All Those Alphabets

We have several alphabets in the Montessori environments:

Sandpaper Letters:
set 1) pink/blue background with the lower case individual letters
set 2) green background with lower case letter combination (phonograms or digraphs)
capitals are optional - generally used for children who truly *need* them - which tends to be children with developmental learning needs.

large movable alphabet

"Large" Movable Alphabet: Primary
cut out of wood, stored in a large wood box
Slightly smaller versions are available organized alphabetically - more budget-friendly but less ideal, as we want the children to focus on the sounds rather than the order of the letters at the youngest ages. In a homeschool setting, the alphabetized set is more ideal due to size and portability. 

medium movable alphabet
many manufacturers are now calling this "small movable alphabet"

Small Movable Alphabet - Story Movable Alphabet:

(many manufacturers are no longer using the adjective "small" - instead using a variety of other titles for this one)

  • Primary and Elementary
  • Stored in a small wooden box or a tackle-box
  • Can include punctuation marks
  • PRIMARY - Movable Alphabet: use a variation on this for longer movable alphabet work (in red consonants and blue vowels) and to introduce capitals. 
  • PRIMARY - Word Study and Phonogram Study: 2 alphabets: one in red, one in blue; some people prefer to use black for a root word and red for the other portions. 
  • Printed onto card-stock or similar - one side is lower case, the other side is capital
  • All letters within an alphabet set are the same color
  • 2 sets (one complete alphabet in one color; one complete alphabet in the second color) needed for primary; 3 sets in elementary (each a different color, such as black, red, blue - a 4th color is handy but not 100% necessary)
Can be print OR cursive

Cursive: to extend use of the wooden alphabet to tell longer stories and introduce punctuation.
Print: for reading activities in both primary and elementary (word study, phonograms and the like)

At home, you can take the cursive version, rearrange the colors and keep using cursive just fine. Print out a complete set of red, a complete set of blue: use the proper vowels and consonants to extend movable alphabet use. When ready to do Phonogram study and Word study, switch the vowels back so each alphabet box matches. At elementary, print one more set in black. 

Handwriting charts - displayed in picture frames: Primary; useful in Elementary; usually written on Montessori banded-lined paper
  • all cursive lower case
  • all cursive capital
  • cursive and print lower case
  • cursive and print capital
  • All cursive lower case and capital
  • (optional: print capital and lowercase; not a necessary material)

Elementary Impressionistic Charts: 

samples of Egyptian, Babylonian and others are given as part of presentations and for children's follow-up work. Leading to copywork and further exploration. 

Additional Elementary: 
As the children delve into history, they will discover other forms of the letters including, but not limited to the following: 
Click for great illuminated letters
  • Illuminated Alphabet
  • Hebrew Alphabet
  • Other cultures and other historical periods
  • Handwriting in the young United States
  • Calligraphy
  • So much more


  1. Please can you tell me where the alphabet at the top is from?

    1. I really don't know. It was a stock photo. Sorry!