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Early interest in words, of course, begins at a very early age. In a preschool setting, their interest is enhanced by hearing books read, sharing stories, word games, finger plays, poems and songs, conversations, and the book corner to name just a few. In preparation for reading and writing, the language materials developed by Maria Montessori gently guide the children towards their development of early reading and writing skills through the materials she designed while also involving the senses: seeing, hearing, touching. For instance, the pink and blue sandpaper letters can be handled individually to practice sounding out the letter phonically. They are also used as a precursor to writing by tracing over the sand imprint of the letter with their fingers while simultaneously sounding out the letter. In this way, multiple modalities are in play and the child absorbs the lessons with full enjoyment—they teach themselves. For me, one of the most rewarding and joyous moments of working with young children is the look of pure delight when a child successfully sounds out their very first group of letters and realize that they have begun to master reading—the look of amazement in their eyes….a beautiful thing indeed.

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