The Montessori MOVABLE ALPHABET is used to build words and comes BEFORE reading. Age: 4 to 5-year-olds.
"In reading readiness, we start with writing. In writing the child expresses the known quantity that is her own thought with the help of symbols. Reading is the reverse process. Here the child takes somebodyelse's symbols, translates them into sounds which then are connected to make words and sense."--Ursula Thrush, Cosmic Education-The Red Book.
Children can be writing their letters, know I Spy (first, last, middle sounds of words), sandpaper sounds, and breaking down a word by sounds. Lots of (Google) images here!
"The movable alphabet aids in the spiritual aspect of writing. The movable alphabet allows the child to express his thoughts even though he does not know how to write yet. The child has analyzed the sound which makes up word in the I Spy Game. He has absorbed their concrete forms in the symbols with the sandpaper letters. And, now, he recognizes these forms in the graphic symbols of the moveable alphabet. With these symbols he is able to form words without having the ability to write yet. Then when he has acquired the physical ability to reproduce the correct form of symbol, he explodes into writing."--Ursula Thrush, Cosmic Education-The Red Book.
You may also like Montessori Read and Write and or my recommended list of books for reading and phonics (on Amazon.com).
DIY and Movable Alphabet Lessons and Letters
1. Free Moveable Alphabet lesson with nice phonetic word list at the bottom and free "Excercises for the Moveable Alphabet" from Montessori Mom.
2. $ Make your own (print and cut and laminate) letters and picture cards from Montessori-Print-Shop
3. $$ Small Moveable Alphabet Plastic Letters from Montessori N' Such.
4. $$ Montessori Outlet has several wooden Movable Alphabet letters, the best one is #510400090 "Small Movable Alphabet (Print, Mix Blue & Red)". They also have a frequent buyer program, so make sure to register before you buy (and log in each time you return).
5. $ DIY Movable Aphabet from Criss-Cross Applesauce using dry lima beans!
DIY and Movable Alphabet Cards
Printable PDF cards for Movable Alphabet from Little Blossoms and Sparklebox for Faith.
Here are some phonetic picture cards for a great price, laminated, from Montessori Research and Develpoment. You would use just the pictures for the moveable alphabet (for spelling), and move on later to the classified reading cards using these in full (for reading) with labels!
For more on MAKING MONTESSORI MATERIALS, including Montessori language, join Montessori Material Makers, "A place to help you make Montessori materials." This is an active group that started in 2002 and has 4500 members!