Sunday, April 19, 2009

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.


Veronica said...

Thank you for the PDF! Can't wait to make this for my little one.

One question, when you said you elongated the b p q and d, did you elnogate them on the PDF or just as you cut them?

Well, I'm off to have some warm tortillas and cheese as well!

Susanne said...

Hi Veronica,

I just traced them a little longer on the sandpaper before cutting them. Even if you didn't do it they'd still look pretty proportional, but I thought they could be a tad longer.

Bon apetit!


melissa said...

What a lovely gift!

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Yvonne said...

I've been looking for dimensions of the boards FOREVER!!!! Thank you so much! Now I can hurry up and finish my boards for my son who just turned 2!

Rose said...

Wow! Those are so beautiful and what a team effort! I love that.

I have always wanted to make these but never had a good idea of how to get the letters transferred to the sandpaper. Thanks!

Evelyne said...

Thank you.
I try to make it for my classroom.

Happy sunday from Paris.

Deb Chitwood said...

Great job with your sandpaper letters – and great tutorial for the DIYers! I linked to your tutorial at Living Montessori Now in my post for the July Teach/Learn Blogging Carnival.

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Blog Squad @ Kids Matter said...

Thanks so much. I am doing a blog post on I Love to Write Day (11/15/10 and will be featuring your great tutorial.
Love your blog!

vegasgrrl24 said...

That's a village!

Sarah said...

What a great project! I'm definitely going to have to make these with my dad for my nanny-stash. I love Montessori! Thank you for the pdf. :)