Montessori at home: Sandpaper letters.
Sandpaper letters are a staple Montessori material and they are one of the first language materials introduced in the primary 3-6 group. They consist of small wooden tiles with a letter on one side in sandpaper. The traditional sandpaper letters were in cursive font, but now you can get print ones also.
As you will see in the pictures of our sandpaper letters, I DIY'D them with some card and glitter glue and they turned out just as purposeful and a lot cheaper than actual tiles. But the choice is yours of course.
The purpose of the sandpaper letters are to teach the letter symbols and connect them to their phonemic sounds. Sandpaper is used so the child can trace the letters and have a sensorial experience. Maria Montessori observed that children connect their hand and mind together to learn. Which is why so many Montessori materials are hands on.
If you want to know what comes before the sandpaper letters, I have a blog post about how children learn to read and write in Montessori which gives a very brief outline of the physical materials.
Sandpaper letters are not introduced all in one go, but rather in sets. Depending where you seek your information you will varying answers, mine are in this order
Set 1- s,m,a,t
Set 6- kqvxyz
You will place set 1 out infront of you and the child. You will choose one tile at a time and use two fingers to trace the letter whilst giving them the phonemic sounds, then offering the child a turn.
If you want to see a video presentation you can find one here on my instagram page.
This is the first period of the three period lesson, I have an easy visual here that explains the three period lesson. Then you will move on to the second period, then the third. When the child has mastered the first set, then you can introduce set 2 and repeat for all sets. Then you can have the whole sets out together for your child to practice.
Once your child has an understanding of most of sandpaper letter symbols and their phonemic sounds, then you can introduce them to the next language material, the movable alphabet, as well as doing extended activities with the sandpaper letters.
Sound games (I have a post on that here)
Matching letters to movable alphabet letters
Tracing the sandpaper letter, then writing it in a sand tray with their finger
Sand tray activity again but with a stylus.
Tracing the sandpaper letter, then trace on a chalkboard
Tracing the sandpaper letter, then writing on paper
Learning the correct order of the alphabetic letters
They are a much used and much loved material in all Montessori classrooms and homes and they are a vital stepping stone in the process of a child learning to read and write. Always follow your child's interests and developmental readiness, I've seen 6 year olds who still have no interest in letters, my son was interested around 2 and is currently on the tracing in a sand tray with his finger stage at nearly 3 years of age. Before they would even be introduced in a classroom so always follow your own child.
I believe Montessori is for everybody, I want to help everyone bring a little more Montessori into their homes and lives.
Montessoraus Mama. x