Language Learning Materials in Montessori Education

In this article we help you learn about the key materials and activities for language development in Montessori education. Let us remember that, in Montessori pedagogy, it is known for its individualized approach and its emphasis on hands-on and sensory learning. Therefore, the materials created for the Language Area They provide children with a tangible, manipulative experience that develops a deep understanding of language concepts.

Key materials and activities for language development

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Key materials for language learning in Montessori education

Montessori Sound Box or Tray

This material consists of a series of cards with images of objects that begin with different sounds. The child selects a card, names the object in the picture, and then identifies the beginning sound of the word. Then look for other cards that also represent words with the same beginning sound.

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In Montessori education, the sound tray is usually introduced when children are around 2 1/2 or 3 years of age. At this age, children have already developed some ability to identify and distinguish different sounds. The sound tray helps them further develop their phonemic awareness and their ability to associate sounds with letters and words.

It is important to note that the exact age may vary depending on the individual development of the child. In the Montessori approach, the pace of each child is respected and the introduction of the materials is adapted according to their abilities and level of interest. Montessori educators are trained to observe signs of readiness of the child and present the right materials at the right time.

sound cylinders

These boxes contain small objects that make a specific sound when shaken. Each box represents an initial sound of a word. The idea is that the child shakes each box and associates the sound with the letter or initial sound it represents. This material helps develop listening and phonetic skills, as well as awareness of the different sounds in words.

sound cylinders

sandpaper letters

These letters are made of sandpaper, allowing the child to explore the shapes and textures of the letters while tracing them with their fingers. By touching and following the outline of the letters, children develop a sensory connection to the written symbols and prepare for writing and reading.

The choice of sandpaper for sandpaper letters in Montessori education is based on several factors. First, the rough texture that provides a unique tactile experience that helps children develop a sensory connection to the letters. By tracing with their fingers on the sandpaper surface, children experience feedback from their senses that allows them to explore and recognize letter shapes more effectively.

Sandpaper letters, key materials and activities for language development

Although sandpaper is the material traditionally used in sandpaper letters in Montessori pedagogy, variants or adaptations may be found in some contexts. Ultimately, the choice of materials may change to other similar materials that provide a rough texture, such as felt or embossed materials, to achieve a sandpaper-like effect.

It is important to mention that, as with any Montessori material, the use of the sandpaper letters is supervised by a trained educator. The educator will guide the child in how to touch and explore the letters in an appropriate way, making sure that they are used safely and without causing discomfort or injury to the fingers.

movable letters

These letters are small tokens or tiles that are used to build words. Children select individual letters and place them in order to form words. This helps them understand the relationship between letters and sounds, and gives them a tactile and kinesthetic experience building words.

Movable letters, key materials and activities for language development

Movable letters are a key material that allows the learning process to escalate:

  • Sound correspondence: At first, children can use the movable letters to practice matching sounds and letters. For example, they may be presented with a picture of an object, such as a cat, and asked to choose the movable letters that correspond to the initial sound of the word "cat" and place them in order.
  • Word formation: As children become more skilled, picture cards can be presented and they are asked to use the movable letters to form the words that correspond to those pictures. For example, they can be shown a card with a picture of a dog on it and asked to use the movable letters to make the word 'dog'.
  • Construction of sentences: In a next phase, they can be encouraged to use the movable letters to build simple sentences. For example, they may be given a card with a picture on it and asked to use the movable letters to form a sentence describing the picture.

These are just a few activities to illustrate how learning can be scaled with movable letters. As children gain more skills, additional challenges may present themselves. The goal is for children to develop fluency in reading and writing through gradual and systematic practice with movable letters.

Reading books

Reading books in the Montessori approach are designed with simple and clear text, using words and phrases that children can easily read and understand. These books allow children to practice their reading skills, fostering their autonomy and confidence in the process.

Some examples of books that are used in Montessori education to support the development of skills in reading, writing and other areas of learning:

  • “Montessori letter work” by Bobby George and June George: This Spanish version of the book “Montessori Letter Work” presents the letters of the alphabet in a clear and simple format, just like in the original English version.
  • "Montessori number work" by Bobby George and June George: This Spanish version of the book “Montessori: Number Work” introduces children to numbers and basic math concepts, just like the English version.

It is important to note that the Montessori approach values the selection of books that are appropriate for each child's level of development and individual interests.

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Montessori education also focuses on the use of language in practical situations of daily life. Children engage in meaningful conversation, book reading, writing, and word play. This encourages the development of vocabulary, oral and written expression, and promotes a positive attitude towards language learning.


Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius by Angeline Stoll Lillard
The Montessori Method, by Maria Montessori
The Essential Montessori by Elizabeth Hainstock

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