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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

274              THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

on the back with the white strip. With this material words can
be composed by putting on the table one after another the letters
of the alphabet which correspond to each of the successive sounds
•that make up the spoken word. These letters are taken from the
compartment in the big box where they are kept. In order to
.initiate the child to this exercise the mistress gives a practical
demonstration. E.g. she says the word "mano," and then she
analyses the sounds pronouncing them separately: " m " . . . and
she takes the letter * m;' " a ". . . and she takes the * a' placing
it next to the other; " n "... " o "... ; she picks the letters one by
one pronouncing the sounds and thus she composes the word with
the alphabet. Now there are on the table the four letters in
successions; m—a—n—o.

Sometimes the child, having understood the procedure, rushes
in to finish the word himself instead of leaving the mistress to do
so. Almost all begin to compose words on their table after a few
lessons. They " ask " for words to be composed, and thus a kind
of dictation takes place.

The composition of words revealed facts that were a real
surprise. As if the spoken language already existing in the child
had been excited he showed great interest for his own language
and tried to analyse it. Children were seen walking by them-
.selves murmuring something; one said: "to make Zaira, 2 a i r a
are needed" and he pronounced the alphabetic sounds without
•material. He therefore did not aim at composing the word, but
;merely at analysing the sounds that made it up. It seemed a kind
,qf discovery: "The words we pronounce are composed of sounds."
;This activity can be aroused in all the children of about 4 years
of age. I remember a gentleman who asked his son on his return
from school, if he had been good (" buono "). The child answered:
" Buono ? b u o n o," i.e. instead of answering he started analysing
the word.

In the box of the movable alphabet the signs corresponding
.to those sounds are clearly seen; there we find the vowels disting-
'mshed from the consonants by thfcir colour and every sign has its