Montessori Language: Curriculum and Materials for Success (2023)

The Montessori language approach is a very specific, structured approach to language learning that varies from many traditional methods. While the ultimate goals of writing and reading literacy remain the same, the Montessori approach likely differs from that which most are familiar.

Whether your child will be attending a Montessori school or you are simply hoping to learn more about teaching reading or writing at home, the Montessori language approach provides valuable insight into how children learn.

Montessori Language Philosophy

Before diving into learning or teaching, it’s important to understand the history of how this very structured method came to fruition.

Maria Montessori, the creator of what is now known as “the Montessori method” was a scientist who spent a great deal of time studying and interacting with children of all ages and backgrounds. Through her observations, she came to believe that children are born with everything they need to develop language.

However, she discovered that reading and writing must be taught. The Montessori language philosophy emphasizes the initial need for children to be exposed to language from the beginning of their life. As children grow, a variety of materials are used to help children develop the skills they need to read and write.

How is language taught in Montessori?

The Montessori language approach is very structured. Language is approached in a very methodical manner, beginning from birth and continuing throughout a child’s education. When children are born, Montessori parents and teachers prioritize exposing children to a variety of language.

Once children are a few years old and beginning to show an interest, parents and/or teachers begin by introducing sandpaper letters. Children are exposed to letters, learning their sounds as opposed to their names.

In contrast to a more traditional approach to language, children usually learn writing before reading within the Montessori method. Each new skill is not introduced until a child begins to show interest, and parents use their child’s own timetable as their guide for advancement.

Montessori Language Curriculum

Whether your child is homeschooled, attending a Montessori school or a student at a traditional school, you can easily apply a great deal of the Montessori Language Curriculum as your child begins to read or write.

(Video) Montessori Language Curriculum Demonstrations

These principles begin as early as birth and continue throughout a child’s education, meaning that it is never too early or too late to start a Montessori language approach. Here are the principles of the language curriculum using the Montessori method.

Spoken Language

The first phase of the Montessori language curriculum is spoken language. From birth until about age 6, children have what is referred to as an absorbent mind. This means that children are absorbing and learning from everything that is around them.

During this time, children are able to learn language simply by being around others who are using language. Children begin to create an internal vocabulary and practice communicating using the language they are exposed to.

Some great activities to promote language development during this phase are exposing children to songs and poems, reading to them, naming objects in their environment, and beginning a Montessori three part lesson.

Phonetic Awareness

Children continue to learn and absorb spoken language around them until about age 6. However, at some point during this time, they begin to show signs of readiness for the second phase of the Montessori language curriculum.

This time of phonetic awareness is when most parents and educators begin to introduce letters. In the Montessori approach, letters are introduced phonetically, based on their sounds. Rather than learning the names of the letters, children learn to identify the sounds that they make.

Children learn to hear the different sounds in the words that they speak or listen to, and start to identify the corresponding symbol within the alphabet.

Some great materials to use to introduce and encourage phonetic awareness are sandpaper letters and the moveable alphabet.


In contrast to the traditional method, children learn writing first in a Montessori setting. Montessori language methods introduce writing earlier than most – prior to reading. Parents and educators wait to introduce writing until the child shows interest and signs of readiness.

(Video) Montessori Language Curriculum #1

Once a child has mastered the sounds of the letters and begins to show interest in further learning, they are given the chance to create words.

In a Montessori setting, this is most often done using the moveable alphabet. Children first put letters together based on their sounds, creating words using their phonetic observations. This means that in the beginning, children are not expected to spell correctly.

Throughout the beginning of the Montessori language curriculum, children use materials and activities to help strengthen their fingers and hands for writing. After using the moveable alphabet, children are given the opportunity to create words by writing out the letters themselves.


In a Montessori setting, language skills build upon each other as activities continue to be used in more advanced ways while children grow. The use of sandpaper letters and the moveable alphabet help establish a foundation for reading.

Reading is often not taught in a formal setting, but rather, is introduced and practiced while children are learning other subjects.

