Sandpaper Letters Tutorial
We made a family effort to put together a set of sandpaper letters for my lovely niece in Costa Rica. She will be turning 3 very soon and it's high time to start learning the sounds!
The sandpaper letters are the first of the tactile language materials presented to a child in a Montessori 3-6 environment. They are meant to be practiced EVERY DAY with the child until they have mastered them.
The genius in this material lies in the fact that they appeal to the child's senses and they isolate one concept. When presenting each letter to the child, the adult traces and says the sound as the child watches. Then the child traces and says the sound. This means that for each sound the child will use the sense of sight, the tactile sense, and the auditory sense- it is a bombardment of the senses with a single piece of information.
3 letters are presented at a time, and the adult is meant to say the sound the letter makes instead of saying the name of the letter. This will facilitate the emerging reading process later on.
The letters are traced every time they are used to develop the child's muscular memory of formation of letters. When the child is ready to write with a utensil, their hand will remember how to make the letter because they have traced it so many times.
Here is how we made them:
I printed out a lower case alphabet (here) it is size 500 and the font is Primer Print. Primer print was the best font I had available on my computer- the b p q and d are a little short, so I elongated them later on when tracing.
I sandwiched a piece of carbon paper between the backside of a 200 grit piece of burgundy sandpaper (what was available), and the back side of the letter print outs. Then I traced the letters with a pen. The impression was left on the back side of the sandpaper. (The print out paper has to be placed backside up so that the letters will face the correct direction when cut out)
Meanwhile, my dad sawed out 26 little boards, 5 inch x 7 inch (approximately).
Then I glued the letters onto the boards (using spray mount glue).
My brother and I sanded the edges of the boards on the porch while my mom brought out hot tortillas with fresh cheese. Yum!
When they were all done, we found a basket where they fit nicely. And then my mom had a lesson on how to teach them. Best karma in these sandpaper letters ever.