Getting Familiar with the Movable Alphabet

The movable alphabet is an amazing tool in the Montessori language curriculum, but it can be quite overwhelming for a young child to see so many letters all at once. Arranged in a tray with 6-7 letters in each row, it can be difficult to find the letter you’re looking for — especially if you’re just getting started. So how can you help your child become familiar with the movable alphabet so it doesn’t deter her from using it?

Start with just the letters you’ll need

When you’re starting to build CVC words according to pictures or small objects, take out just the letters your child will need and line them up across the top of her work rug. This limits the overwhelm and sets her up for success when she’s just starting out, building her confidence levels and making it more likely that she’ll try using the movable alphabet again.

Practice putting the letters away in the right places before you practice getting them out

Write something yourself with the movable alphabet and have your child put the letters back. It’s easier to put them back because your child can match each one of the letters to the ones that are still in the tray, rather than having to find them from scratch.

Play the Bring Me Game with letter sounds

Sit on one side of the room and tell your child which letter sound you want her to bring. Have her cross the room to the movable alphabet tray, find the letter sound you named, and bring it back to you. This gives her practice looking for a specific letter without the added pressure of having to do that for a whole word all at once.

Make a grid replicating the movable alphabet tray

Make a grid to replicate the tray and let your child practice matching the movable alphabet letters to the grid. This will build muscle memory of where each letter is within the tray.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The more exposure your child has to the movable alphabet tray, the easier and less overwhelming it will get!