Last month I shared how I made a DIY Montessori Moveable Alphabet for my preschooler. Today I am going to share how my preschooler uses this alphabet box as a writing tool.
My preschooler is at the beginning stages of writing. Often during her quiet time she finds an empty notebook or stack of post-it notes and fills them with special notes and messages disguised as scribbling. To an outsider this might look like a mess or a waste of paper. But it's not! My preschooler is just showing her readiness to write. She has so many ideas that she wants to express with written words, but the act of writing letters, words and sentences is a VERY labored process right now.
While reading Montessori Read and Write: A Parent's Guide to Literacy for Children I discovered a straightforward approach to teaching reading and writing. First my preschooler learned letter sounds and formations using our DIY Montessori sandpaper letters. Then she progressed to using the Moveable Alphabet to build words.
After she practiced finding each letter's "home" in the Moveable Alphabet box she was ready to build words! Here's the process we use...
1. Choose a topic
I know my preschooler will be more invested in this writing activity if she chooses her own topic, but if she is unable to think of a topic, we talk about her day and I lead her to a topic that I know will interest her (birthday parties, school, lunch, grandparents, etc.). On this particular day we spent the morning playing at the playground. My preschooler was very excited about spring, so writing spring words seemed like a natural connection to our day.
2. Start with one word
After we choose a topic, we start by building one word. Our conversation goes a little something like this...
Me: What is the first spring word you'd like to write?
Me: Oh that's a great spring word! What sound does that start with?
Me: Great! Can you find that letter?
After she finds the first letter in the word. I'll continue the conversation by asking her for the next sound and so on until the word is complete. Sometimes my preschooler is unable to determine the sound/letter that comes next. If she is unable to find the sound/letter even with encouragement, then I simply tell her the letter. I want this to be a positive experience that is quick and effortless. I don't want her to get frustrated or shut down just because she is stuck on one letter.
3. Continue building words
Each time we bring out the Moveable Alphabet my preschooler builds 3-5 words. I try to encourage her through prompting to pick words that are short and easy to spell phonetically (i.e. sun), but often she'll choose longer, more complicated words (i.e. birds, playground). When my preschool spelled the words birds and playground incorrectly I did not correct her mistakes. I simply encouraged her to continue. I know her spelling will continue to improve as she learns digraphs, blends and other writing conventions.
4. Write down the words
After my preschooler has completed her word list, I read them to her and then write them down on piece of paper (spelled correctly). Sometimes I simply jot down a quick list of the words, but other times we'll make a card for a family member or mini-book out of the words. When I'm done writing the card or mini-book, my preschooler will read the words and add illustrations. On this particular day she chose to make a mini-book and illustrate each word.
This is just the first way we've used the Moveable Alphabet. In the coming weeks, we'll also use the Moveable Alphabet to practice writing word families and sight words.