Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Reading for Montessori Students: Activities and Challenges for All Levels

NAMC montessori student classroom summer reading activities challenges

My Montessori students are bemoaning the fact that this coming Thursday is our last day of school. “Miss Michelle, I wish the school year would never end. I just want to keep learning.” I look at them stunned and wonder if I thought that as a child. “Please, can you give us summer homework?” Now, there’s a thought I know I never had! I never wanted summer homework; all I wanted to do was read. To me, that was (and still is) what summer was all about.

Unfortunately, there are even Montessori students who do not like to read. But did you know that children who read at least six books over the summer maintain the level of reading they achieved during the previous school year? I was unaware of that statistic until I was browsing the Scholastic website and looking at summer reading ideas for “summer homework”. For children who are not as apt to pick up a book for pleasure, it is important to make it a fun and challenging process.

Here are some ideas for incorporating summer reading into your Montessori students’ summer.

Summer Reading for Montessori Students: Activities and Challenges for All Levels

Summer Reading List

Have students keep track of the titles and authors of each book that they read in a list, along with their favorite part of each story. The students can share the lists with their classmates in the new school year.

Genre Checklist

Challenge your students to read one of each of the following genre:
  • Mystery
  • Humor
  • Biography
  • Diary
  • Fantasy
  • History
  • Nature
  • Tall Tale
  • Fairy Tale
  • Reference

So I read it. Now what?

Book reports don’t have to be boring. Here are some creative ways that Montessori students can get more out of their reading, many of which tie into other areas of the Montessori curriculum, including Practical Life:

  • Letter to the author.

    After reading a book, each student shares reactions to the book in a letter written to its author. If a student writes to an author who is still alive, you might actually mail the letter. (A great way to get students excited about this is to read Dear Mr. Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary together as a class).

  • Ten Facts.

    Each student creates a "Ten Facts About [book title]" sheet that lists ten facts he or she learned from reading the book. The facts, written in complete sentences, must include details the student didn't know before reading the book.

  • Interview a Character.

    Each student composes six to eight questions to ask a main character in a book just completed. The student also writes the character's response to each question. The questions and answers should provide information that shows the student read the book without giving away the most significant details.

  • Create a Comic Book.

    Each student can turn a book, or part of it, into a comic book, complete with comic-style illustrations and dialogue bubbles.

  • Picture Books.

    After reading a book, each student creates a picture book version of the story that would appeal to younger students. The students can then share the picture books with a group of young students.

  • Create a sculpture of a character.

    Use any combination of soap, wood, clay, sticks, wire, stones, old toy pieces, or any other object. An explanation of how this character fits into the book should accompany the sculpture.

  • Make several sketches

    of some of the scenes in the book and label them.

  • Construct a diorama

    (three-dimensional scene which includes models of people, buildings, plants, and animals) of one of the main events of the book. Include a written description of the scene.

  • Design costumes

    for dolls and dress them as characters from the book. Explain who these characters are and how they fit in the story.

  • Write and perform

    an original song that tells the story of the book.

These fun projects can be brought to school when your Montessori students return in the fall, to be shared with their classmates during the first week of school.

Read-a-thon for your Montessori School

Whether you’re trying to buy new Montessori materials, books, computers, or playground equipment, children can help raise the money by reading! According to Jennifer Lawton, at

Creating a school Read-a-Thon is fairly simple, you begin by creating forms that students can bring to family, friends and neighbors to ask for sponsors. Students can ask to be sponsored per book, or for a flat donation (children may be a bit more encouraged to read even more if donations are for “per book”). Distribute the forms to each classroom and explain how the Read-a-Thon will work.

The read-a-thon can last the whole summer. Students can ask family, friends, and the community to sponsor their reading efforts. The more sponsors, the more potential money earned for your Montessori school. Be sure to advertise! Local papers, radio, and TV stations will publish public service announcements. To reward students for their efforts, you might wish to thank them at your beginning of the year a picnic or ice cream social. Remember to take a group picture of those who participated so a special commemorative plaque can be made to hang in the school.

Some Montessori students (and teachers and parents) do not need an excuse to read. Others, may need a bit more prompting. To retain those emergent language skills, it is necessary to practice, even over the child-dreaded summer break. So grab a good book, an ice cold beverage, and a comfortable chair and go read!

Michelle Irinyi — NAMC Tutor & Graduate

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, June 19, 2008.


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