Our Montessori alphabet box is one of my all-time favorite homeschool DIY projects. I was originally inspired to make my own box after checking them out on Amazon and Etsy, and then reading an excellent DIY post by Wildflower Ramblings.
Montessori alphabet boxes can be used for all sorts of activities, including early phonics, sorting, storytelling, etc. Right now what I like to do is take two letter drawers out that represent very distinctly different sounds (M and D, for instance), mix up the items, and then let Bryn sort bthem. She also likes to just grab a bunch of the tiny items to play with, and when she’s done, we work together to put them back in the proper drawers.
The first thing you will want to do when making an alphabet box for your homeschool is to find the right container with enough compartments. I found a black 30-drawer hardware and craft cabinet on Amazon for $33. But now they have a nicer-looking one in white that’s on sale for less than $20!
This is the white one I would buy if I were making an alphabet box today (affiliate links):
If that one sells out, here is the black one I bought:
I use the extra drawers for CH, SH, TH and WH, which are called consonant digraph sounds. From what I have read, these sounds are typically not mastered until around second grade, so we are not concentrating on them very much right now. Those four extra drawers are just right for this purpose though!
At the time, the only craft cabinet I could find was ugly black, so I had to make it pretty. I took all the drawers out and my husband helpfully spray painted the box in a cheery coral gloss finish using Rustoleum 2X Ultra Cover Paint+Primer. I have to include a caveat here — it took forever, and I mean days and days, for the paint to fully cure. So be sure to plan ahead so that you don’t have problems with your paint being tacky and damaging the finish. This particular spray paint us supposed to bond well with plastic, and eventually it did cure to a durable finish.
I found the most adorable, colorful puffy alphabet stickers at Dollar Tree, which I carefully centered and stuck to each drawer. Bryn got to help with this part of the project, although it did drive me a little nuts because I wanted everything to be just perfect! We have enough stickers to label the CH and SH drawers, although I haven’t labeled the last two digraph drawers yet. We don’t have items to put in those drawers anyway, so it’s not a big deal right now.
Finally, you get to fill the drawers! Does anyone love tiny little objects and toys as much as I do? If you have multiple children, this might be really easy for you when you start looking at random tinies like Barbie shoes or little Lego bits and pieces.
Here are some ideas for filling your Montessori alphabet box:
- Playmobil accessories
- Lego minifigs, accessories
- Barbie accessories
- Safari Toob animals, instruments, monuments, etc.
- Littlest Pet Shop accessories
- Dollhouse accessories
- Dollar stores, JoAnn’s and Michaels, or other craft sources
- Target’s Dollar Spot (watch out for those puzzle erasers that come apart easily)
- Small household items, screws, nails, keys, etc.
- Bits from nature, leaves, small pinecones, acorns, etc.
- Pieces from old board games
- Miscellaneous craft items, pipe cleaners, beads, yarn, string, etc.
Because Bryn is an only child, we didn’t really have a lot of toys with small pieces. So I had to get creative. Rather, I went to the ultimate source of small-business creativity: Etsy.
At the time, I was thinking of a number of color-themed projects (including Eye Spy games, which I will post about soon), so I purchased packages of kawaii trinkets from Adorabilities. In my note to Ariana, I requested 10 color-sorted grab bags with 25 larger items each, preferably 3D without jump rings, new or vintage, without a lot of plain beads. For your alphabet box, you can just order a couple of her Eye Spy trinket sets. I’d just send a note and tell her what it’s for, and ask for no duplicates.
Once you’ve labeled and filled the drawers of your alphabet box, you can just keep adding to it over time as you find new bits and pieces. If you want to add words that are harder to find, you could always print and laminate small pictures. (If you homeschool, I assume you own a laminator.) You might also want to include some small letter pieces in each drawer for one-to-one matching.
Not sure you want to make your own Montessori alphabet box for your homeschool? Here are some other options for you (affiliate links):
If you like this project, be sure to Pin it! I hope you enjoy making your DIY Montessori alphabet box as much as we did. Please post a comment, share a picture of your finished project on the Homeschool Sherpa Facebook page or tag me on Instagram.
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