Preschool is an important time in your child’s development, especially if you follow the Montessori method. Montessori encourages simple activities to help your child learn the basics of reading. One of the most accomplished reading materials developed by Maria Montessori is sandpaper letters.
You may have heard of the term before, but exactly are sandpaper letters? Keep reading to learn why you should be adding sandpaper letters to your child’s daily routine, and find out where you can find a quality set of your own.
What are Montessori Sandpaper Letters?
Using sandpaper letters is a popular activity that your child is likely to encounter in Montessori preschool.
Montessori sandpaper letters are letters of the alphabet cut out and put on pieces of wood. These letters are typically lower case to start because most of what we read and write is in lowercase, but some versions also include upper case letters that you can introduce as your child advances with their learning. You may even find that your child can figure out upper case letters without the use of additional sandpaper letters. Typically, the consonants are on blue wood, and the vowels are pink.
Simply put, the goal of Montessori sandpaper letters is for your child to learn the sound and shape of the letters to prepare your child to begin reading and writing, but that goal should not be the emphasis while starting your child off with this activity.
Why Use Montessori Sandpaper Letters?
Sandpaper letters are a great way to start teaching your child the alphabet. They’re simple to use and involve several of your child’s senses, namely:
- Visual senses
- Auditory senses
- Tactile senses
Sandpaper letters are an important part of your child’s learning and represent a transition towards developing other skills. Once your child masters the sound of each letter, reading will naturally come next and is often learned quickly.
The goal of this activity is for your child to trace the letters with their fingers to create muscle and visual memory while teaching the sounds of each letter for auditory memory. Your child eventually associates the sound with the shape, so they learn the alphabet and the sound of each letter.
Although the main goal of using Montessori sandpaper letters isn’t to teach your child how to read, the indirect result of using sandpaper letters is preparing your child for reading and writing.
The Best Montessori Sandpaper Letters
There are many options out there when it comes to buying sandpaper letters. Different options include:
- Upper case letters.
- Cursive letters.
- Combination of letters.
Let’s take a look at the best Montessori sandpaper letters to help develop your child’s understanding of letters and sounds.
Elite Montessori Lower and Capital Case Sandpaper Letters with Boxes
These sandpaper letters from Elite Montessori are not only great quality, but they include both lower and upper case letters, which will further help with your child’s development and understanding of the letters.
With these sandpaper letters, all lower case cards are pink while the uppercase cards are blue. To avoid sensory confusion for your child, if you choose to use this set, you should avoid using any other sets whose colors may conflict with this one.
MFM Toys Sandpaper Tactile English Letters Flashcards
These sandpaper letters from MFM toys are laminated, thick, and sturdy, so you can expect them to last long and survive anything your toddler may put them through. What makes these sandpaper letters unique is that they use a basic cursive font.
Writing in cursive proves to be a challenge to many children in school, but giving your child the opportunity to familiarize themselves with this writing style will put them at ease when they encounter cursive again. Using these Montessori sandpaper letters, your child learns to write the letters in free-standing format at first, but when it comes time to learn to write, it will be easier for them to connect the letters.
Adena Montessori Lower Case Double Sandpaper Letters
We all know how complicated the English language can be and that a single letter on its own can have a completely different sound when paired up with another one.
Although they might catch on to this as they attempt to spell new words, this is a concept that your child may have trouble grasping when first learning how to read and write, so it’s a great idea to give them the help they need to learn these sounds.
If your child seems to be breezing through the single letter sandpaper letters, before making the transition to reading and writing, let them master these double letter sandpaper letters.
This set of 16 Montessori sandpaper letters come on green wooden boards and contain several common dual letter combinations in the English language, including:
Once your child is ready, you can even combine two cards to form simple, familiar words. This provides a gentle introduction to reading that your child can control and grasp at their own pace.
Montessori Sandpaper Letters Foster Your Child’s Growth
If you aren’t interested in buying a new set of sandpaper letters, you can also make your own using textured materials. It’s a fun DIY project, and you can even customize them to suit your child’s personality.
Whether you purchase a set of sandpaper letters for your child or decide to make your own, this can be a beneficial activity to introduce your little one to the sounds of letters and help develop foundational reading skills. This multi-sense activity will be sure to give your child the confidence they need to continue in their education.