Once children have begun to form words with the moveable alphabet, their learning can be enhanced through the use of language cards with vowels, symbols, matching and more. Parents and teachers continue to focus on the specific sounds throughout the Montessori language curriculum, rather than letter names.

Advanced Language Activities

Word Study

  • In late kindergarten or early elementary, children begin to analyze and study words with which they are familiar.
  • During this time, they practice and develop different skills, such as alphabetizing, matching and classification.

Sentence Study

  • Once children have a deeper understanding of individual words, they begin to analyze sentences.
  • Here, previous knowledge is revisited and built upon in order for children to understand nouns, verbs and symbols.
  • As they advance, they explore the function of words and specific grammar rules.
  • Grammar cards and boxes are used to help students physically experience the words
Montessori Language: Curriculum and Materials for Success (1)

Montessori Language Materials

Initial exposure to the Montessori language curriculum may feel overwhelming, and a bit limiting at times. However, with the right materials, you’ll find that teaching and learning in this way flows quite organically and naturally with children.

These materials are certainly not essential for introducing language with the Montessori method, but can be highly advantageous. Each material serves a specific purpose, and was created with great purpose and intentionality.

(Video) Montessori Episode 9: LANGUAGE AREA

Sandpaper Letters

What are they?

Sandpaper letters are found on wooden squares, typically 6.25 x 4.75 inches in diameter. Each letter is created using high-grit sandpaper in either cursive or print. Vowels are presented on a blue background, with consonants on a pink background to help differentiate.

How are they used?

When introduced to Montessori language, children first trace the letter with their finger, feeling its shape on sandpaper. Next, they learn the sound the letter makes, rather than its name. For example, the letter B is not identified as “Bee”, but rather, with the sound it makes – “buh”.

Finally, they put this knowledge in place by engaging in letter matching and object sorting based on the look and sound of each letter.

What skill do they support?

Sandpaper letters help introduce the letter sounds. They serve as a visual symbol for each of the different sounds, and provide a sensory experience for children to enhance learning as they simultaneously trace the letter shape while saying its sound.

Moveable Alphabet

What is it?

The moveable alphabet is a key component of the Montessori language curriculum. It contains a small, physical version of each letter of the alphabet. It maintains the same color-coding system as sandpaper letters, and contains multiple copies of each letter.

How is it used?

Once children master the phonetic sounds of each letter, they begin using the moveable alphabet to identify different objects that begin with different letters. These letters can be added to sound boxes or used to create words as writing is introduced.

What skill does it support?

The moveable alphabet supports just about every language skill in the Montessori curriculum. After children master the sandpaper letters, the moveable alphabet can help further solidify their phonetic knowledge, and allow them to practice both reading and writing.

Sound Boxes

What are they?

Sound boxes are created by children, parents or teachers to help enhance their understanding of letter sounds. They are simple boxes, baskets or trays containing objects and pictures along with a letter from the moveable alphabet. These objects all begin with the corresponding letter in the basket.

How are they used?

Once children can identify the sounds that correspond to each letter, they are able to find objects or pictures in their environment that begin with the same sound. They put these objects together in a basket with the corresponding letter.

(Video) Montessori Language Curriculum Google Slides

What skill do they support?

These sound baskets are helpful for solidifying children’s knowledge of letter sounds. They also encourage language practice as children identify different objects in their environment by name.

Metal Insets

What are they?

Metal insets usually come in groups of ten, and each contains a pink metal frame surrounding a blue metal shape. The shape is cut out with a knob in the center, so children can remove it from the frame.

How are they used?

The Montessori language curriculum is very structured, and metal insets play a key role in preparing children for writing. Children use metal insets to develop strong finger and hand muscles by tracing the metal shape.

What skill do they support?

These metal insets are used to encourage finger strength and develop the hand dexterity that is needed to write letters. They are introduced prior to children beginning to write.

Vocabulary Cards

What are they?

