HOTM Blog Hop- Montessori: Language

Welcome back to 10 Days of Homeschooling Montessori!
We begin our second week learning about 
Montessori activities for Language.
Here are the previous posts in this series:

Friday’s giveaway winner of the HOTM Online Conference ticket is commenter #1, Leisure Treasure.  Congrats!  I’ll be contacting you by email!

As with Mathematics, many of the sensorial and practical life activities in Montessori prepare the child for formal language work.  While the child is sorting buttons, he is using fine motor skills necessary for writing.  As she grips the knobbed cylinders with a three-finger pincer grasp, the child is preparing for pencil work as she gets older.  Tweezers and tongs help to strengthen little hands.  We mustn’t discount the overlap in activities such as these and rush formal work in reading and writing.  Children show natural sensitive periods for developmental milestones, and we as their parents should be looking to take advantage of those times.
I love the language methods and materials of Montessori.  There is a strong phonics base in Montessori, using tactile materials, and a clear progression of work toward fluent reading and writing.  In Dr. Montessori’s classroom children would often be able to write neatly in cursive by the time they were six years old.  While I don’t introduce cursive that early into our homeschool, I do use a lot of prewriting activities and print practice to help with coordination and fluidity.  I also create other activities that might not be strictly Montessori by being creative with the materials.
Language activities (for both reading and writing):
  • Metal insets (I actually use shapes from our Geometry Cabinet): Have the child take a tray with a shape and frame of his choice, a piece of paper (you can get square papers to match the frame size here), and 2 or 3 colored pencils.  Have the child remove the shape from the frame and trace both the shape and the frame with his finger.  Then he can trace within the frame with one pencil, and around the shape with the other.  Next steps with this material would include creating patterns in the shape (stripes, zigzags, full coloring inside, etc.), or even using more than one inset to create artwork by overlapping shapes and colors.  Every part of each activity should be demonstrated very deliberately (as in this video).
Metal insets
  • Sandpaper letters: The sandpaper letters may be one of the most recognizable materials for the Montessori method.  Here is a post on making your own.  There are different ways to use the letters for reading and writing.  Here are some ideas:
    • Take out a few distinct lowercase sandpaper letters at a time (not b and d for example).    Make sure the child is sitting facing the letter the same way you are.  Show one to the child, trace the letter (exactly the way you would write it) with two fingers while saying the sound of the letter.  Repeat, and then let the child try it.  Do the same with the other letters.  
    • Use a few sandpaper letters along with a number of small objects that start with the sounds of the letters you chose.  Trace the letters and make the sounds of each, one and a time, then encourage the child to say the name of each object and place it next to the letter it starts with.  If your child does not yet recognize the beginning sounds of words, use it as a demonstration lesson and you exaggerate the beginning sounds and put them in their proper places.
    • Choose one lowercase letter from the box along with a piece of lined paper (with appropriately-spaced lines for a young child) and a pencil, trace it exactly as you would write it, then write it on the paper. Repeat, and then have the child do it.  Emphasize the correct direction and movement.
  • Moveable alphabet:  I absolutely love the moveable alphabet.  If I were to only have one actual Montessori-designed item, it would be this one.  You certainly can use other letters (Lakeshore Learning has nice magnet ones), but the feel and look of the wooden ones, with different colored vowels and consonants, just make me happy, and the kids are really attracted to them too.  
    • Take out the moveable alphabet with your child, and a mat, and begin with a word that is easy to sound out, like “cat”.  Sound out each letter (don’t use the letter names) slowly to isolate them.  Then remove the first letter and replace it with another, like “m”.  Again sound out each letter carefully and slowly.  Give your child a few other beginning consonants to choose between and encourage her to sound out the new word she made.
    • In working with the moveable alphabet you could also use small objects that are easy to sound out, or even pictures of phonetically simple words.  I’ve used these noun and verb cards, and bought this set of mini language objects.  I usually choose 6-8 items (words with V-C-V combinations like “pig”, “jet”, “bug”, etc.) and as they get better at creating the words, I introduce words with consonant blends like “clip”, “tree”, or “nest”, or consonant digraphs like “ship” or “chop”.  The child will choose an item, say its name, then begin to isolate sounds and choose from the alphabet box until the word is spelled out on the mat.
Moveable alphabet with small objects
  • Other language activities I like to use include:
    Practicing cursive with salt tray
    Pin pricking leaf template on cork board
    • salt tray, for practicing writing letters (my daughter, who is in 2nd grade, has been using this for cursive practice, as well as our preschoolers for print practice)
    • pin-pricking with a large thumbtack (encourages proper pencil grip)
    Magnetic letters with small objects to spell
    upper and lower case matching
    • rhyming sounds with items or cards
    • word ladders
    • letter bingo or other similar grid games
    • upper case and lower case matching (I have used glass beads and written on them with a sharpie to use along with a laminated sheet)
    • letter magnets to spell words on a magnetic white board
    • alphabet boxes (like these- LOVE them!)
    • these alphabet bean bags- there are tons of ways to use them!
    • grammar symbols (we’ve just recently gotten these and have begun to use them with these downloadable cards)
    • magnetic poetry kit with magnetic white board
    • vocabulary building, story telling with felt boards and characters
words written on dixie cups, bananagrams letters inside
My First Magnetic Poetry Kit with magnetic white board


Get more inspiration by visiting these other awesome ladies:



At the end of the week I’ll be giving away this mystery bag to start your Montessori materials collection. Be sure to come back and enter on Friday!