We got another part of our new Montessori equipment out this week. This time it was the movable alphabet. (We have the red and blue version of this Small Movable Alphabet Letters from Amazing Child Montessori on Amazon.
The movable alphabet is used as part of the Montessori techniques for teaching reading and writing. Its use would usually come after the sandpaper letters which is how letter sounds are taught to begin with. Smallest has skipped that stage by using Reading Eggs and Alphablocks online. However, I want to reinforce her concrete understanding rather than it all being completely abstract, so I thought that the movable alphabet might go down quite well.
I was right.
The first stage in using the material is to have concrete items that are phonetically spelt – so I found a toy cup, a toy tin and a pot. For each one I asked her what it was, and then if she could hear any sounds she knew in the word. (It’s important to note that using this material comes before reading. In Montessori development, children often write before they read, and using the alphabet is a shortcut to that.)
Smallest identified the sounds sequentially, which I thought was interesting. When I worked in the children’s room in Yorkshire, children would often hear the vowel sound first, and struggle most with the end sound. It doesn’t really matter how a child decodes the word though, it’s just important that they do.
It also doesn’t particularly matter if they muddle up c and k to begin with. Or use an upside n for a u. This isn’t about spelling everything perfectly first time, it’s about hearing the sounds, building the words and (eventually) reading them back.
When she’d spelled out her words, I suggested she might want to write them out. (She’s using a STABILO EASYgraph Left-handed pencil in case you’re wondering.) It turned out she didn’t want to copy them, she wanted to draw around them. Which is fine too.
I can see that this activity, along with all the other reading activities she’s already doing, should help everything to come together to make reading and writing become a natural activity for her. She really enjoys working with the various materials, and it helps that they are all new and special to her 😉 I’m hopeful that I can get her writing alongside her reading, and maybe with a rather better pencil grip than the one Small still has.
If you’ve enjoyed this Montessori post, you might like others in this series.