Vocabulary cards can be handmade or store-bought. They come in a three part set: an image, a word, and the image + word.

How are they used?

Montessori language skills are often practiced using these vocabulary cards. Once children can identify the letters and sounds, these cards help them practice forming words and matching words with each object.

What skill do they support?

Vocabulary cards help solidify knowledge of letter sounds and provide practice for children in the early stages of reading.

Rhyme Cards

What are they?

Rhyming cards provide a visual for children with written words grouped into those that rhyme. Each set has a main word listed at the top, followed by a few others that rhyme. These words utilize the same color coding system as sandpaper letters, with blue vowels and pink consonants.

How are they used?

Once children begin to read, rhyming cards can be used to help them visually break down the words into different sounds, vowels and consonants. Children practice finding a word and matching it with words that rhyme based on their sound.

(Video) The Montessori Dictionary - The Pink Series

What skill do they support?

Rhyming cards are used to solidify phonetic understanding, and further develop reading skills. The cards provide opportunities for children to read words as well as hearing its sound and putting the sound into context by finding others that are similar.

The Montessori language curriculum might feel a bit foreign if you are used to a more traditional approach, but its methodical system helps learning flow naturally. With a solid understanding of each principle in the curriculum, any parent or teacher can implement some of the practices.

Introducing your child to language using a Montessori approach will allow them to take the lead, feel confident and gain independence in their learning. Try using some or all of the Montessori language principles in your home or classroom today!


What are the language material in Montessori? ›

In Montessori classrooms, there are two primary pedagogical materials used to teach children the sounds that each letter makes and how you can put those letters/sounds together to create words: the sandpaper letters and the movable alphabet.

What is the Montessori method of language teaching? ›

Montessori observed that children have a thirst for language and communication. Communication allows the child to express her needs and ideas to others. Through language we are able to cooperate, collaborate, receive knowledge and pass knowledge to others. Children go through a series of stages to acquire language.

What are the 5 areas of Montessori materials? ›

The Montessori Curriculum offers children five key areas of study: Practical Life, Sensorial, Mathematics, Language, and Culture. Each learning area is made up of a set of Montessori materials that each teach one key knowledge area or skill.

How do Montessori schools measure success? ›

Increasing responsibility in the classroom is one way that student progress is measured. The mastery of concepts is another way to measure progress in the Montessori classroom.

What are examples of created materials in language teaching? ›

Here are some examples:
  • TV shows, news segments, documentaries, movie clips and trailers, online videos, and commercials.
  • Radio broadcasts, songs, and podcasts.
  • Photographs, artwork, signs, postcards, maps, and advertisements.
  • Magazines, letters and emails, news articles, brochures, websites, blogs, and social media posts.

What are examples of teaching materials used in language teaching? ›

Materials could obviously be cassettes, videos, CD-Roms, dictionaries, grammar books, readers, workbooks or photocopied exercises. They could also be newspapers, food packages, photographs, live talks by invited native speakers, instructions given by a teacher, tasks written on cards or discussions between learners.

How do you use Montessori language objects? ›

Once your child knows some letter sounds, your child can choose a Montessori language object that represents a short phonetic word such as pig, web or cat and then write the word using a Montessori moveable alphabet. Invite your child to sound out a word on a card and match it with a Montessori language object.

What are the 5 Montessori method? ›

The Five Principles
  • Principle 1: Respect for the Child.
  • Principle 2: The Absorbent Mind.
  • Principle 3: Sensitive Periods.
  • Principle 4: The Prepared Environment.
  • Principle 5: Auto education.

How do the Montessori language materials prepare the child for writing and reading? ›

Children in a Montessori environment learn to write first, before they learn to read. This approach is organic, as children are able to put the letters for the sounds they know together into a word before they are ready to interpret and string together the sounds of a word on a page.

What are the 4 C's in Montessori? ›

These include: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication; otherwise known as 'The Four C's. '

How do you arrange Montessori materials in a classroom? ›

In the Montessori classroom, the Montessori materials are arranged within their curriculum area and are displayed from left to right in progression order, from easiest to hardest. This logical sequence provides children with a clear pathway to learning as they progress through the Montessori Curriculum.

