When Lilly was a baby, I stumbled across the world of Montessori. We visited Montessori classrooms, I ready Montessori blogs and followed the likes of Nicole from the Kavanaugh Report to try and learn as much as I could about the world of Montessori.
While we aren’t a 100% Montessori family, we have picked up bits and pieces that we feel align with our family values and my own values as an early years teacher. Today I wanted to share a few of our favourite Montessori materials which have really helped Lilly as she has started learning to read this year – our moveable alphabet and our language object drawers!
This year Lilly started mainstream school as a Prep/Foundation student. She is one of the youngest students in her class and has struggled a little to ‘keep up’ academically with the other kids, some of which are a whole 12 months older than her. I’ve been trying to support her the best that I can at home in a way that suits her developmental needs.
I had been wanting a set of moveable alphabet pieces and managed to find a gorgeous set handmade by a small family business not far from me. They even made them in our Queensland State Font so I was sold! You can check our out moveable alphabet pieces right here. They also sold a wooden tray for the letters to be stored in but I just grabbed a cheap plastic container from our local dollar shop and added stickers so she could easy find the letters she was looking for.
These moveable alphabet pieces are perfect for younger children who are just starting to learn about letters and sounds because they take away the letter formation aspect from writing and allow the child to move and manipulate the letters with their hands.
When Lilly is stretching out a word, she can focus on finding the correct letters from our tray without having to worry about forming the letters correctly on pen and paper too.
Originally, we used the moveable alphabet to explore familiar letters and sounds. We would talk about the letter name and sounds that it could make. I’d also select two similar looking letters like m and w and have Lilly sort our language objects based on their beginning sound.
Now you might be wondering what a language object is! They are basically just little objects used for early phonetic activities like exploring beginning sounds!. After visiting an amazing Montessori classroom when Lilly was one year old, I started collecting little language objects so that I could create our own language object drawers. I even wrote a little blog post about them which you can read here.
I searched high and low for a set of drawers here in Australia that were big enough to house all 26 letters of the alphabet. Jaycar finally delivered the goods with their 30 Drawer Cabinet. I also created my own set of alphabet labels which you can actually download over in my Free Resource Library – they’re available in all Australian State Fonts too!
Next came the fun part – filling the drawers with our language objects! I grabbed little objects from our craft stash (like pom poms, pegs and small dice) as well as little objects from our local dollar shop. Mini Zoo also stock a beautiful range of Good Luck Minis by Safari which are perfect for using as language objects.
I also went through our ‘tiny toy stash’ which was a tub full of small objects that came with toy sets that were choking hazards for our younger babies. Barbies and Sylvinnian Family sets often come with these tiny little toys!
If you’d like a closer look at the types of things we have in our language object drawers, you can watch my IGTV episode right here.
Now that Lilly is 5 years old and beginning to learn how to read and write, we use the moveable alphabet and language objects together a lot! She will often take language objects out of the trays and then use the moveable alphabet to ‘build’ the words. It’s really quite sweet watching her stretch out the words and build them!
Sometimes we’ll play a game where I build the words with the moveable alphabet but skip a sound so that she can stretch out the word and find the missing sound.
Want to learn more about Montessori? Here are my favourite books for parents that want to learn more!
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