I'm really excited about introducing sandpaper letters to Bear! They are such a classic and beautiful Montessori material. I bought these sandpaper letters a long time ago and have been waiting patiently for the right time to introduce them to Bear.
I started by learning about the sandpaper letters myself. I have found lots of helpful information from Montessori Read and Write, montessoriworld.org and montessoriforeveryone.com. Despite reading and reading and reading I feel like I have only scratched the surface of what there is to know. I still feel quite unprepared to teach this boy!
However I am prepared to keep learning along the way!!
Next I choose a time and place to present the sandpaper letters to Bear. This area is usually where Fox's toys are kept. When Fox goes down for a sleep after lunch I pack a few things away to make space. Bear stays up with me for another hour or so before he has a nap too. We get this hour long window on the 4 days when I'm not at work. I've been getting out the sandpaper letters 1 or 2 days per week in this time.
This has become a special time for me and Bear. It is far enough away from Fox that we can chat without waking him. Bear gets to enjoy some exclusive attention which is lovely for both of us. It is not a perfect time for Montessori because he is usually tired from a busy morning and sometimes he is just not interested. Sometimes I'm just not interested either. But sometimes it works and it's perfect.
The space has become special too. It is transformed into a Bear's very own Montessori preschool. Bear doesn't use this space much at other times during the day so getting out these special materials makes it just for him and gives the materials a very special quality. He is free in this space to choose what he does. I don't put any pressure on him to sit with me if that's not what he's ready for.
The actual lesson has been the hardest part - for me because it requires knowing how to present it and for Bear because he has to submit to being taught. Montessori materials are not allowed to be used unless the child has received a lesson. The materials are to be used in a specific way. The teacher needs to show the child how.
Bear has submitted to lessons (much to my surprise, relief, gratitude, and pride!). He has submitted because these materials are so special. Because this time is for the two of us to spend together. Because he is so interested in sounds and letters right at the moment. Because he can't help but touch them!
Once he has submitted to a lesson he is free to use them as much or as little as he likes.
I have lured Bear to have a lesson by choosing 3 letters, sitting at his table with them and tracing them myself with great interest. He has come to investigate straight away each time.
The 3 letters are contrasting in shape and sound. I have selected from the sounds he can say (m, n, h, ng, w, d, y, b, a, e, i, o, u) or the sound he is working on. I will include phonograms too but they are yet to arrive in the mail.
While Bear watches I trace the letter as it is written saying the phonetic sound 'buh this is buh'. Once he has watched he is invited to have a turn 'Would you like to trace buh.' Then move on to the 2nd and 3rd letters. Once he has traced each of them we move on to the 2nd period 'can you show me buh?' and the 3rd period which one is this. We don't often reach the 3rd period.
The next time we play it is with 3 new letters regardless of Bear's progress with the 3 introduced last time. The ones he hasn't mastered will come back out again soon enough.
At the beginning Bear snatched the letters from me. I explained that they are not for snatching they are for tracing and had to pack them away (much to his fury). Once that lesson was learned he would insist on tracing them upside down. I explained that they are not to go upside down they are to go the right way up and had to pack them away again (more fury). Since accepting that there are rules to this game he has chosen to play over and over again.
Once Bear has had a lesson with a sound it can go on the shelf for him to choose freely. At the moment they are only displayed when Fox is asleep. Some fit on this book shelf. Others go in the beautiful wooden storage boxes that they came in on the shelf. Bear loves to sort through them one by one and make a big pile of them. He loves to point out their different features - this one has a tail, this one is the cross where Jesus died, this one is an aeroplane, this one is mmm for mcdonalds.
He has been quick to pick up their sounds but is still very clumsy tracing them. But there's no hurry - he has 3 years to explore these materials.
My name is Vicky I am wife to Ranger and mum to two boys - Bear (2) and Fox (8 months). Somehow I stumbled across Montessori and now my goal is to raise and educate my children with a Montessori philosophy in country NSW Australia.