Alphabet Initial Sounds Puzzle
Learning the recognition of letters and phonetic sounds is a fundamental aspect of the Montessori Literacy curriculum. This Puzzle, by renowned brand Melissa & Doug, can support the recognition of letter symbols while also encouraging a child to focus on articulating and identifying the 'initial sounds' in words.
There are many similar products available, so what are the attributes that make this specific puzzle stand out to me? Well...
- The 'letter' segment of each puzzle features both the lowercase and uppercase letter symbols, allowing exposure to both of these at once.
- The puzzle includes its own "self-correcting mechanism". Each letter piece will only fit with its corresponding image. This encourages independent work and problem-solving, without the need for adult intervention.
- As an added self-correcting feature there is a tiny printed word on each picture piece. It is small enough to be subtle, so children tend not to notice it unless it is pointed out. This ensures that a child is likely to focus on using the identification of the 'initial sound' as the primary method of matching. If, however, a child is struggling more with the recognition of the letter symbol than the sound (that is, he or she can articulate the phonetic sound and can 'hear' it in words but has trouble recognising the written letters) then the adult can draw attention to the printed word to help the child focus on matching the letter to the same symbol at the start of the word.
- The picture pieces feature quite realistic illustrations. Although they are not photographic images they are beautiful and detailed painted depictions which show quite accurate features. This suits the Montessori ethos of maintaining realism in the early childhood environment.
- Each letter of the alphabet (and its corresponding picture) is separate, rather than a segment of a larger complete puzzle. This allows for the staggering of presentations as a child learns letters (through Three Period Lessons with the Tactile Letters). If a child recognises, for example, the phonetic letters 's', 'm' and 'o' then these three puzzle sets could be taken from the set of 26 and presented to the child. The exercise can increase in difficulty by introducing more sets as a child learns more letters!
- The set is wooden! This is ideal from an aesthetic perspective as wood is such a beautiful, natural material. but It also has the practical benefit of ensuring that the resource will last much longer than a paper or cardboard puzzle. This makes it an excellent resource for a classroom, where longevity is vital. It also promotes eco-friendly and budget-friendly practices in the home by ensuring that this is a resource which will last long enough to be passed down between siblings, or passed on to a friend or relative.
- The set is stored snugly in a solid wooden box. When all the pairs are matched then all the pieces will fit perfectly into the box. This allows an older child, or a helpful adult, to more easily keep track of the pieces before storing it. If all the pieces could be randomly thrown into a larger box then it would be hard to identify if pieces had gone missing. Since the pieces need to be replaced in an organised fashion it will be immediately apparent if a piece is absent - so the child and adult can locate this rogue piece before packing the activity away for storage.