In What Order Should You Introduce Letters to Your Preschooler?

Dads Can Help with Child-Led Learning
Montessori-Compatible Language Activities

In What Order Should You Introduce Sandpaper Letters to Your PreschoolerShould you introduce letters to your preschooler in their order in the alphabet? Surprisingly, no. There are actually better ways to introduce the letters of the alphabet.

In Montessori education, letters are introduced by phonetic sounds rather than letter names. And they’re not introduced in their order within the alphabet. Instead, they’re introduced in an order that allows the child to make many words with the letters he or she has learned.

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For information on where to get sandpaper letters to introduce letter sounds (and how to present them), see my post “Inexpensive and DIY Sandpaper Letters.”

Sandpaper Letters

There are variations among Montessori schools, so there isn’t a definite order that must be used. Any of the following orders will give a good foundation for reading.

Here’s the order used in Montessori schools where I worked (introducing the letters 2, 3, or 4 at a time) as well as suggested in Montessori Matters by Sister Mary Ellen Carinato et al:

s  m  t  a  p  f  c

r  b  l  i  g  n  d

h  j  k  w  o  u  v

y  z  x  q  e

Here’s the order suggested in How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin:

First set: c  m  a  t 

Second set: s  r  i  p

Third set: b  f  o  g 

Fourth set: h  j  u  l

Fifth set: d  w  e  n

Sixth set: k  q  v  x  y  z 

Here’s an order used in some other Montessori schools:

First set: m  s  a  t

Second set: b  f  o  x

Third set: w  i  g   l  j

Fourth set: c  u  p  z

Fifth set: h  e  n  r  d

Sixth set: v  k  q  y

And here’s another order used by some Montessori schools:

First set: r a m f

Second set: b i t g 

Third set: p o n l

Fourth set: h u s c  

Fifth set: d e x q y

Sixth set: z v w j k

This order was suggested in the post “Are Sandpaper Letters Enough?” by Cathie Perolman at the Trillium Montessori blog.

Red- s, m, a, t
Orange- c, r, i, p
Yellow- b,f,o, g
Green- h,j,u,l
Blue- d,w,e,n
Purple- kqvxyz

Sandpaper Letter with Salt Tray (Photo from Peaceful Parenting)

Sandpaper Letter with Salt Tray (Photo from Peaceful Parenting) – One of the Ideas in My “Inexpensive and DIY Sandpaper Letters” Post

Some Montessorians use one of the above orders but first introduce the first letter of the child’s name. Of course, that works best if the child’s name starts with a simple phonetic sound rather than a phonogram like “ch.”

Teach Letter Sounds Using Montessori Principles


See my post and YouTube video “Teach Letter Sounds to Your Child Using Montessori Principles” for more about order of introduction and how to pronounce each letter sound.

DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics for Preschoolers

You’ll find a more thorough list of Montessori phonics activities in my “DIY Beginning Montessori Phonics for Preschoolers.”

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Dads Can Help with Child-Led Learning
Montessori-Compatible Language Activities
For Small Hands - A Resource for Families
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