Montessori education is about providing a prepared environment that emphasizes self-motivated growth for children in all areas of their development, i.e., cognitive, emotional, social, and physical. But have you ever wondered how exactly that is achieved? What are these tools that are a part of the nurturing environment present at Springdale Academy that fosters your child’s innate desire for knowledge and understanding? Introducing a brand-new set of articles that will discuss the significance of the materials used in our classrooms.
One important thing to remember is that sensory play, or sensory learning, is a crucial aspect of the Montessori method. It promotes learning through exploration, curiosity, problem-solving, and creativity. Let’s get started then, shall we?
The Sandpaper letters
Sandpaper letters are found in the language area of the classrooms at Springdale Academy. These are letters of the alphabet in lowercase that are cut out from sandpaper and stuck onto pieces of wood. The purpose of this material is to teach the child the sounds of the alphabet through muscular and visual memory. It also engages their tactile sense. The child is encouraged to trace the symbols over and over again until the shape of the letter becomes a part of the muscle memory, which is why our teachers are always there to guide them if the children make mistakes. Sandpaper letters are the precursor to the Movable Alphabet activity because only when they have mastered all 26 sounds can they begin to write short phonetic words.
The Moveable Alphabet
The material focuses on teaching the children how to develop their knowledge of the alphabet and, in turn, their written language skills. It is introduced to children between the ages of 4 and 6, who have demonstrated the ability to analyze and reorganize graphic symbols according to phonetic sounds. It consists of wooden boxes with 26 compartments. Within these 26 compartments, there are multiple lowercase wooden copies of the 26 letters that are stored in alphabetical order. Consonants are pink in color while vowels are blue, just like sandpaper letters.
Objects are placed on the felt-lined mat that corresponds to the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) format. For example, a dog. The teachers tell the children “this is a dog” and that they are going to be building this word. The child is asked to pay attention to the first sound they hear when the word “dog” is said. The letter “d” is emphasized. Once the kids say ‘d’, they are encouraged to find the letter from the box and place it next to the object. The teacher continues till the word ‘dog’ is built on the mat. The process is carried out again, one by one, until all words have been formed beside their corresponding objects. If the child happens to make a mistake, our teachers guide them with the correct placement of letters by repeating the sounds.
The moveable alphabet gives a child the ability to express themselves in written words without being able to hold and write with a pencil. This develops the child’s memory, lays the groundwork for correct spelling, and teaches them that all words are made up of sounds. By blending these sounds, children will be able to read phonetic words with ease, which is why at Springdale Academy, writing comes first and then reading.