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Going back to basics - Montessori grammar symbols

Yes, I know I know ... it's been a long time since I wrote anything. Let me explain: the school year has started 😅 On top of that I had this crazy idea months ago to present a speech at a conference ... the conference was last month 🙄 So I had absolutely no time or energy to do anything else. But I'm here now 😀

This year I'm going back to basics with some elements of my teaching. Mea culpa Maria!! I've forgotten how absolutely brilliant your grammar symbols are! The prodigal daughter has returned and she's implementing the symbols in her teaching (sorry for getting so Biblical 😆).

So, for anyone here who is not that familiar with Montessori grammar symbols, let me explain. Maria Montessori had this inspired idea like 100 years ago to assign a colour and a symbol to each part of speech. For example, he noun is symbolised by a black triangle, the adjective is symbolised by small dark-blue triangle, the article is symbolised by a smaller light blue triangle.

Each symbol has a story behind it. The noun's black triangle , for instance, represents the pyramid (first human structure) and carbon (first mineral discovered by humans). Maria Montessori came up with the story for each part of speech and children learn those stories when they start their Montessori education. In Poland, where I teach, they learn those stories when studying Polish grammar.

Grammar symbols are absolutely brilliant to use when teaching foreign languages, especially languages with a set word order in a sentence (hello English!!).

So this school year grammar symbols came back to our classroom. My kids, most of them at least, know the symbols so using them in a lesson required just a short refresher course.

We've just started a new unit and the plan was to revise how to describe nouns. You know, a simple "a modern sofa" and "quite nice armchairs". And this how we did it:

By simply placing the cards under the right symbol I made all my kids remember how to describe objects in a simple way. Later on in the week, their task was to recreate what you can see on the rug to show me that they understand the rules (when to use "a/an" and in what order to put the words).

The symbols came in handy in the next lesson as well as a form of reminder on the board:

The idea to teach them how to use the definite article came to me during the lesson, by the way 😝 It just seemed like a perfect moment to explain the difference.

They now know what symbol represents the article so when I was correcting them I was simply pointing to the small blue triangle; when I was correcting their writing I was drawing small little triangles when the article was missing.

Once a week I have two consecutive lessons with my kids. I used this time to give short presentations to small groups of students, when the other kids were working on a project. I created a whole set of cards with borders corresponding to the colours assigned to parts of speech.

We were forming sentences following the correct pattern and revising the difference between 'a/an' and 'the' because I needed to know if every single kid got it. They did! 🎉

After this picture was taken we moved on to replacing the "it" in each sentence with "the ... ..." . And yes, I know, I should have the cut out symbols placed above each sentence. I know that would have made it so much better .... but I left them at home 🙈🙉🙊 So I'll use them next time!!

The plan now is to use the symbols whenever possible. I already put the wooden flat ones on the shopping list. We'll use them to revise present tenses next week and introduce all new tenses we'll be covering in the future. There are just so many possibilities to use them! I'll try to share any new ideas I have with you ... maybe even more often than once a semester 😂

1,569 views2 comments


Leonidas Pollakis
Leonidas Pollakis
Oct 10, 2019

We all really appreciate your creativity, Ewa! Keep on keepin' on!


Lio Lio
Lio Lio
Oct 10, 2019

Thanks, Ewa! It's wonderful you're back with your inspiring ideas! Looking forward to more posts on this topic! Wszystkiego najlepszego!

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