Learning Letters With The Montessori Alphabet

Read how the Montessori way of teaching the alphabet differs from the mainstream method.
Read how the Montessori way of teaching the alphabet differs from the mainstream method.
Read how the Montessori way of teaching the alphabet differs from the mainstream method.

Learning is a natural process for kids. Children love exploration and understanding. Following the Montessori alphabet method makes the learning experience effortless and amusing. If you want your kid to learn the alphabet quickly, this technique has proven its benefits.


What is the Montessori method?


The Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori devised a method to teach children the alphabet. The order of the steps the child takes while learning determines the learning path. The little ones learn the alphabet in a gradual and tactile manner with hands-on materials. What makes it even more fun for them is to have the freedom to play with the sounds and words the way they want.

Writing requires advanced hand movement and advanced motor skills, which can hold back the toddlers from reading or making words. The introduction of a cursing alphabet and its sounds will enable them to build words long before they get writing skills. With this approach, literacy starts by teaching letter sounds. The actual learning occurs far more quickly afterward.

Using Phonemes

This method teaches kids the sounds of alphabets (phonemes) rather than their names, enabling them to work with the sounds and learn faster. It associates the letters with sounds rather than symbols. The little ones find it easier to grasp the alphabet’s sounds first than the alphabet letters (1).

For example, instead of teaching them to say ‘bee’ for the letter ‘B’, they will learn the sound ‘buh’. This way, it will be simpler for your child to connect sounds to make words than with letter names. Understanding ‘buh-ball’ rather than ‘bee-ay-el-ball’ is much simpler. Besides, your kid will also connect the ‘b’ sound to other words like ‘buh-bat’.

Grouping the Sounds

The Montessori alphabet is not taught in the typical order. Instead, sounds are divided into groups of alphabets so the kids can start making words as quickly as possible. The sets of letters show as follows:

c m a t

s r i p

b f o g

h j u l

d w e n

k q v x y z


With the first group ‘c m a t’ they can make words such as ‘cat’ or ‘mat’. The usual way ‘a b c’ doesn’t allow to make many words. The sets can vary from one Montessori school to another, but the main idea is to put letters that are easy to identify and build words with.

montessori alphabet

How to teach the Montessori alphabet?

Teaching Sounds, Regrouping ABCs & the three-period lesson.

There are many ways you can achieve sounds and regrouping. Whether by repetition games, using movable alphabet or songs. Just see what method works best for your child. The three-period lesson is commonly used to familiarize the learner with a new letter (2), according to the sets we saw earlier.

The first period is the name: “This is…”: the teacher names and describes an object. The objective is the association of the item with its sound. Repeat the name of each thing several times. It can be done with letter symbols so the kid can associate the letter with its sounds.

The second period is the recognition and association: “Show me…”: the child is active in the process: with manipulation, there’s a visual association with the object, and the names of the object get in the long-term memory.

The third period is the recall and independent learning: “What is this…”: the challenge for the child is to name the objects or tell the sound of a letter symbol on his own. This step involves proactive learning as well, rather than just simple passive listening.

Using Cursive Writing.

It is the classic approach: cursive letters flow easily and come more naturally to children than print letters. Learning cursive writing is natural for toddlers as they write with intuition, like when they draw. A single word is written together, making differentiation between words easier.

Using Tools.

Sandpaper Letters will help your kid get familiar with the shape of the letters and associate them with the letter sound. This material is comprised of lowercase letters, which are more instinctive than uppercase ones. Capital letters are introduced at a later stage. The reason is that the vast majority of the writings in use are in lowercase.

Kids trace the letters intuitively, like when drawing. Print writing learning comes more ease afterward.

After they are done with the sandpaper letters, it is time for the movable alphabets. Your child will start making words without worry for error or editing. With the following stage come the metal insets: these metal shape cut-outs that come with colour pencils learn the children about refine hand movements and pencil holding. They can draw inside / outside, fill in a different color, draw parallel lines to the shape, or even use more shapes to create their own designs.


Why should I prefer the Montessori approach to the usual method?

Montessori method empowers the kids by letting them explore their way around the alphabet themselves. Just picture those chubby little hands grabbing the new toy you just got them. They will not want you to take it away until they’re done with their investigation. This application helps them to learn signs faster.

The method enhances sensory learning.

Unlike the mainstream school approach, the Montessori method gives your kid an insight into the alphabet and its sounds. With the movable alphabet and playing games pertaining to their environment, learning is truly intuitive.

It stimulates your kid’s curiosity.

Children love making words. Achieving little milestones is often a joyful occasion for them as it is for us parents. This learning is child-centered. It develops their interest in learning as there’s no smoother way to learn than to make it entertaining.


How do I teach letters’ sounds rather than names?

Playing games with your toddler might help them understand the concept of sounds better. Just remember that all children are different and learn at their own pace.

The mystery bag game is perfect for this learning. Put small items in a bag. Your little one can sort these objects on a letter card according to their sounds.

You can also start with phonetic activities: get the young learner to guess the beginning sounds of these items. If you never played the “I spy” game, now is the chance. “I spy with my little eye something starting with a… buh!…” and your kid will enjoy showing the related objects.

What is the best order to teach the alphabet?

You don’t have to follow a precise group of letters. The reason behind grouping them differently is because your kid will be able to make words as soon as you teach them the first group. You can split up the ABCs the way you want. Just make sure that your child can make words easily with the groups you make.


When should a child be able to recognize letters?

There is no right age for your kid to be able to recognize alphabets. All kids learn at their own pace, and there is nothing to worry about if your kid is a little behind.

Most children will be able to memorize some of the ABCs by the age of two but will not be able to recognize them or connect them to their sounds. That is if they are not taught the Montessori approach. By age three or four, children learn the alphabet, and they can recognize most of the sounds. By kindergarten, your child might be able to recognize letters and their sounds and start connecting them to form basic words.


When is my child ready for a Movable Alphabet?

Moveable letters provide your kid the freedom to experiment with different sounds while making words. If your kid is familiar with some of the alphabets and their sounds, this might be the time to buy the movable alphabet. It is wise to buy the sandpaper letters first, so they are familiar with the shapes and connect them to sounds.

The movable alphabet has the vowels in blue while the consonants in pink. Working a little with vowel sounds is a good idea before the movable alphabet is introduced.

Do not interfere or even correct your kid while he or she makes up random words. Making silly words with your kids lets both of you add a little laughter to the learning experience.


The Montessori approach encourages creatives and gives space for the kid to learn reading and writing. It involves games and toys and the freedom to learn at their own pace. The alphabet is the first thing your kid will learn in school. This fun start and effective training method can do wonders for your kid and show its benefits through all the years of learning to come.


1 – Montessori primary guide: www.infomontessori.com/index.htm

2 – Montessori for everyone blog: www.blog.montessoriforeveryone.com