The Small Movable Alphabet in Montessori

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The Small Movable Alphabet in Montessori

Can we just only talk about the Small Movable Alphabet in Montessori, like forever?

Should I have devoted my whole website to this amazing Montessori material? Hindsight… am I right? I am love with this material!

Child working with Montessori Small Movable Alphabet
4 year old, Madeline, working with Small Movable Alphabet.

You see, my Montessori raised daughter was a self taught reader at 3.5. I say this not to brag (because I can’t take the credit for that), but to emphasize the fact that she was very resistant to writing.

Instead of using the letter sounds to begin to write, she used them to read. This is in spite of my every attempt to go in the Montessori order of writing, then reading.

Writing is easer than reading, according to experts. Writing is like encoding and reading is like decoding. Think about it like this: writing is like putting together a cipher and reading is like decoding one. This is why Montessori teaches writing before reading.

I worked with her on all the awesome pincer grasp activities, but she simply hated to write!

She was in a Montessori primary program prior to my obtaining my primary certification, and her guides reported to me that she refused any sort of writing activity! So frustrating!

They said she refused to use the Sandpaper Letters and the Sandpaper Numbers.

Of course I feel silly now for all my frustration and worry. As with many worries in parenting, my worry was for not.

Small Movable Alphabet (Print)
Small Movable Alphabet (Print)

Letter sounds first

All children should be familiar with letter sounds and be given the opportunity to construct words in the tactile fashion provided by the Montessori Movable Alphabets.

In my opinion, as a Montessori trained mother there of three, the Small Movable Alphabet, if given a choice between Large and Small, would be my choice.

It’s smaller (obviously) and that means your child will have more space to create words and even longer.

The box containing the letters in the movable alphabet are not in sequence, meaning when you introduce this tool, your child should already be familiar with the letter sounds. The vowels are blue and the consonants are red, making this concept easy to explain and easy for your child to understand.

cursive small movable alphabet
The Moveable Alphabets allow the child to form words and sentences.

When you present this activity to your child, you start with a simple quiz:

Taking care that the letters are upright and recognizable, ask your child to pick a few letters out of the box using their letter sounds. This is to ensure your child is ready for this activity.

How to present the Montessori Small Movable Alphabet

  • Have your child sound out a word with you. Something fun and interesting to them. You choose a word and they choose a word.
  • Find the letter for each sound and lay them out to form your chosen word.
  • Ask your child to find and lay out the letters to form the word that he is sounding out
  • Sound out the words each of you made and replace them in their rightful space in the box.
  • Observe your child to see if they are interested in the activity, then continue with sounding out and forming words.
  • If your child shows interest after working with the Small Movable Alphabet for a time, you can introduce short sentences.
  • Of course, as with any Montessori material, have your child put the Small Movable Alphabet box in its designated place.
  • Watch in wonder as your child uses this material to form words and their own ideas in sentences!
Child working with Montessori Movable Alphabet

I can’t emphasize enough what a powerful tool this is for a child’s writing and reading! No matter what type of school your child attends, use this at home. It’s a blast and it will help your child’s early literacy!

Cheers and don’t forget to subscribe!

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