The Sandpaper Letters are iconic in the Montessori classroom, and a child's first steps towards literacy.
The Sandpaper Letters are stuff of legend in the Montessori classroom. Typically one of the first materials a child is presented with in the language area, they bestow a sense of accomplishment and pride, “I’m learning letters!”.
Physically, the letters are wooden squares, 6.25 x 4.75 inches, with the vowels on a background of blue and the consonants on a light pink field. The shapes of the letters themselves are crafted of a high-grit sandpaper, offering the child a point of interest as their fingers follow the gentle slopes of the cursive letters.
In the Montessori classroom, letters have both sounds and names. A presentation of the letter “c” for example, might go like this, “This is ‘c’ (hard like cat). Let’s think of things that start with this sound. Cat, color, cucumber…” As the child progresses through all of the sounds of the letters, they are then presented with the name. “The name of this letter is C, its’ sound is ‘c’.”
Sandpaper letters are typically presented to a single child, but can be an interesting group activity as well.
Intro to Letters, by Montessorium is an excellent way to combine the work in the classroom with an activity at home on the iPad or iPhone. It’s available for download now on iTunes!
After a child masters the Sandpaper Letters, it’s time create words and thoughts using the Moveable Alphabet.