Saturday, September 1, 2012

Montessori Sandpaper Tracing Letters

When it comes to educating my children I have caviar taste on a tuna fish budget. I really do.

I sometimes flip through catalogs and want, want, want, want, want. But since my family and I homeschool on a budget, I don't purchase. I drool, then I move on.

Sometimes though, I drool, get inspired, and move on to try a homemade version of something I'd love to buy. This is what I did with my homemade sandpaper letters.

For those who don't know, Maria Montessori advocated using tracing cards for children learning their letters to stimulate kinesthetic learning while encouraging letter recognition. This is super important for kids who aren't yet ready to handle the fine motor skills required to create letters on their own because it builds confidence in the literacy process.

As I tend to do, I jumped in with both feet and made my own set of letters. And they're great- we really like them and we're using them a lot. However, then I found this amazing post from Living Montessori Now which not only rounds up a whole bunch of great ways to make your own letters, but also provides links to the particular presentations and invitations for each letter. It's pretty awesome and you should check it out if you are thinking about making some sandpaper letters.

Here's the way I went about it:

I had some cardboard on hand, so I used that, along with some fine grit sandpaper, crazy glue, a permanent marker and a pair of scissors. I didn't use stencils, but you might want to because my letters came out looking- er- homemade. :)

 My cardboard was 8 1/2 x11, so I cut it in half.
 I used the marker to draw block letters on the back of the sandpaper (see why you might want to use stencils?). Remember- if you're making a letter that's possible to reverse then you'll need to draw it backwards on the paper.
 Then I cut out the letter and glued it, with special attention to the edges, onto the cardboard.
 Then, I asked the children to try tracing it with their fingers. (If you haven't watched the video in the link above, please do that now. Really- it shows just what to do in terms of introducing letter sounds.)

 Keep the scraps for a touch collage- instructions to follow.


  1. I keep debating making these... Is it hell on your scissors?

    1. Well, I can honestly say that it wasn't the absolute friendliest thing I've ever done to my scissors, but it also didn't trash them. I used a heavier grit sandpaper than I recommend using in the directions too, so if I used a heavier duty sandpaper and it still didn't trash my scissors, then I think it's OK to try. Plus, the benefits are great- even my 19 month old loves tracing the letters with her hands after watching her sister do preschool. It's great!

  2. Love this idea! But I think I'll make this with felt.



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