I made my own version of the Montessori moveable alphabet about a month or two ago to supplement my daughter's lessons in school. I love that this moveable alphabet prepares children for reading, writing and spelling, and that they can touch and feel the letters with their fingers as they sound out the letters.
The letters of the Montessori moveable alphabet that they use at school are wooden and come in two colors - red for consonants and blue for vowels. At first, I was thinking of using board paper but changed my mind as I imagined creases or tears on the paper letters after each use. Foam boards would have been another option but I did not have enough in two colors so I used felt fabric instead. I did not have blue or red felt on-hand so I decided to use the purple and pink felt I had in storage.
I just guesstimated the sizes of the letters, trying my best to make them identical to the actual moveable alphabet she works with at school. The short lowercase letters (a, c, e, i, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, z) came out to be 1.5" tall. Widths varied as there are wider letters ( like m and w) but the others are mostly 1.5" wide. The tall/long lowercase letters (b, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, p, q, t, y) turned out to be 2.5" tall with varying widths as well.
I made five (5) of each vowel and four (4) of each consonant.
I tried looking for plastic containers with 26 compartments but only found the one in photo below. This was actually my second purchase. The first one was even smaller. This worked better than the first since the compartments were 2.5" in height so the tall letters fit snugly into each compartment. I just improvised on the lack of width space, squeezing in more than two letters in snug spaces (like i, j and k or the letters in the last two compartments) - this is not very ideal though as the letters get mixed up when the container is not upright (still best to find a container with 26 or more compartments).
For the CVCs, I drew some simple, cartoony things and animals on 4"x6" blank index cards which look like these:
Watch this video from a month ago of our little one working on the moveable alphabet ( I love the part where she giggles, realizing she mixed up the letters).
Some pointers if you do decide to make your own moveable alphabet out of felt:
- You may print out enlarged letters in a font similar to those of the moveable alphabet (Montessori D'Nelian-type font) to serve as your guide in cutting the lowercase letters. Berlin sans is one font option.
- You may also print pictures of CVCs from the web instead of drawing your own.
- Lowercase letters b, d and p are identical so you can use one stencil or guide for cutting out these three letters.
- Lowercase letters u and n are identical in shape as well but note that letter u is a vowel and n, a consonant, so use the same stencil or guide but use different colored felt.
- Use a container with compartments that have ample space for all the letters.
- Glue gun one of each letter into its compartment to encourage packing away after each spelling activitiy.
- Sneak in the uppercase letter of the first letter of your child's name for spelling practice (I snuck in a big letter T for our little girl)!
- MontessoriMom has a very helpful step-by-step guide on how to best use the moveable alphabet! Do check it out!
- Have fun!