How to Use the Montessori Small Movable Alphabet

Written by carole ellis
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How to Use the Montessori Small Movable Alphabet
(Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The Montessori small movable alphabet is a set of stiff, cut out letters that can be used to practice reading skills, word building skills and even spelling, although most Montessori curricula do not place a heavy emphasis on spelling during early years. The small movable alphabet is often used to help children identify phonograms in words, and several alphabet sets in multiple colours may be used at once. In the large movable alphabet, the vowels are different colours than the consonants. However, this is not the case with many small movable alphabets.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Set of picture cards
  • Set of matching word cards
  • 2 small movable alphabets in different colours
  • Floor mat

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  1. 1

    Arrange the materials on the floor. The mat should be spread out completely, and the small movable alphabets should be placed within easy reach on top of the mat. The picture cards should be off to the side, but close at hand.

  2. 2

    Select a picture card from the stack. The child will be building the word associated with the picture, so you may wish to let her choose the first card so that she is comfortable with the image and the letters associated with it. The card should be placed in a clear area with plenty of room to the right to build the word.

  3. 3

    Begin building the word together. You can show the child how to sound out the word to build it, or a beginner still learning about phonograms may wish to use the corresponding word card to build the word. Whether the word card is used as a guide or not, the child should build the phonogram with letters that are a different colour from the rest of the word. For example, if the picture is of a boat, then the b and t should be one colour, while the o and a are a different colour. You can also adapt this exercise to simpler words by having the child use a different colour for the vowel in each word. However, it is better to just use the large movable alphabet if it is an option.

  4. 4

    Check the work using the word cards. If too many have been built incorrectly, then you may need to do the lesson with the child again before letting them work independently, or you may wish to try a different tact the next day by using a different lesson. If the words are correct, then encourage the child to continue until all of the cards have been used and all of the words built and checked.

  5. 5

    Encourage the child to do the lesson on subsequent days independently. Praise him for checking his work against the word cards and for repeating the exercise on his own.

Tips and warnings

  • The child may wish to read the words aloud as she builds them or upon completion. This is fine, but not required.

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