Material Spotlight: The Moveable Alphabet

Material Spotlight: The Moveable Alphabet

Introducing the Moveable Alphabet

The Moveable Alphabet is a key part of the Montessori Language Curriculum. The material primarily teaches children how to develop their knowledge of the alphabet, and thus written language skills.

The Moveable Alphabet is a very versatile Montessori material, as it has endless learning extensions that educators can build upon to challenge student’s increasing language competency. For this reason, it is known as one of the most diverse materials in the Montessori Curriculum.

The Moveable Alphabet consists of one or two wooden boxes with 26 compartments. Within these compartments are multiple wooden copies of the 26 letters of the alphabet. The letters are stored in alphabetical order. Consonants are pink in colour, and vowels are blue.

Purpose

The Moveable Alphabet is part of the Preschool Language Curriculum. This material is typically introduced to children between 4 and 6 years of age.

The Montessori Teacher will introduce this material once the child has demonstrated the ability to analyse and reorganise graphic symbols for phonetic sounds.

The key purpose of the Moveable Alphabet is to prepare children for writing, reading, and spelling.

The child’s use of the material progresses from single words, to phrases, and eventually to stories. In this way, the Moveable Alphabet teaches children how to symbolize their own thoughts, and begin to write creatively.

Presentation 1: : Introduction to the Moveable Alphabet

Invite the child to choose a work mat.

Go together to the language section and identify the Moveable Alphabet, bringing it to the mat.

Head back to the Language Curriculum area and bring the Sandpaper Letters. These will only be used if necessary.

Open the box of the Moveable Alphabet, placing the lid underneath.

Ask the child to find a sound in the box. For example: “Can you find the P?”

If the child hesitates, ask the child to find the letter in the sandpaper box first. Once they have done this, have them trace the letter, and then find it in the Moveable Alphabet box.

Work through the letters in this manner, until the child feels confident with the Moveable Alphabet.

When returning the letters to the box, have the child start at the top left corner, filling the box alphabetically from left to right, top to bottom. This is important preparation for reading and writing.

Presentation 2: Three Letter Words

Invite the child to choose a work mat.

Go together to the Language Curriculum area and identify the Moveable Alphabet, bringing it to the mat.

Open the box of the Moveable Alphabet, placing the lid underneath.

Suggest a simple three-lettered word to the child i.e. “Cat.” You may choose to use word or picture cards to accompany this activity.

Ask the child “What sounds do you hear when I say cat?”

Encourage the child to listen and process the word. When repeating the word, emphasise the first sound.

The child will choose a letter they think best represents this sound.

Keep working through the word, emphasising different sounds as you reach them.

If a child is struggling to find a letter, offer guidance. Similarly, if they miss a letter, single out the sound, and help them identify which letter represents the sound.

Once complete, move on to a new three letter word, for example: “Bug.”

Complete one or two more words. Each time, do not read the words back, as this is a word building exercise.

Once complete, return the letters to the box, have the child start at the top left corner, filling the box alphabetically from left to right, top to bottom.

Presentation 3: Short Phrases

Once a child can competently build words, have the child construct a short phase, for example: “I am tall.” You may choose to use picture cards to accompany this activity.\

This is presented in a similar manner as previous presentations.

Presentation 4: Short Story

Once the child can competently complete phrases, ask them to write you a short story using the Moveable Alphabet. You may choose to use picture cards to accompany this activity.

Build the story with the Moveable Alphabet, presenting the material in a similar manner as previous presentations.

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