What are the three essential tools Montessori? ›

These essential tools are the child's personal work journals, meetings with the child, and having available for the child's perusal, the societal expectations.

What are the criticisms of Montessori? ›

Some critics say that Montessori's emphasis on allowing students to explore their environments for themselves and work on their own projects discourages social interaction. Some go so far as to say it hurts children's social development.

Is Montessori good for ADHD? ›

One of the other key benefits of Montessori for ADHD is that it allows children to learn at their own pace. Often, children with ADHD thrive when they are able to focus their education on one thing or one concept at a time.

What are 4 materials that can support language and literacy? ›

Other must-have writing supplies include paper, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, journals, and sentence strips. Appropriate printed materials such as magazines, newspapers, menus, and brochures serve as excellent writing examples from which children can learn.

What is the best material for language learning? ›

Possibly the most useful tools there are for learning a language are writing implements, such as pens and pencils, and something to write on, such as paper or a notebook. You can use them not only to make notes and lists of vocabulary, phrases, etc, but also to practise writing in your L2.

What is included in language material? ›

Language material: Language material refers to a bibliographic record for an item which is basically textual in nature (whether printed, manuscript, microform, or electronic resource).

What are the 7 types of instructional materials? ›

Types of instructional materials
PrintTextbooks, pamphlets, handouts, study guides, manuals
AudioCassettes, microphone, podcast
VisualCharts, real objects, photographs, transparencies
AudiovisualSlides, tapes, films, filmstrips, television, video, multimedia
Electronic InteractiveComputers, graphing calculators, tablets

What are language teaching and learning materials for? ›

The aids used by the teacher or facilitator in the classroom to make his teaching more understandable and effectively are known as the teaching-learning materials or teaching aids. It can be big or small and can be bought or made easily by both the teacher or students.

What are objects of language teaching? ›

What is a language objective? Language objectives are lesson objectives that specifically outline the type of language that students will need to learn and use in order to accomplish the goals of the lesson.

How does Montessori teach grammar? ›

Best of all, Montessori grammar is hands-on, colorful, and active! In Montessori grammar, each part of speech is represented by a shape and color with a special meaning. For example, the Noun is represented by a black pyramid. The pyramid, one of the first human structures, is solid and does not move.

What are two key concepts of the Montessori curriculum model? ›

The two key principles on which Montessori's concept of child development was founded are that: Children and adults engage in self-construction (representing one's own identity) by interacting with their environment; children have an innate path of psychological development.

What are the 6 main areas of a Montessori classroom? ›

6 Components of a Montessori Classroom
  • Freedom.
  • Structure & Order.
  • Community & Social Life.
  • Beauty & Atmosphere.
  • Reality & Nature.
  • Montessori Materials.
Oct 26, 2020

What are the three most important principles of Montessori education? ›

Doctor Maria Montessori observed that children learn best when they are free to move, free to choose their own work, and follow their interests.

Does Montessori use phonics? ›

Montessori's approach to reading is heavily rooted in phonics teaching, and this phonics is taught with an emphasis on a sensory-led approach. For example, students might be encouraged to trace letters in varying materials, to promote a sensory form of learning and improve their fine motor skills.

How are letters taught in Montessori? ›

Children in Montessori learn to associate letter sounds with letter shapes using a material called the Montessori Sandpaper Letters. Children begin learning the letter sounds using sandpaper letters, which incorporate the sense of touch to further reinforce learning.

How do you write a Montessori curriculum? ›

Montessori Lesson Plan: The Elements
  1. Step 1: Title the Lesson. ...
  2. Step 2: List the Prerequisites. ...
  3. Step 3: List the Main Objective of the Montessori Lesson Plan. ...
  4. Step 4: List the Bonus Objective. ...
  5. Step 5: List the Materials. ...
  6. Step 6: Plan the Montessori Lesson Delivery. ...
  7. Step 7: Anticipating Questions. ...
  8. Step 8: List Future Activities.

