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Montessori in a Minute: Sound Baskets

The Sound Baskets are a unique Montessori material used to support early language development. Our teachers use these baskets as a hands-on way to introduce phonetic sounds and set the stage for reading and writing. They are straightforward, effective, and tailored to the child's developmental stage and individual learning pace.

 

The Montessori approach to teaching the alphabet differs at the youngest age level. Instead of teaching the “Alphabet Song” and the rote memorization of the alphabetic order of A through Z, letters are introduced in sets, prioritizing an order of letters that allow children to make words. 


Examples:

  • The first basket is usually ”c, m, a, t,” giving children the ability to create words like “cat,” “mat,” and “at.” These sets also prioritize ease of learning, so a sound basket will not have look-alike letters like “d” and “b” in it since children often get the two confused.

  • Another way to use the material is for a teacher to present a child with the basket for the sound “a” and name each object inside, such as an “apple,” “ant,” and “arrow.” These baskets enable teachers to give students word games and other activities to grow their understanding of that letter.




How Do Sound Baskets Work?The Sound Baskets are a sensorial material engaging touch, vision and sound. They include Sandpaper Letters for children to trace with their fingers as they produce the phonemic sound that the letter represents, plus tiny objects with the corresponding beginning sound. These objects are typically everyday items that children can easily identify and name, like a miniature apple for the sound “a” or a toy car for the sound “c.” Children interact with the material by laying out the letter card and then placing the object beside the correct card. 


Matching familiar objects to letters that make the same phonetic sounds and connecting the sounds with the look of letters is a crucial step in developing literacy skills. This activity enhances phonemic awareness and allows children to recognize and isolate the sounds that make up words. It also unlocks a child’s ability to start spelling words phonetically before mastering how to hold a pencil.


As a child learns multiple sound baskets and approaches mastery of a basket, a teacher might ask the child to find all objects that start with the sound “a” from a mixed collection of objects. Teachers can extend the lesson by asking for the “ending” sound or, in the case of vowels, the “middle” sound.


The Importance of the Sound Baskets

Using Sound Baskets has so many benefits for children:


  • Naming objects in the baskets helps children expand their vocabulary and deeply understand these words. 

  • Handling the miniatures develops the fine motor skills necessary for writing. Children also make a lasting kinesthetic connection to a sound by engaging their sense of touch.

  • Memory help: As children learn to read, they can recall their sound baskets as a quick reference point to bridge a letter to a sound.

  • Strengthens visual and auditory discrimination by matching, sorting, and distinguishing between different sounds and associating them with corresponding objects. This skill helps children differentiate between similar-sounding words.

  • Building words: As children start to connect the sound and its written representation, the child becomes ready for consonant-vowel-consonant words and the Moveable Alphabet, building words phonetically or by sounding them out.


The Montessori in a Minute Series

The Montessori In A Minute series regularly explores the unique benefits of Montessori philosophy, its fundamental materials, and areas of the classroom. For all parents at Hudson Montessori School (Jersey City, New Jersey), the school hosts Parent Education Nights every year to teach parents about the Montessori method and how the students learn curriculum components using a Montessori framework.


Contact us to learn more about Hudson Montessori School's theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for children aged 2 to eighth grade.



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