{Made For Learning} A Moveable Alphabet

Moveable Alphabets are one of the most important (and fun-to-use) tools in a Montessori-style schoolroom.  At least, that’s how our family feels about them.  And they are easy and fun to make at home.  Here’s how::

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Sort your letters - vowels from consonants. If you wish, put half of your "Y" s in each pile.


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Gesso, and two different colours of paint. I chose blue and red because they are more traditionally Montessori style (pink in place of red also works). You choose whichever colours you like.


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Paint each letter with a coat of gesso and allow to dry. The gesso comes right off of the brush with warm, soapy water.


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Paint two coats of coloured paint on each letter. Blue for vowels...


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

... and red for the consonants. Next, apply two coats of varnish. You will need to wait a minimum of one hour between coats.


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

A purpose-made or purchased box is best for storage, but something like this little box with a clasp will do for a time. You really do want something that will allow you to keep each letter separate... Like with like. I'll show you how to make a proper storage box in an upcoming tutorial.


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


Scrabble™ Tiles also make excellent upper case moveable alphabets – and it’s a great way to recycle!  You can also purchase blank tiles from Etsy – purchase alphabet transfers in the scrapbooking supply section of your craft store.  Simple varnish over the top, or apply a couple of layers of Mod Podge.


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet


{Made for Learning} | Moveable Alphabet

Your kids will be saying this about you, too. (Thanks, Will!)


Cut out wood letters available for just under $12 for each set of upper or lower case letters.  I suggest 1/8″ thick baltic birch letters in Arial, (Garamond and Rockwell are also available) – 2″ tall by 2″ wide. {These are my favourite ones, but more expensive}

Cut wood letters sold in packs of 36 are available at Michael’s crafts (and probably at Hobby Lobby) for about $4/pack.  I bought four packs.

Scrabble letters are available on Etsy, and eBay, and can also be found at neighbourhood yard sales, flea markets, and car boot sales.

{Made for Learning} Finger Paint

Do you remember finger paints when you were small?  I remember having little pots of paint, the cool semi-gelatinous texture, and a distinctive smell, not unlike play-doh.  I was five years old.

Finger painting is a wonderful way to introduce little ones to making art.  They have better control of their own fingers than they do a paint brush, and helps them to build a muscle memory of the way certain objects are formed in two dimensions.  Finger painting is an excellent way to re-enforce letter and number formation. It is also a wonderful way to teach children to mix colours.

As they get a little more advanced, finger painting can be a useful introduction to early figure drawing.

Of course, the extent of wonderful artistic activities is only limited by your imagination.  We’d sure love to see what you and your children make with your finger paints!

You’ll need::

  • 1 c. cornstarch
  • 1 c. grated soap (we use plain olive oil soap or goat’s milk soap)
  • 3 c. water
  • 1T. glycerine or white sugar
  • food dyes (we use India Tree plant-based food dye)
  • saucepan
  • bowl
  • wooden spoons
  • 3 flip-top squirt bottles

Also handy::

  • paint pallets
  • pad of large art paper

Gather your supplies... and your little helpers.


Pour your cornstarch (cornflour) into the pot...


and your sugar...


... and add 1 c. of water.


Stir and stir until completely dissolved.


Grate the soap


Luminous curly soap noodles (ours smell like sandalwood)


Add the soap curls to the pot.


Place pot over medium heat and stir constantly. As the mixture thickens, add as much of the remaining 2c. water to make the gel workable.


When it's ready, the mixture will be light and fluffy.


Divide the mixture evenly amongst 3 bowls (or however many you want).


Add food colouring to each bowl. We used 40 drops each, and obtained soft colours. Your results will vary depending upon the food colouring you choose. Paste colurants will give you the most vibrant colours.


Keep stirring until the colour is even.


Pour paint through a funnel into your bottles. Remember to thoroughly rinse the funnel between colours.



Take out the paper and fill the wells of the pallettes.


Magic time.


These finger paints can also be used in the bath!  Since they are soapy, they are also washable.  Lovely!



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