The Movable Alphabet is one of Maria Montessori’s original works that she created for the classroom. Consisting of individual, wooden letters painted in red or blue to identify vowels and consonants, the work is designed to help children begin to sound out words and create phrases and sentences without the burden of using a pencil and having to remember how to form letters. This frees the child to focus on the sounds the letters make and allows them to use inventive spelling to build words.
Children use this work in a variety of ways. One child can use it to focus simply on beginning sounds, while another child may have the skill set to write short stories. Recently, one member of our classroom decided to use the Movable Alphabet to tell a humorous story about his little brother. Using a combination of conventional spelling and inventive, the child wrote:
“Wuns Peter trikt me by going upsars and in to the gest room”
(Once, Peter tricked me by going upstairs and into the guest room.)
After the work was completed, the sense of pride was obvious on the child’s face! And he didn’t have to struggle with letter formation in order to tell his story.
“The goal of early childhood education should be to activate the child’s own natural desire to learn.” – Maria Montessori