As soon as Adrian turned two years old, we began a more in-depth exploration of Alphabet letters. First, Adrian would go on a Letter/Sound Hunt, where he would walk around the house and collect everything that begins with a particular sound.
We also play Phonetic Sound Game and "I Spy" game, both of which are very important in a Montessori Language curriculum. Sound Game (as described in Muriel Dwyer's booklet about writing and reading) is also called I spy (as in David Gettman's Basic Montessori). The Sound Game is a pre-reading activity used to improve the child's auditory skills with the aim of preparing them for reading and writing. There are six stages of the Sound Game in the Gettman book, from being able to guess what word begins with a certain sound, to being able to analyze all parts of multi-syllabic words. When the child has mastered all the stages of the Sound Game, they should be able to identify any sound in any word, therefore paving the way for their future literacy. Sound games help a child develop hearing skills, as well as attention and concentration. Developing these skills from an early age will give your child an advantage in early language and literacy, as well as music.
For example, to play the "I Spy" game, you would …
Present about 5 objects to a child, and say: "I spy with my little eye something that starts with Z."
I child would pick an object that starts with Z: a Zebra.
"I spy with my little eye something that starts with K" – a Key.
"I spy with my little eye something that starts with L" – a Lamp.
A subset of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness is child's ability to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes, the smallest units of sound. Simply said phonemic awareness is child's ability to segment words into their component sounds. For example, separating the word "cat" into three distinct phonemes, /k/, /æ/, and /t/, (that is being able to hear the sounds in the word cat, and not the letter names) requires phonemic awareness. Being a basis for learning phonics, phonemic awareness improves children's word reading and reading comprehension, as well as helps children learn to spell.
Phonemic awareness and phonological awareness are often confused since they are interdependent. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate individual phonemes. Phonological awareness includes this ability, but it also includes the ability to hear and manipulate larger units of sound, such as onsets and rimes and syllables.
There are few "Montessori ways" to introduce letters to a toddler. The idea is to introduce the letters phonetically -the way they sound– rather than by the name. Grouping certain consonants and vowels together allows children to quickly form as many words as possible when learning the letter sounds.
- Order suggested in How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin:
First set: c m a t
Second set: s r i p
Third set: b f o g
Fourth set: h j u l
Fifth set: d w e n
Sixth set: k q v x y z.
- Here is the order as suggested in Montessori Matters by Sister Mary Ellen Carinato et a (introducing 2, 3, or 4 letters at a time):
s m t a p f c
r b l i g n
h j k w o u v
y z x q e
- Here’s an order used in some other Montessori schools:
First set: m s a t
Second set: b f o x
Third set: w i g l j
Fourth set: c u p z
Fifth set: h e n r d
Sixth set: v k q y
- And here’s another order used by yet other Montessori schools:
First set: r a m f
Second set: b i t g
Third set: p o n l
Fourth set: h u s c
Fifth set: d e x q y
Sixth set: z v w j k
You might want to introduce the first letter of the child’s name first. Luckily for us, Adrian starts with "A".
p.s. For illustration purposes, I have arranged the letters in an alphabetic order.
"A" is for Adrian, Angel, alligator, apple, Ariel, Anna (from Frozen), Australia, Antarctica …
(apron, arm, ankle can also be added to the list).
Banana, bag, bride, basket, ballerina, ball, Barney, book, butterfly, bird, Bell (a Barbie doll), ballon, baby, Batman, Bugs: lady-Bug, bee; (also boy is for "B").
Adrian loves matching insects (buy here).
Tracing "B" in polenta.
Adrian loves using dot stickers (see below). I did not laminate the printouts since it is difficult to remove stickers, and this is also an invitation to draw objects beginning with a particular sound. (Find free templates of the Uppercase traceable here.)
Christmas Tree, sheriff Callie, caviar, cup, car, carriage, camel, cat, cloud, collards, cactus, cow, Crayola Crayons, candy, cracker, Cheerios cereal, corn, carrot, caterpillar.
p.s. Next time, we might also add a cake, cupcake, cash, calf (baby cow), a crocodile and a chicken.
Dad, domino, dog, duck, Dora, Disney, Donal-Duck, dolphin, dragonfly, dice, dime, dot, dance, dinosaur, Doc McStuffins, diaper, dove …
… Daisy, duck, drum, doll, dress, Daffodils, Dahlia.
Europe, eggplant, Eiffel Tower, eskimo, Elsa (Frozen), Epcot, elk, eagle, envelope, elephant, Elf, eye, ear, egg.
Fairy, "Fly Zone", floss, feather, frog, fish, Forsythia flower, farm, flashlight, fan, fork.
"I Spy" game: First, I would pronounce the sound ("I spy with my little eye something that starts with "F"), and without Adrian visually seeing the letter (having just heard the sound), he has to find something on a laminated page that begins with that sound ("Frog") - auditory sound recognition. Or, I would write a letter on a chalkboard and ask him, "What sound does this letter make?" and he would have to find an object that starts with that sound - visual letter recognition.
I wrote letter F on a chalkboard, and Adrian decided to trace over what I wrote.
He then painted over the letter F with water. (We did similar activity in this post).
Goofy, gift, glass, grasshopper, gate, goat, giraffe, girl, glasses, gorilla, grape, guitar, gray.
