Get lots of fun ideas for using Montessori language objects during play-based early literacy activities when you are teaching preschool and kindergarten at home.
Montessori language objects are small objects that represent words while playing a variety of early literacy games when teaching preschool and kindergarten at home.
These miniatures are also called alphabet objects or phonics objects because they are mostly used as props to help preschool and kindergarten children develop pre-reading and early reading skills.
Most young children will find Montessori language objects very compelling because they are naturally interested in tiny objects.
It's definitely worth investing in a Montessori language objects starter set if you are homeschooling for preschool and kindergarten and you want play-based and hands-on learning activities to make early literacy games fun and engaging.
Keep in mind that Montessori language objects have small parts and must be used with supervision to avoid choking. It's best to wait to do any of these activities if your child sometimes puts things in the mouth to explore them. It's also a good idea to keep them out of reach when you're not using them.
Montessori language objects are used in a variety of early literacy games during the preschool and kindergarten years to entice your child along the journey from pre-reading to early reading.
A fun way to increase your toddler's vocabulary is to put several Montessori miniatures in a bag. Then do a Montessori 3-period lesson to help your 2 year old learn new words in a fun way. Although it's called a "lesson", it's really just a fun game with three steps:
You'll want to select language objects that aren't as familiar to your toddler. Let's say you've got a funnel, a hinge and a zipper.
First you'll invite your child to choose one of the objects. You'll name it ("This is a funnel.") and invite your toddler to say its name. You'll repeat this naming step with other two Montessori language objects.
The next step is to invite your toddler to recognize each Montessori miniature without any pressure to say its name. Mix up the objects on the mat or table. Then invite your toddler to touch one of the objects you name.
Make it fun by asking your toddler to move it, hide it, pass it and so on. This way a lot of movement is built into the activity since children learn through the senses and movement. Plus you'll repeatedly name the object ("You found the funnel!") so that your toddler can learn the new word.
If that step went well, then the final step is to see if your toddler remembers the new word. You'll place one of the Montessori language objects in your toddler's hand and ask, "What is this?" It's ok if your toddler doesn't remember the name of the object. You can repeat the game another day.
Now that your toddler knows the names of all of the miniatures in your collection of Montessori language objects, your toddler might enjoy matching them to pictures of similar objects.
Object to picture matching activities show that a 2D image represents all aspects of a 3D object. Your 2 year old will need to to think about the essential qualities because the size, color and shape of the object in the picture won't be exactly the same as the 3D object.
This kind of object to picture matching activity helps your toddler develop abstract thinking, which is needed later on to learn that letters represent speech sounds during the preschool and kindergarten years.
Before preschool children are ready to learn phonics, your child needs to develop phonological awareness. That means becoming aware of the units of sound in spoken words.
Understanding rhyming is one phonological awareness skill. When you teach rhyming, you'll draw attention to the same speech sounds at the end of words, even if the spelling is different.
To introduce the concept of rhyming words and what it means for words to rhyme, gather two Montessori language objects that rhyme and one that doesn't rhyme.
Let's say you have a jug, mug and pin. You'll name each one as you set it out. Then comment on how jug and mug rhyme because they sound the same at the end. Pin sounds different at the end and that's why it doesn't rhyme. Together with your child, think of and say more words that rhyme with jug and mug such as hug, tug, rug and bug.
After playing Odd One Out, you can put together a rhyming objects basket. Invite your preschooler to sort them to find the rhyming pairs of objects. When your child can think of and say more words that rhyme with one of the objects, you'll know that your child understands rhyming.
Another phonological awareness skill is hearing the individual sounds in words. The smallest unit of sound in a spoken word is called a phoneme.
Phonemic awareness activities make it easier for 3 and 4 year old child to learn alphabet sounds and phonics. Research shows that children who struggle to learn to read also struggle to isolate individual sounds in words.
In fact, phonemic awareness is the best predictor of success with learning to read! That's because letters are symbols that represent speech sounds.
Playing I Spy with Montessori language objects is a fun way to help preschool and kindergarten children start developing phonemic awareness.
Invite your 3-5 year old child to choose 3 objects from a beginning sounds or alphabet sounds set of Montessori language objects that you have inside a bag or basket. Name each object as your child takes it out. Then say: “I see something that starts with the sound /j/…. jet! Jet starts with /j/.” Repeat with one of the other objects, but this time see if your child can figure out which object you're thinking of when you say its beginning sound.
Once your 3-5 year old child can identify at least the beginning sound of spoken words, then it's simply a matter of showing what each speech sound looks.
If you’re interested in hands-on alphabet activities for learning letter sounds, you’ll find Montessori language objects very useful. They offer a fun alternative to phonics worksheets for preschool and kindergarten kids.
For example, you could invite your child to identify the beginning sound of Montessori language objects and match them with Montessori sandpaper letters or moveable alphabet letters.
Once your child knows letter sounds, he or she can then begin to build words with the Montessori moveable alphabet.
Ideally, your child will think of a word and then find the letters needed to put sounds in a row to make the word.
However, some children find it difficult to think of words to build. That’s why some parents will use Montessori language objects as writing prompts.
You can also use Montessori language objects as a hands-on early reading activity.
You'll need to gather a set of Montessori language objects that represent CVC words (e.g., pig, hen, jug, map, six, nut, jet). Include written labels in the phonetic objects box. Then invite your child to sound out each word and match it with the object.
Matching words with Montessori language objects is a really gentle way to introduce reading and offer reading practice, without putting pressure on your child to read an entire book!
If you have a selection of language miniatures that represent short phonetic words, you can keep the activity fresh by substituting some of the objects with other ones.
Once it's easy for your child to read CVC words, include some Montessori language objects that represent longer phonetic words such as bulb, nest, and gift.
Once your child has learned some advanced phonics (e.g., knows some 2+ letters that represent a single sound such as /ai/ in train), you can also create a set of Montessori language objects to match with words that are more challenging to read.
You can also use Montessori language objects to offer additional reading practice. Create a set of sentences on strips of paper that your child can read and then manipulate the objects to match the meaning of the sentence. For example, if the sentence says, "The bug is on the rock." then your child will place the bug on the rock and move the sentence strip beside it.
Are you homeschooling for preschool and kindergarten and you want to avoid worksheets? It's worth investing in a Montessori language objects starter set because you can use them to represent words in a variety of play-based early literacy games.
Here are 8 ideas to use Montessori language objects to entice your child along the journey from pre-reading to early reading:
Related Article: Where To Find Montessori Language Objects