Years ago, in our one room Montessori classroom in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, we had a vision to democratize Montessori education by utilizing technology.
At the time, circa 2006, we thought the best way to introduce Montessori to a wider audience was by writing informative, compelling, educational blog posts. We doubled down and wrote as many as we could, blasting them across the internet.
Blogs were coming into their own in those days and people were really engaged in hearing stories from individuals, as opposed to organizations or institutions. They wanted the inside scoop from original voices. We were a two person, husband and wife team, with five students in a single classroom. We were the perfect candidates.
We set out to try to capture those special learning moments, not only in written form, but also by providing accompanying photographs to visually demonstrate the magical things that we were witnessing every single day. The things that all teachers see on a daily basis.
We wanted to make Montessori more relatable by helping as many people as possible understand what we thought made it so great. We later explored incorporating video into blog posts, but as you can see from one of these early takes, we were far from professional. Steady hands!
Around this time, we started to ask ourselves some pretty big questions. Why was Montessori not more widely known? What had prevented it from becoming the dominant system of public education, not only in the United States, but throughout the world? These were the types of questions that we were asking ourselves. How could we overcome these obstacles?
Then, something rather unexpected happened, something that futurists might have predicted, but that none of us could fully understand, at least not how it would come to completely integrate with our lives – the advent of mobile technologies.
Finally, we thought to ourselves as we watched Steve Jobs introduce the iPad, we have a mechanism by which to showcase glimpses of what makes the Montessori method so extraordinary. A mobile device with touch based technology. We can reach everyone!
Keeping in mind the context of our ambitions – to share with the world what we were learning from our students – and wanting everyone on the planet to see first hand how Montessori could positively affect the lives of their children, we set out to create the famous Montessori sandpaper letters on a digital device.
And so Intro to Letters was born.
We felt this, and its sister app Intro to Math, were the best introductions to Montessori. They provided logical entry points to helping children learn and having parents take a peek at what this amazing learning method was all about.
Intro to Letters takes its inspiration from the sandpaper letters, aptly named for the sandpaper outline of the letters. The main idea behind the activity is that a child will trace the letter with their finger, as they enunciate the sound it makes, not only visually remembering what they are working on, but physically absorbing the knowledge too.
There’s, perhaps, no better way to learn your ABC’s.
If you haven’t already, you can download Intro to Letters on iOS or Android for your mobile phone or tablet device.