Reading Steps.

cute_little_african_american_girl_lying_on_the_floor_and_reading_a_book_0515-1002-0104-1043_SMUMontessori First Steps to Reading.  

Age: From two and a half.




images-3Step 1. Three period lesson of initial sounds using the Sand paper letters usually 3 at a time, until all the sounds in the Alphabet are known.





Step 2. Matching initial sounds with object boxes.

a) Introduce matching the initial sound boxes with the Sand Paper letters. (SPL) Probably best to do 3 at a time as in SPL’s.

images-1b) A selection of  Sand Paper Letters and corresponding initial sound boxes all with several different objects with the same initial sound.

So, laid out, each letter will have 5/6 objects laid next to it.




c) Lay out all the Sand Paper Letters and have one mixed box with one initial sound object for each letter. 26 SPL’s and 26 initial objects.

Step 3. Introduce the Large Movable Alphabet 

images-2a)Introduce the Large Movable Alphabet,(LMA) by laying out the Sand Paper Letters and Matching the LMA.

( this is even better if the LMA is the same size as the Sand Paper Letter and fits exactly on top for the sand paper letter)




images-3b) Use the mixed initial sound object box and find the corresponding LMA letter (and  if the child wants to he/she could also match it to the corresponding SPL)





Step 4. Start to use Pink Boxes (three letter phonetic objects and words)

a) Use the First Pink Box Set with the LMA.

imagesFirst box has 6, three letter objects, with the same vowel (no cards) for example mat, cat, bat, man, pan,hat. The child sounds out the first sound he/she hears when she/he says “mat” and finds the “m” from the LMA and places it on the rug next to the mat object, then the next sound heard is found from the LMA, you may find it is “t”, this is fine, separate them and really pronounce the sound “a” when saying “maaaat” and ask what the child hears? they will come up with the “a” find it and put it in the space m-a-t.

The child may not be able to read this back, do not ask them to, if they do spontaneously, wonderful. Encourage the child to work on all the objects.


The rest of the First Pink Box set, each box has objects corresponding to the vowel in the box.


Pink box “e’ = hen,ten,bed,net,pen,peg.

Pink Box “i” = tin,kid,nib,lid,six,pig.

Pink box “o” = pot,top,box,dog,fox,log.

Pink box “u” = jug,hut,nut,mug,sun,tub.

Each box has 6 phonetic 3 letter objects and the child works through them with the Large Movable Alphabet.

Step 5

More Pink Boxes.

Pink Boxes with objects and word cards, you can group these into vowel boxes to if you want but by this stage I have usually found that a child is ready to move on.

So finding every three letter phonetic word you can, if they have a corresponding object great.


1) Phonetic 3 letter objects and word cards





images-62) Phonetic three letter picture and word card boxes

Group them into 6/8 words per pink box and place them on the shelves.




Encourage the children to chose a box to work with, and they are on their way!

(I shall make word lists FYI, you will find it in Categories>Language > Word lists.)

Coming next: How to tie this three letter phonetic stage into grammar and sentence building and reading. (Farm 1)

Questions and comments very welcome.

Empower the Child.








  • Munira says:


    Thank you for sharing such a beautifully done work .. I am sharing it on fb , it will help many parents and teachers I am sure 🙂

  • Andrea Lulka says:

    This is great!
    There are two things I would personally add, for the sake of clarity where parents are concerned:
    – this all happens after all the sound games are mastered.
    – if a child at any time decides to write their own words with any of the materials, let them… the pink boxes are a guide, an inspiration point, not a restriction 🙂

    • sharon says:

      Andrea, thank you for your very welcome comments. Yes, until all the sounds are known. Having said that, I have also had children who are not quite finished with learning the sounds but have wanted to build words with the Large Movable Alphabet and in doing so have learned the remainder of sounds. I think, and I try to explain to parents, that following the child and demonstrating materials so that they have freedom of choice is key to development. 🙂

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