school year and holiday season.

Please e-mail
American Montessori Consulting at
Copyright c1998
American Montessori Consulting
P.O. Box 5062
Rossmoor, CA 90720
Heidi Anne Spietz, editor
Fall/Winter Edition
all rights reserved

Would You Like to Create Beginning Reading Books for Your Own Children??

Natalie's New Home

So many parents and teachers have been interested in *Gabby and Her Goslings* and *Looking for Missy* that we decided to add a third book to this reading series.

Natalie leaves life in the country for a new life in the city. Adventure abounds with Natalie and her mischievous feline friends Rusty and Toby. Yet, Natalie sets time aside to protect morning doves, Peter and Penelope, from ever present danger. *Natalie's New Home* and *Looking for Missy* are to be used with *Modern Montessori at Home: A Creative Teaching Guide for Parents of Children Six through Nine Years of Age*. Check to see *Modern Montessori at Home* is available at your local library. For additional information visit the following page:

  • AMC New Books and Resources Page

    For additional information about Montessori Resources, and other Montessori books for teaching older children visit:

  • AMC Montessori Bookstore
  • American Montessori Consulting Home Page