For this year's challenge, my goal is to focus more on the activities, lessons, and materials in the Montessori classroom. What better way to kick off an alphabetical challenge than to talk about the alphabet?
Every year, when new parents come to visit the classroom, they boast about their child's ability to recite the ABCs, especially through song. Okay, that is a start for later learning, but it doesn't mean that the child is a genius who knows all of her letters and sounds. It only means that the ability to memorize and recite is present. She can't necessarily connect those sounds and names to actual letters, yet. Sorry to be blunt, but it's true.
They always want to know what to do at home, to help their child continue to learn the ABCs. It is always so hard to convince them that they need to first focus on the letter SOUNDS and not the names. That is when I show them how we use the sandpaper letters. I give examples about how letter names are more confusing and mess up the intial sounds learning process. For example, the name of the letter C always makes kids say /s/. W always makes them say /d/. Y always makes them say /w/. English is already confusing enough, as it is!
I also then explain the process of how the sandpaper letters lead to sound sorting activities, and then putting together the moveable alphabet to spell words. I adore the moveable alphabet for this reason. It's like all of those spelling games that we like as adults. Take a bunch of scrambled letters and put them together to make words. Scrabble, anyone? Only you have a much more defined path to take with your words. You can have fun taking away one letter and adding a new one to create new words. And how wonderful is it for the environment, to not be writing out sounds on endless worksheets?
I have noticed more of a demand to teach children the letter names, in addition to the phonetic sounds. I was taught to wait to do that until after the child has mastered all of the sounds. Some are doing it simultaneously, especially as more and more children are coming to school knowing their letter names.
So tell me a few things. How do you explain the alphabet to your parents? Do you use a moveable alphabet in one box or that huge one that takes up two boxes? Do you teach the names as well as the sounds? What are your favorite alphabet activities?