More than just a beautiful tactile tool, the sandpaper letters are an introduction to the sounds and shapes of each letter of the alphabet. The sandpaper letters work as a prelude to writing. Read more about this simple, yet impactful material below.
The sandpaper letters found in a Montessori classroom are made from the finest grain sandpaper on thin wooden plate. The consonants are mounted onto a pink background, while the vowels are found on blue. Each letter is presented individually, and in cursive. The purpose of this is to isolate what the child is learning without confusing her. The introduction of the cursive writing before printed writing has to do with both the ease with which the child can begin writing (connecting letters to make words with cursive is much easier!), and because the child is already exposed to the printed version of these letters in the books she looks at with her parents, the signs she sees while driving in the car, and just about anywhere else she may see printed words!
Teaching a child sounds and letters is a multi-sensory approach with sandpaper letters. The phonetic version of the letter is taught to the child: “Can you find the ‘yuh’?” The child traces the letter with two fingers. Through this exercise, the child sees, feels, and hears the letter, experiencing it in many ways at once. She even gains muscle memory while tracing the well-formed letters, laying the foundation for good handwriting!
Read more about why Montessori introduces writing before reading here, see a similar lesson being used by Villa di Maria’s reading specialist, Tricia Jöstlein, here, and see how writing begins and progresses in the Montessori classroom here!