Contributed by Angie Ma, Follow the Child Montessori School Toddler House Lead Teacher
Over the past six years we have amassed a huge collection of language materials for our Toddler House classrooms. According to our AMI Assistants to Infancy training, we rotate a selection of Real Objects or Replicas, Objects and Exact Matching Images or Objects and Photographs. Daily, we present the materials in individual and group lessons. The children also work with these materials individually during the work cycle. Of course, language is a part of the entire environment- the most important part during this Sensitive Period for language. The various language materials meet specific developmental needs.
- Experience with real objects offers sensorial information, which is the foundation for language.
- As seen in the image of the Large Sea Animals and Exact Image, this language materials offers a concrete representation, as the object perfectly eclipses the drawing, that the 2D image represents the 3D object.
- Objects and Photographs, as seen with the rocks and minerals, allow the child to match an object or a replica of an object to a photograph.
- In addition, we include numerous sets of Nomenclature Cards and other language cards depicting situations or a sequence of events.
Based on observations of the children and scientific research, I’ve added new materials in addition to these Montesesori materials. Reading Ellen Galinksy’s Mind In The Making, I learned of research that supports Montessori’s approach to teaching reading that is based on learning phonemes. We’ve added or modified various toddler materials like I Spy, Classified Fishing Bag, and Gluing Sound Cards that provide practice listening to and identifying phonemes.Visual recognition of words, Galinsky notes, is not proven to aid the child learning to read and may actually hinder this process.
She notes, howevers, that it is important for the child make the connection that words (nouns) are a representation of actual objects.
Just as the Objects and Exact Images material demonstrates to the child that the 2D image represents the 3D objects, Words and Matching Objects simply demonstrates for the child that the word represents the objects. In the presentation, we allow the child to pick a card and say, for example, “Frog! Can you put the frog next to the word, ‘frog.'” The picture ensures that the child correctly orients the word and allows the child to find the matching object independently.
I carefully consider any changes or modifications to the standard Montessori curriculum. I take comfort in the knowledge that Montessori was a scientist and would certainly have created to materials based on her observations and new scientific understanding.
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