Tracing Sandpaper Letters Montessori
Tracing Sandpaper Letters Montessori – Buy or DIY – it’s the old Montessori parenting question! And I think this is what many parents ask themselves when considering traditional Montessori materials for their homes. These products are often limited in scope and plain expensive. For a Montessori classroom, purchasing authentic versions of Montessori materials makes sense, but should you as a parent? This is a complicated question because everyone’s situation is so different. Also, for me, I create a product through material analysis before deciding for my own family. In this post, I wanted to share that analysis with sandblasted letters.
First, what are Montessori sandpaper letters? Traditionally, they are wooden cards with characters printed on them. These letters are as rough as sandpaper to give a tactile impression to a child. The child finds the letter and repeats the sound of the letter. The tactile feel of the letter helps the child absorb the shape and then write the letter. Usually vowels are blue and consonants are pink.
Tracing Sandpaper Letters Montessori
There are many options on the market for both traditional sandpaper letters and Montessori-inspired tactile letters. They come in cursive and print options.
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But there are also tons of wonderful options for DIY sandpaper letters. Basically, it can be done in almost unlimited ways! As long as the letters are legible and have tactile elements, it works! Here are some DIY versions:
DIY vs. When I think about a purchase, I ask myself a few questions: How many children are going to use these products? In how many different ways can we use these materials? How much time and effort does DIY take? Do I have DIY skills? How cheap can I find these items? Can I sell these items once I’m finished? Can I find out if these are used or pre-owned? Is there anything I can use instead of these ingredients to fill the same purpose? Is this really necessary if my children attend a Montessori school?
It basically comes down to, can I get the materials affordably, do I have a DIY for the kids to use, and do I have the skills to make it? The answers to these questions really depend on each family and each product.
Several years ago I found traditional cursive sandpaper letters used for a good price. Knowing that I was going to have several kids using them and that we were homeschooling at the time, I decided it was worth the cost.
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Now, I don’t know that I would make the same choice because we don’t usually homeschool. Sandpaper letters are used for a relatively short period of time (compared to movable letters, for example) and are a very easy DIY. When sending my kids to school, I DIY them to support our learning at home. If I were a homeschooler, I would buy a traditional set again. Sandpaper letters are displayed in a classroom in a box or sometimes on a small ledge. Consonants are in pink and vowels in blue. The guide selects three letters with very different shapes and different sounds and takes them to a table with a child.
We start with a game. Let’s think of words starting with “m”. Math, monkey, museum, mom… Want to see what “m” looks like? It’s “me.” We use letter sounds rather than letter names because a child is already hearing sounds, and the ear is fine-tuned and the unique sounds are the hallmarks of forming words. Letter names are important, but come after a child works to match the code (letter) to the sound.
Using the index and middle finger of the dominant hand we trace the pattern and eventually say the sound of the letter.
The other two characters are introduced in the same way. Let’s review letters with a game called a three-period lesson, where we say, “Touch ‘a.’ Trace ‘m.’ Give me ‘t.'” Ask the child, “What is this?” We play this a few times before asking, If the child gets the letters right, we can move on to three more or invite the child to find the letters or put them aside and choose a new work that matches them.
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If the child can’t identify the letters correctly, that’s okay too! We can keep playing or we can make note of these letters and try again another day. It’s another step on the road to literacy!
The child learns the shape of letters. We’ve already played games with sounds, identifying colors that start with “b” and animals that start with “d.” Now, we connect the sound that a child already knows, with a visual symbol – a letter.
By tracing, a child prepares for handwriting. They make the same movements, only writing letters in smaller sizes – from large to small on the chalkboard, to small on paper.
Subscribe to our bi-monthly digital Montessori zine. Each week, you’ll receive a concise, curated email with links to popular and popular interviews, commentary, spotlights, quotes and photos. Montessori language materials for ages 3 to 6 are amazing! They break down the process of learning to read and write so beautifully. Each object meets a child where they are at that moment. As you may know, I shared parts of Gus’ journey with Montessori reading and writing and how we support that journey at home. And, finally, we’ve reached the sandpaper letters!
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Late last fall, when Gus turned 3, I introduced him to sandpaper letters. We will be working with them throughout the school year and it is my hope that she will have a solid foundation for Children’s Home this year. Well, then covid happened and he got some work with them, but not as much as I thought. So, he still works with them today (albeit in a slightly different capacity – I’ll share how soon!)
We use cursive sandpaper letters here at home because they are first introduced to cursive at school. I’m a firm believer in the power of cursive for other reasons. But print is absolutely the right choice. I think it’s really important to stick with one or the other when you’re introducing, and you’re introducing it right. Sandblasted Letters are a super easy DIY!
To introduce, I introduced two letters at a time using the Montessori 3-period lesson. If you are not familiar with the 3-period lesson, in brief:
Depending on the child and the task being presented, you can move through all stages of the 3-period course in one presentation. Or, you can move only part of it and get back to work on the next steps when the baby is more ready.
Montessori Upper Case Sandpaper Tracing Aplphabet Letters
I followed his instructions and introduced new letters every week. I put the letters in a small pile on a tray on the shelf. In a classroom, they can be displayed so they can all be seen easily. We don’t have that kind of room in our house.
And, that’s it! That’s how we introduce sandpaper letters here at home! In my next post, I’ll share some of the follow-up work I used with Gus. I help him return to the sandpaper alphabet without adult influence. You’ve no doubt seen a variety of alphabet tracing boards for sale online. Even Target has jumped on the wooden letter tracing board bandwagon!
Letter tracing boards usually have grooves for tracing letters with a finger or using a wooden stick or tracing tool. There’s even a version with metal beads and a magnetic pen. Or, you can choose a chalkboard with colored letters that your child can trace with chalk.
You can choose an uppercase or lowercase tracing board. Some versions have cursive letters instead of print letters. Some handmade alphabet tracing boards are also double-sided, with lowercase letters on one side and larger letters on the back.
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Spend any time on Instagram and Pinterest and you’ll start to believe that you need all the things you need if you want to help your preschooler learn letters at home.
I polled the parents who follow me on Instagram, and 94% of them said they struggle to know which alphabet toys are worth buying for their toddler or preschooler.
Thanks to the toy industry, you may feel like your toddler or preschooler is missing out if you don’t provide a variety of alphabet puzzles, blocks, flashcards, stamps, magnetic letters, etc. for learning the ABCs.
What if your toddler isn’t interested or “bored” of those alphabet toys? Of course you start