{MATERIALS} The moveable alphabet


When children have been working with the Sandpaper letters and know all the phonetic sounds of the alphabet, and have understood the sounds that those letters make within a word, they are then ready for the moveable alphabet.

The moveable alphabet is a large box that has 26 compartments, one for each letter, the vowels are blue and the consonants are red. The activity that the children do with the moveable alphabet prepares them for reading, writing and spelling.  

The lessons can be done with 1 to 4 children who are all at the same stage of understanding letters.  Firstly place the box on a mat, you open the lid of the box of letters and place the lid under the box and let your child or children look at all the letters for a moment. You can then start to ask them to find certain letters by asking them to find “a” (phonetic sound), and ask them to place it on the mat. Ask them to find “c” (phonetic sound) and place it on the mat. When the children or child have finished finding letters, they place them back into their proper compartment. This is helping them to see were the letters are and reinforcing the sound of the letters and what the look like.

The next step that they are going to do is forming or making words. The materials are set out as before. First we start with words that have three phonetic letters. You can say to your child for example, “ Lets, make the word “cat.”  “What sounds can you hear when I say, “cat”.  The children or child will say a sound they hear but maybe not in the correct order, it maybe “t” You place them in the correct order as they say them. You then say, “what else can you hear,” they will then say another sound they can hear until they have spelt out the whole word. You then read the word back saying each letter phonetically,   then saying the whole word.  You can then go onto making some more three letter phonetic words.

The children really enjoy working out words and feel self-confident when they see a word that they have formed. If the children/child spell something incorrectly just let them go on with their work, you do not want to take away the child’s enthusiasm so do not interfere, they will improve with practice. If you can see that they are struggling and seem to not understand, give them another lesson on the next day to reintroduce it.

Your child can work with the moveable alphabet when they choose, first you start with the Pink Boxes which have attractive small objects that have names that are two or three letter phonetic words, such as cup, peg, ant, etc.

The blue box contains objects whose names are longer phonetic words like, hand, stamp, duck. The children place the objects to the left hand side of the mat and build its name beside it, they then take another object and put it under the first and builds its name.

When they have understood the activity they can work alone. They have to have a good understanding of the pink boxes before they go onto the blue boxes.

The moveable alphabet has helped children with spelling words, and seeing what they look like when they are formed, I have taught children in year 5 who are having trouble spelling, and the fact that they have to find each letter to spell out the word they are looking at it, saying it, seeing if there is some kind of pattern in the word and then writing it. This way the child is using his senses to work out how to spell the letter. Children as young as 3 are forming words using the moveable alphabet as they have a good understanding of the sandpaper letters where they sound out each letter of the alphabet which in turn helps them to build words.

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  • Rebecca Grugan
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