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September 13, 2016

Exploring Montessori Language Work from Ages 2 to 3

According to Maria Montessori children are in the sensitive period for language from birth until age 6. During this time they are making incredible leaps in not only oral, but written language acquisition. Most of the time this happens without any intervention on the part of the parent. Exploring Montessori language work from 2 to 3 may not look like what you are expecting.

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As I've talked about before, toddlers often need no formal introduction to academic concepts. This includes "typical" language activities such as the alphabet or reading programs. As Maria said "In our system little children acquire a hand which is practiced and ready to write. They are unconsciously preparing themselves for writing when in the course of the sense exercises they move the hand in various directions, constantly repeating the same actions though with different immediate ends in view."

Again, we are choosing to not teach Nora letter names or sounds at this time. This isn't always the easiest for us as parents to accept, especially in today's society. We want to we are giving the best to our children and that's totally understandable.

But, if we aren't doing letters, then what can we do? There are a variety of engaging and easy toddler work that indirectly prepares toddlers for reading and writing. By making sure we don't skip these steps prior to introducing letters then we will give toddlers the best foundation for reading and writing in the future. It will actually be significantly easier and more natural for them to learn when they are actually fully prepared and ready.


These are things that you can do to make your home as reading-friendly as possible. These don't have to be complicated. But, taking some time to make sure your child can read as comfortably as possible. Reading and writing should be a natural part of your day and life.

  • Create a literacy positive atmosphere -- read and write around your child 
  • Set up a reading corner or space for your child, make it easy to read 
  • Choose a wide variety of beautiful books for your child 
  • Make books accessible to children by using child-sized shelving
Montessori language work from ages 2 to 3. A look at how Montessori toddlers work on language development as they move towards reading and writing. Some ideas on what activities to do and which to avoid.


So much of learning to read comes from developing oral language skills. Before learning letter sounds, toddlers have to learn to recognize and distinguish sounds.

  • READ, READ, and READ some more
  • Play listening games: go outside and try to identify sounds or listen for specific sounds; sound lotto games
  • Make up rhyming games 
  • Read poetry aloud -- this collection is incredible 
  • Use real and descriptive language with your toddler
  • Introduce Sound Games with your child -- my lovely friend Amy at Midwest Montessori has excellent explanations on how to start this process

Fine Motor

It's super important that toddlers develop the fine motor skills necessary to begin to write and read. Many people want to skip to right to sandpaper letters with their young kids to teach them letter sounds. However, this requires a lot of fine motor skills in order to successfully complete. It also takes skills to hold a book, or a pencil. "The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence." - Maria Montessori
  • Practical Life skills 
  • Free art: water colors, chalk, coloring with crayons
  • Playdoh to strengthen hand muscles 
  • Sewing -- start with bead lacing and threading, moving to lacing and using blunt embroidery needles and thread
  • Pegging work and puzzles 
  • Finger painting 

Cognitive and Visual Discrimination 

There is some shelf work that can be helpful for toddlers. Many of these ideas can be made easily at home. Another helpful thing to do is make sure that all work in arranged from left to right. It helps children start to logically move from left to right as they put together words and read sentences.

  • Matching work to move children toward abstraction
  • Sorting work: sorting soft and hard objects, magnetic verses non-magnetic, etc.  
  • Classification work -- classifying cards {like those Nora is using}
  • Sequencing work -- putting cards in a logical order from beginning to end 
  • Naming objects and pictures using 2 and 3-part lessons

These are just some ideas to help people prepare their toddlers for reading and writing. If you want more information on Montessori language arts and the process of teaching reading and writing, don't miss this book: Montessori Read & Write: A Parents' Guide to Literacy for Children.

Montessori language work from ages 2 to 3. A look at how Montessori toddlers work on language development as they move towards reading and writing. Some ideas on what activities to do and which to avoid.

12 Months of Montessori 

This post is brought to you as part of the 12 Months of Montessori series. This month's theme is language arts. For more Montessori and Montessori inspired ideas, don't miss these great blog posts!

Learning the Montessori Way: Grammar | Every Star is Different
Our Favorite Language Arts Supplements | Grace and Green Pastures
My Church Montessori 3-Part Cards | Christian Montessori Network

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Unknown said…
Great Nickole, but what's the rhyming game ?
Denaye said…
Just ordered the poem book, will let you know how it goes!
Unknown said…
So much great information for the little ones here. I especially love how you talked about Creating a literacy positive atmosphere and to read and write around your child. I agree this is so important.
Unknown said…
This is a great set of activities for little ones! Reading is such an important skill to learn, but who said it had to be boring or tedious, right? :)
Mama's Happy Hive
So many wonderful ideas for exploring language! I'm going to order the book you recommended for poetry.
Jae (Pinay Homeschooler)
Indeed the main LANGUAGE ACTIVITIES for younger children are books and constant communication/interaction through activities and play! Great post!