Tuesday, March 11, 2014

three Montessori language games for toddlers

Here are a few simple language games to play 
before introducing the alphabet...

Matching objects supports the development
of visual discrimination.

One of the principles of Montessori education is to move from 
concrete to abstract.

A three-dimensional object is more concrete than a picture,
so Elise is matching objects to other objects right now.

Eventually, she will match objects to pictures,
and finally, pictures to other pictures.

Playing sound games like "I spy"
is a great way to model beginning sound isolation
and build phonemic awareness.

/h/hat, /b/boot, and /f/feather

I spy with my little eye a...
Can you find the /b/boot?

At twenty months old, I refrain from asking Elise
"Which one starts with /b/?" or "What sound does boot begin with?"  

Instead, I try to find as many ways as I can to model 
separating the beginning sounds from words,
with the understanding that Elise will eventually catch on.  

As simple as this may be, Elise adores this game!

Learning the names of a classified group of objects
enriches vocabulary.

I often use a three period lesson to present the names of items to Elise
that she encounters in her daily life or interest her.

These are tableware.
This is a glass.
(first period)

Please hand me the glass.  Thank you!
(second period)

What is this? (pointing to the glass)
(third period)

Since Elise is under two and just beginning to say words,
 I rarely ask her third period questions
- unless I'm absolutely sure she knows the answer.

but it's still useful for her to hear
exact terminology and correct pronunciation.

(Other examples of classified vocabulary we've explored include
pets, farm animals, personal care items, and parts of the face.)


  1. I love this post, Anne! Having done the three types of matching exercises with Finn, I observed that matching picture to picture was much much easier for Finn than matching object to picture. I'd love to know what Elise finds easiest when you get there!

    1. Hi Elsa! I remember your post about the language games you were playing with Finn. I can see how matching an object to a picture would be more challenging - a three-dimensional object and a picture aren't exactly the same in the way that two objects or two pictures are. Do you follow Sixtine et Victoire on FB? Deb just posted a video of Sixtine matching objects to pictures, and it's really interesting to watch.

  2. I like that the operative word for me in this post is "before"--before teaching the alphabet that is. I was just thinking of putting up a post about pre-alphabet activities. Thanks for this, Anne. Elise is so lucky to have all these materials lovingly prepared for her.

    1. Oh, I hope you do post about pre-alpahbet activities - I'd love to have a few more in our repertoire!

  3. Thank you for sharing all those wonderful ideas! Do you have any ideas of extensions of these activities for Sixtine (she is nearing the two and a half mark)?

    1. Hi Deb! Can Sixtine isolate beginning sounds yet? For example, can she say "/d/-dog?" If so then you could play games like "I spy something that starts with a... (beginning sound)" around the house or on walks. Blending games are also fun - here's a post I did awhile ago on them: Hope this helps!


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