I had glued red card-stock to the tray, to add some pop-up color when Adrian traces letters.
Tracing control card letter "G" (buy together with wooden letters here).
Hammer, hen, heart, hippopotamus, hat, honey, horse, hay, hand, hug, Home Depot, hut (type of house), house, hanger, handkerchief.
Ice-cream, iceberg, ice, ink (computer-ink cartridge), icicles, inchworm, iguana, igloo and infant.
Adrian also put together letter "I" from magnets using Alphabet Pattern Blocks; used dot-stickers to trace letter "I" (link to a free pdf here), and traced both capital and lower case "I" in the corn.
"I" is for Ice – "It is cold!" (Adrian kept dropping the ice-cube.)
Adrian put together capital letter "I" from marbles, and observed the lower case cursive Movable Alphabet "i".
Tracing lower case "i" in a Montessori Letter Work book.
Julia, jar, jam, jungle, jaguar, joy, jug, jet, jump rope, jingle bell, jigsaw puzzle, jacket, jeans, jack/bunny-in-a-box, jellyfish, (p.s. you can also add jelly beans).
Adrian is tracing lower case "j" in a Montessori Letter Work book (read here).
- following letter "j" with see-through marbles (see here),
- using Uppercase Do-A-Dot Letters templates (link to a free pdf here),
- writing J j with Alphabet Pattern Blocks (see here),
- Julia made "J" from these beautiful hand-made Montessori inspired wooden geometrical puzzle pieces (you can buy it here).
We even made a jellyfish in a bottle with extra glitter (a inspired by bhoomplay – see here).
Adrian loves tracing letters in polenta! (You can use sand as well.)
Kitty (from "Hello Kitty"), Kimchi (spicy cabbage), Katea (Julia's Best Friend), kaleidoscope, kangaroo, key, kettle, kite, kiwi, kitten (baby cat), knife, kiss, kale, King, also kitchen, ketchup, koala.
- Julia made "K" from wooden geometrical puzzle pieces (buy here),
- Adrian made K k using Alphabet Pattern Blocks (see here),
- Adrian loves putting colorful dot stickers,
- Adrian also made K k from Wikki Stix (see here),
- lastly, Adrian traced K as a King in a Montessori Letter Work Book (see here).
See here Letter "L" post, and how Adrian made "L" from Spruce tree needles.
See here "Letter M" from our Montessori Language 🔠 Letter Series.
"N" is for 🌼nature, 🐦nest, 🔨 nail, 🌌Neptune, 😴 nap, napkin, 👃🏻 nose, nut, necklace, 💰nickel ….. Also, 🐋🗡narwhal, 💅🏻 nail polish, 🏥nurse, 🔢number, 9️⃣, 19, net, 🌃night, 📢noise, name, 📿nun, neuron, newspaper, 🎅🏻 north, 📝note, nutmeg, and 🌎🇳🇴 Norway, Nebraska, 🇳🇮 Nicaragua …
Make alphabet exploration hands-on by offering various sensory and creative ways to "make" and trace letters! For example, make a letter from nature finds, such as 🌼flowers growing in your backyard. Here, Adrian made the letter "n" from yellow Forsythia flowers (all you need is a glue and a pink cardstock to represent a consonant letter according to Montessori Language curriculum). Also, offer to trace the letter withing colorful dot stickers or make the letter from magnetic puzzle Alphabet pieces (see here). For more Spring hands-on fun, see here our 🌸Spring 🌱Inspired Themed Unit Study.
To learn proper letter direction, I made "O" from play road tape and Adrian enjoyed driving his cars. Montessori Sensory tracing tray this time I presented with rainbow rice instead of sand (to make rainbow rice, add vinegar to dry rice plus food coloring, shake then air dry). I lined up the small wooden tray with white paper to give the tracing a color pop. Montessori Letter Work book offers visual directions for proper tracing as well as tactile edged templates. Adrian also enjoys making letters from Wikki Stix ~ which are flexible, bendable, reusable sticks the child uses to make letters, numbers, shapes or other objects. Lastly, we used wooden letters and cards to further reinforce letter recognition and proper letter tracing. Happy hands-on learning!
See here Letter P • 🔠Series • Letter Hunt • Montessori Language
See here Letter 🌈🐰🏎R r • 🔠Series • Letter Hunt • Montessori Language
See here "Letter "S" ( 🔠 Letter Series)."
How about spelling with dandelions!
We are using Montessori Movable Alphabet to spell out "spring." Buy here Montessori Small Wooden Movable Alphabet with a box or here without the box. Note how in Montessori Language curriculum, vowels are blue, while consonants are red.
There must be [a] provision for the child to have contact with nature, to understand and appreciate the order, the harmony and the beauty in it… so that the child may better understand and participate in the marvelous things which civilization creates. ~ The Secret of Childhood, Dr. Maria Montessori.
Do you associate 🌸SPRING 🌱with a certain color? For me, it is 💛yellow (maybe because in our backyard we have mostly 🌼Daffodils, Dandelions, and Forsythia bushes). Also, have you tried 🔠spelling with 🌿🌺nature finds⁉️Nature ✍🏻️writing makes learning so fun! See more of our hands-on fun Spring activities here in a post 🌸Spring 🌱Inspired Themed Unit Study.
Stay tuned for more letters…