I am sharing my Montessori training lecture notes on language, an introduction and outline, for ages three to nine. The most important concept in early language development is that the child has to become aware that language and words are made of sounds. We achieve this with the help of the I Spy Game. The next step is to introduce the symbols that represent these sounds with the help of the Sandpaper Letters.
Dr. Montessori believed that it is important that the child expresses his or her own thought in writing, and only later on learns to read. The symbols written by someone else consequently we concentrate on strengthening the child’s ability to control the pencil by work with the Metal Insets after they have achieved mastery it is easy for them to trace the sandpaper letters. The last step in preparation for writing is the work with the Movable Alphabet. When the child is able to break a word down into its component sound and then picks out the corresponding symbols from the Movable Alphabet box. He learns to construct words. Once his writing ability has improved sufficiently, he will not be bothered to take letters out of a box but he will write the words himself. Approximately six months later the child will proceed to read back his own writing. That is when we introduce the Object Box which Dr. Montessori called "the doorway to reading".
Here the child identifies simple three-letter objects (phonetic, as in c-a-t) then proceeds to decipher the corresponding words written by the teacher. The next step are the Reading Tablets. Here the child can practice individually the process of reading by matching labels to pictures. This work is reinforced by all the materials of the Cultural Subjects which use Classified Cards. Dr. Montessori firmly believed that a child’s language development should always be related to concrete experiences. The materials of the Cultural Subjects are related to experiences which the child has enjoyed repeatedly and have been expanded by artwork. This is stared before the has started to write the names or try to read the names and definition. The Definition Booklets related to the Cultural Subject cards progressively lead the child from mechanical reading to comprehension reading concurrently with the reading experiences we introduce two very important materials: Phonogram Booklets and the Puzzle (funny) Word cards. These two materials help remove obstacles which may frustrate the child’s reading progress from phonetic reading to the reading of words which cannot be sounded out to further enhance and practice.
The child’s reading-ability Grammar Games are introduced, first the concept of the noun followed by the adjective and the article then onto the verb, adverb, conjunction, preposition and personal pronoun. All those experiences involve a lot of activities: writing, reading and the placement of grammar symbols. It is important to relate these experiences back to back with the Classified Card Definition booklets or any other language development exercises other language development exercises such as dictation, spelling, writing pretty, writing a story or an essay, punctuation, poetry and drama should also be included as well as good literature and jr. classics.
Once the grammar concepts have been assimilated by the child the Grammar Boxes can be introduced. This work leads to Sentence Analysis. Sentence Analysis should be related back to any kind of workbooks, readers or jr. magazines that the children are using at school. Introduce their own compositions. Sentence Analysis requires a change of concept and manes for the children to understand. Here we use materials called Sentence Analysis Chart & Arrows.
For example, the verbs becomes a predicate, the noun becomes a subject or object and every other word in the sentence is then diagrammed. Concurrently language and vocabulary enrichment is developed by the use of synonyms and antonyms. Use of dictionaries and encyclopedias. The children are encouraged to do their won research, write down outlines in their own words and then improve their own words by researching other expressions from the ones they have used. The appreciation of language and particularly good language, will be the outcome of the study in an age when many college students have difficulty reading or writing a paper. This endeavor is of the utmost significance.
OUTLINE FOR LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT
I Spy Game: Beginning sounds, first object in hand, other person, go out of the circle to the children, go out into the environment and lastly out of the door. Next go to ending sounds and then the middle sounds.
Point of Arrival: Ask the child “Could you please bring the ch-ai-r." I spy makes them aware of sounds. Do this everyday at circle.
Sandpaper Letters: These are introduced only after the child has done the I Spy Game and is aware that language is made up of sounds.
1. Pick a child “What does you name start with? S… Would you like to see a picture of S? This is a picture of S (auditory and visual) and this is how it moves (tactile)." Pick two other names. "Can you think of other words that start with S?"
Ask each child.
2. Give 3 period lesson.
3. Write on square paper: hold S.P. sound with left hand, trace with two fingers of right hand, say sound. Pick up pencil and write sound on first square. Repeat.
Do contrasting letters.
Circle: After I Spy, sing names, sing a-b-c song and point to symbols and sing it. Lastly, point to the sound and ask “What is this?” To reinforce I Spy use cultural subject cards, vocabulary words (b – bay…).
Movable Alphabet (make simple three-letter words): need to have practiced writing their letters, know I Spy, sand paper sounds, and breaking down a word by sounds. Open MA box, sing ABC song. Check each letter (in MA box) to see if they know the sound: “What is this?” Next: “We will try to make the word cat." (Sing ABC song to find letter.)
"Cat, what is the middle sound... a. Ending sound... t. Do more a words if child is interested. This is the concrete experiences of expressing their thoughts. The spiritual aspects of writing is answering your own thoughts, breaking it down into sounds, and expressing it with symbols.
Writing with Squared Paper: Fold to make a book. write letter in squares from left to right. Metal Insets can be introduced for control of pencil in writing. Cultural Subject Cards can be used for tracing labels and pictures.
1. Use same words as the ones in the movable alphabet lessons (no erasing, cross it out instead).
2. Use three words with same ending: cat, fat, mat... then jam, bam, Sam...
3. Next day do a contrasting vowel.
Object Box: Reading:
1. Use after child has written a lot.
2. One is expressing his or her own thoughts and feelings by translating his/her own words into sounds and writing down symbols, start from yourself.
1. First, child makes letters with tails (exaggerated lines)
2. Next, child makes words
3. Lastly connect letters in the words
4. Can take work already done and rewrite in cursive
5. Can use square paper and start with a, b, c, d, e...
2. Story with title, beginning, middle and ending
5. Correct their stories and then child rewrites correctly
6. Eventually they need to write a story on their own using the above
The child has to take someone else’s symbols, change them into sounds, connect sounds, and make into a word and give meaning to that word.
1. Concrete experience of reading
2. Done individually
1. Always start with a sound first
2. Done individually
3. Write words
Phonograms with Movable Alphabet:
1. Can be done in a group
2. Write words
1. Spelling work
2. Write words
3. Pictures with these sounds and object box
1. Write them
Classified Cards with labels and mute of different subjects:
1. Write them
Cut Up Nursery Rhymes:
1. Write them
Definition Booklets of Cultural Subjects
1. Label the farm animals, then make their own
Labeling the Environment:
1. Leads into grammar games which are reading exercises
Concept of Noun with Farm Animals:
1. “Lisa, give me…”
“Give you what?”
“What word told you what I wanted?”
2. “Give me the thing."
"I can’t! I need a name.”
3. “You have a name, can’t say, Hey you.”
4 All things have names. Look at a thing and give me the name.
5. Names of things are nouns.
6. Refine to labeling farm and environment, "Remember, those things are nouns.”
Roses Adjective Game – The family of Nouns
Farm Animal Labels of Adjectives, Nouns, and Articles:
1. Write it down, phrases, and draw symbols on top.
Logical Adjective Game
Conjunctions with Roses
1. Label and write signs, the brown cow and the pink pig…
Preposition Vase with Roses
1. It added something to what you are doing
Go back to Cultural Subjects Definition Booklets and read them
Grammar Boxes – function of words