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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Children Who Have Difficulty Recalling (Remembering) Sandpaper Letters

My colleague Robin Miller (a Montessori Instructional Coach and AMI Primary Teacher) and I were discussing future blog posts for Montessori Deconstructed and we had a great conversation about children who do not recall or have difficulty recalling the sounds of the sandpaper letters during a lesson.

The Lesson

We know how powerful those sound lessons are with the sandpaper letters.  The sandpaper engages the tactile sense, then the visual sense is activated through seeing the letter symbol, watching the mouth make the sound and tracing the sounds. The auditory sense is stimulated through hearing the sound of the letter and listening to words that begin with the sound.  Then, we present in the three period lesson which has been proven to be so successful for acquiring new information.  There are so few lessons that engage the child is this way!

What to Do

So, when you observe a child isn’t recalling the sounds from his lessons after multiple presentations, what do you do?  I have a few ideas!  Before I go any further, remember, it is your responsibility to be documenting the progress of your students, especially when you have a child who may be facing a challenge. My suggestion is to document the date of each sound lesson and the sounds you presented. This will give you valuable data for yourself on the pace of this child’s learning as well as if you need to conference with parents about this.

1.  Frequency: A child who is having noticeable difficulty recalling sounds should be offered the lesson at high frequency.  I would suggest daily if you can and document each lesson.  This information will be very useful to you!

      2.  Sensorial Extensions:  Yes!  Look in your Sensorial album and find the Memory Games.  Distance Games and Group Games can help a child with this challenge of recall.  Dr. Montessori developed these games to strengthen the memory.  Think of the sound cylinders or color tablets where one set is on a table and the matching set is on another table across the room.  The child must carry the sound from the cylinder of the color from the tablet in their mind, across the room-navigating tables, rugs, and friends- to locate its match.  It is powerful!  These games can be done with many of the sensorial materials!

      3.  Fidelity: This means that you must be consistent with the intervention you start to see if it works.  Realistically four to six weeks is a reasonable amount of time to truly see if this type of intervention will be successful.  Again-your documentation will be your proof that you are trying something different to meet the needs of this learner.  

      I hope this suggestion helps any child you have in this situation.  The documentation is so important as well as sticking with the intervention.  The Memory Games are just plain fun and your class will love them if you aren’t already doing them!