Reading – Sight words

Now that this child can read 3 letter c-v-c words independently, we have introduced some basic sight words so she can read phrases and sentences. Here she is making her own sight word book to practice at home. Her parents will help her practice. Sight words simply have to memorized as most are not phonetic. In order to progress to reading phrases and sentences with three letter c-v-c words, she will have to read a few words that are not phonetic such as I and for.


Combining her phonetic knowledge and her sight words she will confidently move into reading phrases, sentences and books that really address phonetic learning such as the Bob series. From here we move onto learning more phonetic based sounds that contain two or more letters such as sk and tw. She will have the phonetic skills and add these before moving onto phonograms.

Reading – matching pictures to words

Movable Alphabet

Now that this child has built words with the Movable Alphabet by sounding out various c-v-c objects (pan, bug, box etc…) she is able to read words and match them to the photos. This is slightly more abstract as she is now given pictures (instead of concrete objects) and words (instead of the individual letters). We will continue this way through various words and then will introduce the basic sight words. She will then begin reading phrases containing c-v-c words.

Writing on the Chalkboard

Another way to practice writing letters besides the sand tray (see previous post) is writing on a chalkboard.  Funny how this may be one of the few times a child of this age will actually have this experience!


The child first traces the sandpaper letter with their finger which is the same way the sand tray work is done.  They pick up the chalk and write the letter on the chalkboard.


So many of our children are beginning to write.  We write in the sand tray, with the chalkboard, on paper and sometimes they will paint letters at the easel.  Of course, we have our metal insets which is a great place to begin writing practice!  It is so important to provide the environment which will enhance the child’s development of a certain skill at a specific time.  So, the sensitive period for writing has begun, I see some holiday gift opportunities!  (Fun pads of paper, colored pencils, crayons, markers, colored pens etc…) This is something that is never forced, the child should come to it themselves.

The Sand Tray

The children are very interested in the sand tray in the school.  We have two sand trays which allow the child to trace various numerals and letters.  Once given a lesson on the name of the number or the sound of the letter, they trace the sandpaper to feel the shape and then trace it in the sand.  This gives the child the opportunity to practice writing letters/numbers before writing them on paper.  We have heard various shouts of joy when a child writes a “three!” or a “zero!” in the sand tray!  They are excited to be able to produce what is on the card themselves.


This activity prepares the hand for writing, gives a stereognostic impression of the letter or numeral and gives the child the satisfaction of doing it themselves.

Beginning Reading

All Montessori schools have different ways of teaching children how to read.  This was one area that has been developed over time as Dr. Montessori herself was Italian and the language is primarily phonetic.  English has some phonetic components but of course has many influences.  Many Montessori schools begin in a similar way, with the metal insets (preparing the hand for writing- Dr. Montessori felt writing often came before reading) and the sandpaper letters.  We also use other phonemic awareness activities to make sure the child understands the sounds of some letter before beginning to work with the Moveable Alphabet (another Montessori material).  In our school, we follow a specific sequence to ensure there are no “holes” in the child’s knowledge.  As my trainer in England used to say, “a scarf is a scarf but would you rather have one with lots of holes or no holes!”  We prefer no holes.  One of our children has moved on to the beginning of their reading sequence with our specially prepared materials.  Here she is using a box with small 3 letter phonetic objects (c-v-c) and “building” words with the Moveable Alphabet.  She would sound out the word and place the letters next to the objects.  (All of the words in this box have the short /a/ vowel.  I am a speech pathologist as well and have noticed some vowel confusion in the past so I prepared these materials with 5 boxes, one for each short vowel.)


After building all six words, this child then wrote them down on a piece of paper, she was very proud! We will move on to the other boxes with the other vowels and then continue on.