What are the 6 concepts to describe the Montessori theory? ›

Here, they experience a combination of freedom and self-discipline, as guided by the environment. There are generally six aspects, or principles, to the Prepared Environment: Freedom, Structure and Order, Beauty, Nature and Reality, Social Environment, and Intellectual Environment.

What concepts are found in most Montessori classrooms? ›

Key concepts of Montessori education
  • Child-centered.
  • Individualized learning.
  • Integrated curriculum.
  • Hands on learning.
  • Multi age groupings.
  • Three year cycle.
Oct 18, 2018

What are rules of Montessori materials? ›

This rule has two parts. One, the child should be able to see the materials, two he should be able to take out the materials by himself without anybody's help. Note how the showrooms display their products. They do not hide but show their products beautifully with all their characteristics visible.

What should a Montessori classroom look like? ›

In a Montessori classroom, decorations are kept to a minimum. Any decorations found on the walls are generally both practical and simply designed. Natural furnishings. Whereas many traditional classrooms use brightly colored plastic desks and chairs, Montessori classrooms mostly stick to natural wood furnishings.

What are didactic materials in Montessori method? ›

Didactic materials – Didactic meaning “designed or intended to teach,” these are the specially-designed instructional materials—many invented by Maria Montessori—that are a hallmark of all Montessori classrooms.

What is three period lesson in Montessori? ›

In Montessori, a teacher uses the Three Period Lesson to introduce a concept or vocabulary and demonstrate the purpose of a material. These lessons allow for a slower, easier absorption process and allows for isolated concepts and reinforcement of each step or component of a lesson as necessary.

What is pink tower Montessori? ›

The Pink Tower is the iconic Montessori material. Often called the 'symbol of Montessori', it is a welcoming sign in any Montessori environment, and a favourite with educators globally. Part of the sensorial area, it is comprised of 10 pink wooden cubes, in 3 different dimensions.

What is Montessori three period lesson language? ›

A trademark of Montessori education is the three-period lesson. It is a method all Montessori primary teachers use to introduce new vocabulary and concepts to a child that involves three key steps: naming, recognition, and recall (more on this below).

What is the downfall of Montessori schools? ›

The Montessori method has some drawbacks including the lack of consistent quality implementation, difficulty in transitioning to higher education, and high tuition. However, the Montessori method itself is not bad as this development-focused education fosters independence and a love for learning in children.

What type of child thrives in Montessori? ›

Kids with special needs, such as learning or physical disabilities, often thrive in a Montessori setting. 3 Materials used in Montessori settings engage all the senses. Students are free to move about the classroom, which is an advantage for those children who require a lot of physical activity.

What is the best age to start Montessori? ›

The best time to enroll your child into a Montessori school is between the ages of 2.5 and 6 years old, when they are most sensitive to the world around them.

Why does Montessori discourage praise? ›

In the Montessori classroom, external rewards, including excessive praise, are discouraged. This is because the child should become internally motivated, recognising the benefits and innate goodness of the work they do. This doesn't happen automatically.

Are Montessori students more successful? ›

Two lottery-control studies in public Montessori schools showed that Montessori 5-year-olds had better math and reading performance, better social skills and knowledge, more advanced moral reasoning and higher executive function. Findings with lower-income 5-year-olds are particularly impressive.

Is Montessori proven to be better? ›

Analysing their progress at age five, Lillard found that the children who went to the Montessori school tended to have better literacy, numeracy, executive function and social skills, compared to those who had attended the other schools. And at age 12, they showed better story-telling abilities.

Did Bill Gates attend Montessori school? ›

Bill Gates attended Montessori in his early years. Gates is the former chief executive and chairman of Microsoft, the world's largest personal-computer software company.

