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Sample Lessons

Phonetic Sounds Reference Sheet
This sheet contains examples of simple words that can be used in presentations of phonetic sounds. Present the initial letters as they sound in the words shown: for example, “a as in apple,” “b as in bat,” and so on...

a apple o octopus
b bat p pig
c cat q* queen
d dog r rat
e elf s snake
f frog t teacher
g gum u umbrella
h hat v violin
i igloo w watch
j jet x** x-ray
k kite y yellow
l lemon z zipper
m mom *for q, make the sound “kw.”
n nut **for x, make the sound “cks.”

Source: Language Arts for Preschoolers, by Dale Gausman, North American Progressive Montessori Teacher Training Program, 1998. Used with permission.

Language Activities: Introduction

General Points to Remember about Presenting Language Activities

  • Make sure to present similar phonetic sounds with an interval of several days in between each. For example, if you present words starting with the “d” sound one day, do not present words starting with the “b” sound the next, because they sound so alike. That is, let the child practice and learn to identify the “d” sound before you introduce “b.”

  • Take advantage of sounds the child makes naturally at her/his level of development. For example, from three to six months old, most children can make vowel sounds (a,e,i,o,u). From six to ten months, most children add more vowel sounds and begin to repeat sounds (for example, “da-da-da-da,” “ma-ma,” “ba-ba”), especially if encouraged to repeat the sounds. At six to ten months, most children also makes their first consonant sounds. Around the world, these are m, p, b, t, and d. For this reason, words starting with m, p, b, t, or d are especially good for first presentations of phonetic sounds.

  • To help the child focus, speak slowly, clearly and quietly.

  • Remember that language is not only talking. Touch, facial expressions and singing are also important ways of communicating with children.
Summary of Language Activities for Twos
The following language activities give the two opportunities to
  • develop and expand vocabulary
  • name parts of the human body
  • recognize and practice phonetic sounds
  • become familiar with the words for numbers and what they represent
  • organize information
  • identify and name objects
  • develop pre-reading skills
  • practice listening skills
  • use creativity and imagination.

Language Activity 4: Naming Objects Starting with the Same Phonetic Sound

Primary Goal
Practicing specific phonetic sounds.

Secondary Goals
Developing concentration and fine motor skills.

Work mat.
Drawstring bag containing five real or real-looking miniature objects, each starting with the same phonetic sound and described by words of two or more syllables. Choose objects that are as true to life as possible. Since you are presenting sounds in this activity, make sure that the objects you present are not all the same color or even similar colors. Ideas for objects: insects, fruit, vegetables, farm animals, jungle animals, clothing, household items, musical instruments, vehicles, plants and flowers. For example, five objects starting with the b sound (pronounced “buh,” not “bee”) could include the following: button, basket, balloon, bubbles, bear.

  • This activity appeals particularly to the interests and abilities of twos 27–30 months old.

  • In advance, put the objects into the drawstring bag.

  • Ask the child to get the work mat and put it in a place you specify.

  • With the child, get the prepared bag and place it on the work mat.

  • Sit facing the child with the bag between you.
  • Announce the focus of the activity. For example, say: “All the objects in this bag start with the same sound: b. Let’s see what’s inside.” Speak slowly and clearly.

  • Take the first object out of the bag, then return the bag to the work mat. Hold the object in your hand and name it. For example, say: “This is a ...button. The word button begins with the sound b. B-utton.” Make sure to pronounce the beginning letter as it sounds, not as it would be read—for example, “buh,” not “bee.”

  • Invite the child to say the word. For example, say: “Now you say button.”

  • Wait in silence for the child to say the word.

  • If the child says the word or tries to say the word—for example: “–utton ”—simply
    smile and repeat: “Yes, button.” It is important not to correct the child by saying, for example: “No” or “That’s not quite right.”

  • If the child keeps trying and seems to be enjoying the activity, continue focusing on the word. If the child shows frustration or resistance, move on to the next object.

  • If the child reaches for the object without speaking, let her/him hold and examine it. Once the child has examined the object, repeat the name of the object. For example, say: “The word button begins with the sound b. B-utton. Now you say it.”

  • Once the child has named or attempted to name the first object, take the second object out of the bag. Again hold the object in your hand and speak slowly and clearly as you name it, then invite the child to name it. For example, say: “Here is another object that starts with the sound b. This is a ...basket. B-asket. Now you say it.”

  • Repeat until you and the child have named all the objects and placed them on the work mat. Move the bag aside.

  • Invite the child to name objects you specify. Hold each object up, one at a time. Do not follow the same order you used the first time. As the child names or attempts to name the object, repeat the word. For example, say: “Yes, balloon begins with the sound b. Balloon.”

  • After the child has named all the objects, return them to the bag and invite the child to continue. For example, say: “Now you look at the b objects.”

  • Once the child starts focusing on the objects in the bag, get up quietly and allow the child to work undisturbed.

  • When the child has finished the activity, encourage the child to return all the objects to the bag, then return the work mat and bag to their proper places. If necessary, do these tasks with the child. This completes the activity.

  • Make sure that the materials presented stay available—on a low shelf, for example —for the child to work with again when she/he wishes.

Extension 1
  • As the child acquires experience and skill with the objects representing one phonetic sound, introduce new objects starting with that sound. However, make sure that you do not change the objects so often and so quickly that the child does not have time to repeat the activity and internalize the lesson.
Extension 2
  • As the child’s experience and language skill develops, gradually increase the number of objects. Example: button; basket; balloon; bubbles; bear; butterfly; binoculars; bookmark.

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