262 THE MONTESSORI METHOD
able. We had only one copy of this wooden alphabet; but there were a number of cards upon which the letters were painted in the same colours and dimensions as the wooden ones. These painted letters were arranged upon the cards in groups, according to contrast, or analogy of form.
Corresponding to each letter of the alphabet, we had a picture representing some object the name of which began with the letter. Above this, the letter was painted in large script, and near it, the same letter, much smaller and in its printed form. These pictures served to fix the memory of the sound of the letter, and the small printed letter united to the one in script, was to form the passage to the reading of books. These pictures do not, indeed, represent a new idea, but they completed an arrangement which did not exist before. Such an alphabet was undoubtedly most expensive and when made by hand the cost was fifty dollars.
The interesting part of my experiment was, that after I had shown the children how to place the movable wooden letters upon those painted in groups upon the cards, I had them touch them repeatedly in the fashion of flowing writing.
I multiplied these exercises in various ways, and the children thus learned to make the movements necessary to reproduce the form of the graphic signs without writing.
I was struck by an idea which had never before entered my mind — that in writing we make two diverse forms of movement, for, besides the movement by which the form is reproduced, there is also that of manipulating the instrument of writing. And, indeed, when the deficient children had become expert in touching all the letters