I have found it really helpful to understand how children learn and how to support my littlie explore her world in a fun way that builds her confidence. I thought I’d expand a little on some of my other posts here and here that had Montessori leanings.
I like the Montessori approach because it is child led. It seems to foster a sense of independence and confidence as the child progresses as their own speed. The skills are learnt in an order that benefits the child. For example the child is encouraged to write before read. They are able to use the sounds they have learnt to create their own messages, enjoy this process and have a sense of ownership rather than read someone else’s writing.
I do not claim to be a Montessori expert by any stretch of the imagination. I have read blogs, websites and a few books. So with that in mind, here we go…
A, B, C
Our English alphabet is a series of shapes that have no correlation to the sound. They are simply shapes ascribed to each letter. A child must learn that:
A) the words they say “mama I want milk” is made up of individual sounds.
B) They then must learn that these sounds have a shape.
C) And that these shapes can also make different sounds when put together – t & h = th.
D) and when these shapes are written down they can be read.
Ultimately they must recognise that visual shapes represent our verbal language. They are linking verbal comprehension (understanding spoken language), verbal expression (talking) visual expression (writing) and visual comprehension (reading). Phew! It is a big conceptual leap for them to understand that the shapes around them represent the language they speak.
In Montessori learning children are taught sounds “ah = a” before they learn to recognise the name of the letter “Aay = A” and the shapes of letters (a, A). Lowercase seem to be introduced first. I am amazed by the number of alphabet books that mix up the sounds and names for letters – very confusing for a child. “a = an apple” and then “b = a bee” rather than “b = a ball” They need to be able to hear the sounds in words as this makes more sense. We have been playing games with letters in a similar way to our number hunts.
Eye Spy Activity
On our car journeys we began with a very basic ‘Eye Spy’. Eye spy a coloured object – something red (red bus).
You can begin to emphasise the sounds. “Yes! Well done a red bus. Bus, buh, buh, buh..bus”
Once they have the hang of the game you can begin to introduce sounds more specifically.
Eye Spy something red that begins with ‘Buh’. Remember to use the sound of the letter “ah” not “aay”, “buh” not “bee”. “cuh” not “cee”.
Begin to link sounds for them. “mmmm, mama the mmmmm, monkey!” Any vague toilet related humour goes down well here so “Urghhh, ssssssss, smelly sssssss, sandwiches” would ensure a peel of laughter. Fun, fun, fun! Notice and ‘catch’ sounds together. If they hear a new word or ask about something new, repeat it a few times with the sound accentuated. We called these games our “Sound Catching Games” as she’s learning to ‘catch’ the sound in each word.
After playing these game A LOT! You can move onto the guessing game.
Hold two items in each hand (they should have different sounds such as Buh (b) and Sss (s) not Muh (m) and Nuh (n). Hold a bag and scissors in each hand. Say “this is a bag, it has a buh sound. Buh for buh, bag. These are scissors they have a sss sound. Sss for sssscissors. Which one begins with the sound “buh?” See if they can identify the right item. If they can, continue with this game changing the items and sounds. If not go back to the eye spy games.
You can go on sound hunts looking for items with the same sound. You may want to strategically place items with a particular sound in easy reach.
Find items with two/three different sounds and place them in a heap, see if you can both sort them into the right sound basket.
Introducing Letter Shapes
I will post part 2 on how we have introduced the letter shapes as that is a full post in itself!
Have fun sound catchers!