Are Montessori students happier? ›

Research published in 2021 by the University of Virginia found that attending Montessori programs for at least two childhood years resulted in significantly higher adult wellbeing in the areas of engagement, social trust, self-confidence, and general wellbeing.

Is Montessori academically rigorous? ›

Are Montessori schools as academically rigorous as traditional schools? Yes. Montessori classrooms encourage deep learning of the concepts behind academic skills rather than rote practice of abstract techniques.

What are language learning materials? ›

'Materials' include anything which can be used to facilitate the learning of a language. They can be linguistic, visual, auditory or kinesthetic, and they can be presented in print, through live performance or display, or on cassette, CD-ROM, DVD or the internet.

What are the language materials? ›

Language material: Language material refers to a bibliographic record for an item which is basically textual in nature (whether printed, manuscript, microform, or electronic resource). It is identified by code a (Language material) or t (Manuscript language material) in Leader/06.

What are language play materials? ›

Open-Ended Materials for Language Play

Blocks, Little People, trains, cars, Legos, pipe cleaners, pom poms, lids, play-doh, boxes, and other materials that can be used in multiple ways are the favorites around here. These materials used for fine motor skills are often ones that can be used in many, many ways!

What are the four skills and new material in language learning? ›

When we say that someone 'speaks' a language fluently, we usually mean that they have a high level in all four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

What are the five important components of language teaching? ›

Linguists have identified five basic components (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics) found across languages.

Why are materials important in language instruction? ›

Learning materials act as a guide for both the teacher and the learner. They can provide a valuable routine in the teaching and learning process. For example, by providing a summarizing poster or video after each topic.

What are three principles of developing language learning materials? ›

Principles in Materials Development

The principles, according to Tomlinson, should be based on theory, teaching principles, knowledge of language use, and the result of a systematic observation and evaluation.

What are the 7 instructional materials? ›

Types of instructional materials
PrintTextbooks, pamphlets, handouts, study guides, manuals
AudioCassettes, microphone, podcast
VisualCharts, real objects, photographs, transparencies
AudiovisualSlides, tapes, films, filmstrips, television, video, multimedia
Electronic InteractiveComputers, graphing calculators, tablets

What are the 4 tools of language? ›

Mango Languages focuses on four components of language learning: vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, and culture. The last one is particularly important one, as students shouldn't just memorize a new language but also understand where it's coming from.

What materials support language development in early childhood? ›

Audiobooks, video read-alouds, and audio recordings of parents telling stories or singing songs should be available as well. Children should be given the opportunity to create their own books or class books out of materials, such as paper, cardboard, or Ziploc bags.

How to make a language material more engaging for learners? ›

Read on for five ways to engage your world language students in the classroom.
  1. Reward Student Proficiency. ...
  2. Use culture as a medium for learning. ...
  3. Create a language-rich environment. ...
  4. Embrace different learning styles and motivations. ...
  5. Try new technology.
Jul 14, 2020


1. Montessori - What Is Language?
(My Works Montessori)
2. The Montessori Language Program
(LePort Montessori Schools)
3. Montessori - Grammar...without the worksheets!
(Rebecca Higham - Inquisitive Educator)
4. MONTESSORI CURRICULUM AT HOME | Popular Homeschool Curriculum Picks for a Montessori Style Education
(Calm in the Chaos Homeschool)
5. MONTESSORI LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT 0-3 YEARS! Montessori At Home Language Activities & Progression
(Maria and Montessori)
6. The Montessori Dictionary - The Blue Series
(Sunshine Teachers Training)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Last Updated: 03/06/2023

Views: 5455

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (49 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Lakeisha Bayer VM

Birthday: 1997-10-17

Address: Suite 835 34136 Adrian Mountains, Floydton, UT 81036

Phone: +3571527672278

Job: Manufacturing Agent

Hobby: Skimboarding, Photography, Roller skating, Knife making, Paintball, Embroidery, Gunsmithing

Introduction: My name is Lakeisha Bayer VM, I am a brainy, kind, enchanting, healthy, lovely, clean, witty person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.