The Montessori Movable Alphabet is an amazing material. Children can use it to practice their writing skills in a hands-on way! I created a simple resource that you can use to make your own set of DIY Montessori movable alphabet letters! Discover how we did it below!
The Movable Alphabet
This is the traditional Montessori Movable Alphabet. You can get it here. The Montessori Movable Alphabet is a fantastic material that helps children to master writing! In Montessori settings, children learn to write before reading.
Encoding (putting sounds together in order to make words) comes before decoding (blending sounds from written letters to make words). When children work with the movable alphabet, they are “writing” their own thoughts! They can start with words and language that is familiar to them, and make their own discoveries! In contrast, reading other peoples thoughts and language can be far more difficult and requires a deeper level of abstraction and analysis. In other words, writing can occur more easily before reading.
Before using the Movable Alphabet, the child should already have worked with the sandpaper letters, be familiar with beginning, middle and ending sounds, and should have worked with the sound pouches. The movable alphabet will prepare your child for developing the auditory and analytical skills needed to learn to write. Working with this material will help them to associate the letter symbols with their corresponding sounds.
This material can get pricey! I wanted to create a simple resource in case you would like to make your own set of DIY Montessori Movable Alphabet letters! You can see how we did it below. Make sure you read through the whole post because I have a free printable template for you at the end! It comes with accents for French, Spanish, and German speakers.
How to make your own movable alphabet
You will want to be sure to print several copies of the letter mats in the free printable at the end of this article. Having several copies of each letter will allow the children to make many words and even sentences!
Now, you can cut out the individual letters. Use a paper to make this part quick! We use a guillotine paper cutter.
Be sure to laminate the letters for additional durability and to prevent them from becoming damaged with repeated use.
How to use the letters
Once you have finished prepping this material, you can present letters to your child. After the child has a grasp on letter sounds (by using sound pouches and small objects), they can begin to make words using these letters. This is precursor to writing. Before the child will be able to write using a paper and pencil, they can use the movable alphabet to become comfortable with encoding words.
When using this material, the child may make errors with spelling words. It is not necessary to correct them. They are learning that the sounds that make up words correspond to letters.
Punctuation is not important at this stage. Punctuation and capitalization can be introduced at a later time.
In addition, it is not necessary to ask the child to read what they have written. The goal of this activity is to practice writing (encoding) not reading (decoding). The child should have many, many opportunities to practice this difficult skill.
When using the movable alphabet (whether it is the wooden material or a DIY version), it is important to encourage a love of reading and writing! As parents or guides, we can model enthusiasm and excitement as the child embarks on this journey!