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Montessori in a Minute: Sandpaper Letters

The Montessori Language curriculum embraces the ways young children explore and understand their world by using their senses. Montessori believes we should follow a student’s natural way of learning and help them understand a concept instead of relying on rote memorization. Therefore, in order for a learning material to be its most effective, it must appeal to children, fulfill their natural desire to touch and interact with it, and be able to use it to gain an understanding of the concept it is teaching. The Sandpaper Letters are a tool that engages three of your child’s senses: visual, auditory, and tactile.

The Value of Sandpaper Letters

Learning letter sounds and their written representations is the first step in language acquisition and literacy. Montessori introduces letters by their sounds instead of their names. For example, the letter “s” is introduced by its sound, “ess.” The letter’s name is introduced later. This places the emphasis on functionality rather than memorization. By knowing the letter sound first, children better understand how letters fit together to form words, blended sounds, and eventually sentences.

The Sandpaper Letters are uniquely suited for introducing the letters and their sounds. The letters are made from sandpaper on an otherwise smooth, thin wooden card. Teachers lay out one letter card and trace the letter with two fingers (pointer and middle together), with correct directionality as they would be written, and repeat the letter’s sound as they go. Students repeat to learn and feel the sound.

Students form muscle memory as they repeatedly trace the letters. The sensorial input from the sandpaper keeps them engaged. The contrasting colors of the card make the letters visually appealing. The sandpaper feeling is a unique texture many students are not familiar with, giving the activity a sense of novelty. The auditory input of making the letter sounds help the children connect each sound to its written representation. Without even knowing it, sandpaper letters lay the groundwork for letter writing and penmanship later on.

The Montessori in a Minute Series

Montessori schools have at least five key areas of learning in the Montessori environment: Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, Mathematics, and Culture. Montessori schools like Hudson Montessori School utilize specially designed tools, like those found in the Language section, to promote experiential and sensorial learning that students can repeatedly practice at each age level. Often, these tools are self-correcting, allowing the child to check their work and adjust accordingly.

This Montessori In A Minute series regularly explores the unique benefits of Montessori philosophy, its fundamental materials, and areas of the classroom. For all parents at Hudson Montessori School, the school hosts monthly Parent Education Nights to learn all about the Montessori method and how the students learn curriculum components using a Montessori framework.

To learn more about Hudson Montessori School’s interdisciplinary, theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for children age 2 to sixth grade, sign up for an open house tour.

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