Introducing alphabets the Montessori way with Skola Sandpaper letters

In Montessori education, alphabet letters are introduced by phonetic sounds rather than letter names. We can also teach by whole language or rato but in the long run, it may not be successful. I will be talking about sandpaper letters as an approach to introduce letters of the alphabets.

If you are new to phonics and would like to understand how, why and when to begin you must read this useful article by The Dreamer Mum HERE 

Why is teaching sounds of the letter (Phonetics) a better method to introduce alphabets?

When children know the sounds of the letter instead of the name of the letters they can read words more fluently and easily. Phonetics will also eventually help them to write independently. It’s basically a way to build the language foundation and thereon moving to pre-writing skills.

There are few tips to note while introducing phonics sound and preparing for pre-writing skills

  1. Firstly if you plan to begin phonics you will have to prepare and learn the phonics sounds yourself. Take few minutes a day to practice it. It is advisable to take coaching from a trained professional so you are well equipped to do for your child.
  2. Do I teach alphabets in an order? – Fun fact is you can introduce alphabets in any order. Ideally, its introduced in an order that allows the child to make many words with the letters he or she has learned. Most kids love to learn the first letter of their own name.
  3. Uppercase/lowercase – It is suggested to start with lowercase letters as eventually we also use lowercase for writing.
  4. Whats the best age to introduce phonics – what we call a Montessori sensitive period in a child just like a milestone is 2.5-4 years when they show a keenness to learn letters and their sound. Nonetheless, if you are observant you may know when your child is willing to learn/absorb this new knowledge.
  5. Cursive vs. Print? You can begin with either but most Montessori schools use cursive in all their teaching material. Here are some benefits of teaching cursive first
  • It’s to be noted that cursive is a more natural way of writing.
  • Words written in cursive are clearly separated from each other. Run-on words are not as common in cursive.
  • The child who can read cursive can also read the manuscript, but the reverse is not true.
  • Cursive is also a better exercise for strengthening fine motor skills. The connecting letters help the child to produce smooth, rather than choppy, strokes with the pencil.

But print is widely used and also much easier to identify them. There is no right or wrong choice, just a preference for your child and you.

You can begin with reading books at 0+ as a part of language development and pre-writing. Also, introduce shape puzzles is an excellent way to teach them shapes and dimensions.

Since my daughter is in a Montessori School, I try and follow their curriculum as much as possible. The Montessori principle suggests to work on alphabet sounds and slowly progress to introducing alphabet symbols. Kenisha it turning 2.5 and I can see her strong interest to learn alphabets and sounds. I was very excited to receive the Skola Sandpaper letters at this perfect time for our lessons in coming months.

What are Skola Sandpaper letters?

Simply put, they are like flash cards generally made from thick cardstock or thin wood with a letter embossed on them using sandpaper. The embossed letter allows the child to quite literally feel the letter as they run their fingers over the card. These help to gain a muscular memory of the shape of the letters as a prelude to writing.

How are these useful?

These are excellent as in early years a child’s sense of touch is very sharp and the enjoy feeling textures and objects. Tracing leads to building muscle memory of the shapes of the letters which is a much more effective way to learn when compared to rote, or by merely seeing or saying.

The quality of the Skola sandpaper letters in the cursive set is excellent. It is made up of thick cardboard that comes in a perfect wooden base. this base can later be used for tracing with salt or sand. We also received a small pack of wax crayons. The instruction sheet is very well written and can guide parents to start with their Skola journey. Priced at Rs.945 it will make a perfect investment as an educational toy.

sandpaper letters

We loved our Skola Toys and Highly Recommend them

Each toy on the Skola website has a detailed description to help parents understand its role in your child’s development. For example, they have shared the Montessori phonetics sound video for this Sandpaper Letters Toy HERE

In case you missed, do check out my last post about STEM learning and Pre STEM toys by Skola. They have an amazing range of toys for your child’s learning journey. High-quality wooden toys that make learning fun and early education a breeze for parents. that’s a Skola promise

Visit their website to check out their complete range – www.skola.toys

 

STEM learning and Pre-STEM Toys by Skola

Being a parent means to stay ahead on all aspects. Especially on your child’s development and education. As an early learning enthusiast, I keep reading and researching new topics and this time I came across STEM learning. Though STEM learning is for kids aged 7 plus I was intrigued to know more and how it can be incorporated at an early stage to help preschoolers build a strong foundation.

