Please see my post about Phonetic Boxes for toddlers here.
You might think - why objects? Pictures work as well, and they are not nearly as expensive!
I personally think that the tactile experience of handling the three dimensional objects, and seeing miniature replicas of the everyday objects makes it more fun for the kiddos, and makes language work more exciting. And the possibilities with them are endless - you can extend them and get lots of mileage out of them.
To sum it up, it makes language work more fun and exciting!
Back to the boxes.
Initially, I had a few letters in each box. And I introduced the letters in this order, according to one Montessori Album.
r a m f
b i t g
p o n l
h u s c
d e x q y
z v w j k
My kids always manage to sneak in their toys, which is great! It shows that they understand Angry Bird starts with "a", or Dora and Diego start with "d", and McQueen starts with "m".
These pictures were taken when Spiderman was already confident of his sounds. After working on a few letters at a time, I combined all letters from A to M in one box, and letters N to Z in another box.
And for both Spiderman and Batman, I would ask them to sort all 13 letters at a time once they were conversant with it. I know my kids have the attention span for it. You will know your kids and students the best. So decide accordingly.
They had tons of fun playing with all the miniatures, their toys, speculating about the origin of some of the toys (wasn't this from the goody bag from xyz's birthday etc), and of course, reviewing the beginning sounds.
So they now know their beginning sounds. What next? The same collection can be used for tons of things.
- Extend them. Create sensory bins with them - something simple, like just plain white rice, with some or all the letters and one or more objects corresponding to each letter can make the whole experience different and playful and fun!
- Use then for pre-reading activities. Take a peek here.
- Use the same objects and work on ending sounds.
- Middle sounds are harder to identify for beginners. So pair the objects with the same middle sounds. Start with 10 objects, with one pair for each vowel (short) sound. Line up one of the pairs, and ask them to find the matching pair.
- Rhyming Words - you probably already have quite a few pair. See bank and tank in the picture. If you are working on the pink series, look for objects like pen - hen - men, lid - kid, mop - top, bed - red (a piece of felt works). You can find more pictures here.
- Use them with moveable alphabets for Pink, Blue and Green Series work.
- Use them to introduce blends and digraphs and diphthongs. See my post here.
- Extend them to teach doubles - vowels or consonants. I had an apple for a, book and ball for letter b, egg for e, green for letter g - you see where I am going.
- For syllable count - ask the kids to sort them in 1 syllable, 2 syllable, 3 syllable words etc.
- Work on compound words - for example, if you have a butterfly, or ladybug, or football in the collection, the kiddos can identify the components. Or if you have a pin, wheel, cow and boy, they can come up with the compound words - pinwheel and cowboy!
- Once the kiddos have mastered the short sounds, use and extend the object boxes and go hunting for long vowel sounds in your collection. Have grapes for g? Teach them about the silent e in it, and how a says its name.
- Similarly, extend and use them object boxes for soft c and g sounds.
- If you look at the pictures here, you will see I have car, feather - use them to teach about r controlled vowels.
- Use it for singular / plural work. For kids working on the pink series, instead of giving them the labels, you can get them to spell the words using moveable alphabet. If they can spell pen, pens is easy-peasy for them!
- For Montessori grammar work - you can start with noun and article box. You already have everything you need. And if you have farm animals, you are all set for Montessori Grammar Farm.
Use them for math work.
They can be used to introduce the kids to living and non-living things, or perhaps natural and man-made, soft or hard, sink or float etc.
For older kids:
- Present them a few things from your collection, and ask them to compose a story with the those elements. The results can be quite hilarious.
- Provide the objects (nouns), and ask them to write down adjectives.
- Categories for older kids: magnetic or non-magnetic, conductive or non-conductive, vertebrates or non-vertebrates.
Even more fun might be to give a collection to the kids, and ask them to categorize it.
Having two boys, I always have lots of transportation themed stuff. You could extend use them for Land/Air/Water Unit with vehicles and animals.
I also had quite a few animals. With one or two toobs of animals, I was able to do a categorization of the major habitats - grassland, desert, ocean, forest, polar-regions.
Here's a picture of Spiderman working on the pink series work with me...
Great places for scoring miniature objects:
Tubes like the Safari Toobs
Factory Direct Craft
Michaels, Dollar Store, stores that sell doll-house miniatures, other craft stores
Etsy stores like HighPie
Toy bins at home (you will be surprised at how much you have at home already)
For more ideas on the objects, how to use them, where to get them etc, please follow my Pinterest board: Montessori Language Arts with Objects
As you can tell, I love object boxes, and would love to hear how you are using them! Leave me a comment, or a link.