Materials Highlight: The Word Study Cabinet

Each month we highlight one of the amazing Montessori learning materials here on our blog. This week we take on a well-recognized feature in any lower elementary environment: the word study cabinet.

Typically housed in a tower of tiny labeled drawers, groups of cards allow children to study an important area of language, and to do so independently.

The Presentations

Perhaps it is easiest to start by listing the skills covered by the word study materials:

  • Compound words

  • Prefixes

  • Suffixes

  • Homophones

  • Homonyms

  • Homographs

  • Synonyms

  • Antonyms

  • Contractions

  • Syllabication

One of the most important parts of word study happens before a child even touches a drawer of cards. A small group of children gather with a guide, usually on the floor around a work rug. The teacher often has any number of supplies that may include strips of paper and markers, a small chalkboard or dry erase board, prepared booklets, charts, and so on. What the teacher brings varies depending on the lesson - and there are many!

Many of the skills listed above require more than one lesson to be given to each child over time, as their understanding increases. Each of these lessons can look very different.

Here is one way the concept of contractions might be presented to a child:

Using the movable al