Have you been thinking about doing more educational activities with your young kids at home? Maybe you now that you’ve got a preschooler or kindergartener you want to help them practice what they’re learning at home. Or maybe they’ll be home with you this year and you’d like some tools to help you teach the basics. Montessori-style learning is perfect when you are looking for a hands-on educational activity.
One of my kids’ favorite Montessori activities was “Word Building.” My kids enjoyed it so much at school that I made a DIY version for us to have at home and you can, too. Your child will get to work on letter recognition, beginning reading, spelling and writing. My daughter loved this activity when she was 3 and just starting at Montessori and my son still enjoyed this activity in 1st grade, so I think that 3 to about 6 or 7 are great ages for this activity.
Here’s how it works. Kids pick out a few small objects and match them up to printed words with the names of the objects. Then, they choose letters from a “movable alphabet” and lay them out to spell each word next to the printed version. Once they’ve spelled the word with the movable alphabet, they can trace or write the word with pencil and paper.
Here’s your supply list:
- Set of lower case letter beads like this one.
- Bead sorter with at least 26 slots so you have one for each letter of the alphabet. I got mine at Michaels.
- Fun buttons or other small objects.
- Paper & Pencil
- Optional: Tracing font. Get a free one here.
Step 1: Sort all your lower case letter beads and organize them alphabetically in the bead sorter. My kids had tons of fun digging through the big box of letters and finding the right spot for each in the sorter.
Step 2: Choose several small objects that will spark your child’s interest. We used fancy buttons from a $7 pack from Hobby Lobby. Depending on your child’s age and reading ability, you can choose items with very easy to read names like ball, hat, cat, etc. or more complex words like butterfly or umbrella. With one older child and one younger, I have a mix of both.
Step 3: Create a page with the names of each of the items. You can hand write or type them. I usually type them and use at least a 30 point font so it’s nice and big. That way it’s easy for kids to match up to the letter beads. Cut out each word, so it’s on a small strip of paper easy for little hands to handle. Make a second identical page with the tracing font. Cut those as well. If installing a new font is a little too complicated, you can hand draw dotted versions for the kids to trace. Or, if your child is already good at forming letters, you can skip the tracing altogether and just have blank paper ready.
Now you and your kids are ready to get going on this activity!
First, have your child choose an object, then tell you what it’s called. Let them try to choose the paper that has the name of the object on it. For a pre-reader, help if they need it. For example, looking at duck, you could prompt your child by showing her two or three word options and saying, “Which word starts with a d?”
Then, once your child has the word paper, it’s time for him or her to choose letter beads that match up to the paper. My little girl got pretty excited when she had “spelled” a new word on her own.
When your kiddo has spelled the word, then they can take the tracing paper that matches it or a blank piece of paper and pencil and write the word.
Montessori School is full of fun and educational activities like this one. If you like the hands-on learning style and are looking for a great preschool, I wholeheartedly recommend Montessori School of Iowa City in Coralville. My daughter referred to it as “the wonderfulest place ever” while she was in school there – you can’t get a much higher endorsement than that. And, from a parent’s perspective, I don’t think you could ask for a better early childhood education experience. My kids learned everything from how to put on and zip their coats independently to how to make a map of Latin America. And, they had fun doing it and were so proud of themselves with every accomplishment. You can’t help but be impressed by all that your child can accomplish when guided by the school’s fantastic and caring teachers!
*Note: This is not a sponsored post. Montessori School of Iowa City is just so awesome that I think everyone should know about them!