What is STEM Learning?

STEM is a curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s a term initiated by the National Science Foundation, refers to an educational approach which integrates more than one of these disciplines.

Individually these may look like lofty subjects for tiny preschoolers. However, in reality, children are already exposed and engaging to STEM activities indoors and outdoors. With further guidance from us, they can actually learn and develop critical thinking skills.

Why is STEM important?

Science is all around us. Technology is fast growing and slowing taking over our day to day aspects of our lives. Engineering is the very basic design we see on the roads or bridges or when we talk about environmental changes. Mathematics is a part every occupation and every activity we do on daily basis.

Exposing children at a young age to STEM learning and allowing them to explore the concept of STEM may spark the passion for these subjects. Further, it may lead them to pursue a career in the STEM field.

Undoubtedly STEM learning can be very beneficial in a child’s overall academic growth. By developing early critical thinking and reasoning skills, it also enhances later interest in STEM study and careers.

STEM Activities for Pre Schoolers

So how do we encourage the little ones to explore STEM learning concepts? Here are some simple ideas to get you a hang of things. As you explore, you will understand how easy it is, in reality, to incorporate STEM learning in everything our children do and learn.

  1. Building blocks can help children make towers and bridges – incorporating maths and engineering.
  2. Cooking together – this is the most basic skill that can teach the concept of science, technology, and even maths!
  3. Explore the grocery – go shopping and pick some fruits and vegetables. Ask your toddler to predict what will be inside. With supervision allow him/her to cut into pieces and discuss the color, texture and have a tasting session. This would be perfect for maths and science.
  4. Water Play – The opportunity to play and learn are endless! Teaching floating objects, transferring with a ladle, mixing colors to teach tertiary colors. There are so many ways to play.

You will be amazed at the possibilities of STEM learning. Children are little explorers and love to experiment, combine new substances, build, knock down, collect, sort and of course have a lot of fun while playing. Until I read about STEM learning I didn’t realize we were already engaging in so many STEM activities already without knowing about them.

Pre-STEM Toys by Skola

Once you have tried a few home-based DIY activities your child will soon be ready to play with pre -STEM Toys.

I had introduced you to Skola toys in my last blog

Skola Toys believe that play leads to exploration, exploration leads to discovery and discovery leads to learning. Their learning journeys through play have some of the best Pre STEM learning toys for incorporating early childhood education.

It’s a welcome sight to see some of our Indian homegrown brands like Skola to help in Pre-STEM learning which is primarily preparing a child for STEM learning which is a multi-sensory experience. Their toys are well thought through and each toy helps to improve their overall development skills right from fine motor skills which certainly helps in engineering, but more importantly using fingers helps children think clearly and enhances concentration and cognitive ability which is directly a STEM requirement.

Here are few of their toys that I really liked

STEM Learning

Cascade Cars

This is a wonderful toy to help a child to understand cause and effect. This is where a child is exposed to science. It helps a child to register process and comprehend.

Following the movement of the car improves visual tracking among children, which is essential for improving their reading skills and abilities while playing any physical sport. This toy also leads to awareness of motion and movement as children watch and analyze the movements of the cars as they roll down the slopes. As they push the cars further or hold them back, they understand the impact of their actions on the speed, motion and time factors of the cars. As children place, move and stop the cars, they also enhance their fine motor skills.

stem learning

Colour wheels

This toy encourages children to use fingers to rotate wheels and then find the matching colours which involve an examination, observation analysis, and discovery.

As children begin to sort different shades of colours, it magnifies their understanding of colour at a very young age. It enhances their visual discrimination skills and makes them aware of the comparison between colours. Naming the shades and tints of various colours and arranging them in a specific order makes them notice even minute differences in colour shades. One of the most exciting challenges this toy poses is when the children have to match shades by memory. And this exercises their mind in a way that significantly enhances their cognitive ability. The simple act of using their hands to rotate the wheels and locking them in place enhances their eye-hand coordination.

I love how each and every toy at the Skola website has a clear description, helping parents understand the various skill it helps the child to develop. This process is true for all Skola Toys and hence creates thinkers.