Do-It-Yourself Sandpaper Letters

Monkey has been driving me crazy in a good way.  He draws beautiful drawings of superheroes.  They’re detailed and wonderful to the best of his four year old abilities.  However, he sees his brother’s comic book style drawings with labels all over them, and he wants to label his drawings.

012 So he asks me questions like, “Mom, how do you spell Spiderman?”

I answer, “S-P-I….”

His reply?  “Mom, how do you draw an S?”

Sometimes I tell him and we trace it in the air.  Sometimes I draw the letters lightly on the paper for him to trace, but often he doesn’t want me messing with his drawings.

We’ve tried learning the alphabet twice, and we’re starting to try again (Hoping he’s ready this time!!).  However, I was looking for a solution for the current problem of how to help him draw the letters he wants to draw without taking over and drawing them for him.

Then, I remembered reading online about Montessori sandpaper letters a while back.  I thought, this could be the perfect way to bring the sensory aspect of tracing a letter onto sandpaper to get the curves of the letter down before allowing him to attempt to draw the letters on paper.  There are a million other sandpaper letter tutorials online, but I just wanted to share my experiences in case someone finds it helpful.

The first thing I did was to go to Hobby Lobby and buy red and blue cardstock.  It seems that in most tutorials one color is used for vowels and the other for consonants, but in my case, I decided to use red for lowercase letters and blue for uppercase letters.

I bought two pieces of each color cardstock and a package of sandpaper, so I probably spent about $6-7, but only used a page and a half of the five piece package of sandpaper, so I’d estimate the cost of these letters to be in the $3-4 realm.

You can find several free letter templates online.  I used the print one from Montessori Materials.

I began by cutting the cardstock into 4″ x 3″ rectangles.

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Next, I cut out the letters and traced them onto sandpaper.  Don’t forget to turn the letters over and trace the back of the letter onto the back of the sandpaper.

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Then, all I did was to cut the letters out and glue them onto the cardstock with a glue stick.  I’ve thought about sealing with mod podge, both as a way to ensure that the letters stay one the card stock and as a way to make the cardstock letters sturdier, but I haven’t done that at this time.

If you’re wanting to make sturdy long-term letters, I’d also recommend that you use tagboard or matte board instead of cardstock.

Sandpaper letters

For the most part, I plan on using these for Monkey to trace with his finger when he has a question of how a letter is made so that he can have a tactile way to get the letter into his head.

Rose has already noticed that the letters also make great rubbings too!  I told her that if she wanted to make rubbings of words she was learning to spell that would also be a great use of these letters.  So far, she’s mostly been interested in rubbing the alphabet though 🙂  Given the difficulty she’s had writing her letters without them being backwards, I think this might end up being a valuable addition to her writing arsenal as well.

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