Watch Your P's and Q's - Montessori Sandpaper Letters

Well, for my next trick . . .

How to make your own Montessori-recommended Sandpaper Letters! Over the past few years, my daughter and I have been working on reading. One of the challenges for many younger kids is being able to tell the difference between the lowercase letters b & d, and p & q. Lots of early readers get confused by these, and I've been told that it doesn't mean dyslexia but is often grown out of eventually. Still, I've been advised that giving the little reader some tactile opportunities can help.

As usual, I didn't feel like spending $30 on a ready-made set. And, on the morning I decided to make my own sets, I couldn't find any fresh sandpaper around the house (When presented with some free time, sometimes I cannot wait till I have all the pieces, or I'll never get around to a project). But, I did have tons of those little paint sample cards that you get from the hardware store (I just cannot bring myself to throw those things away).

And some of the paint chips were textured. Eureka!

I didn't have any lowercase letter stencils handy either; but if you have carbon paper and a printer, you don't need to buy stencils really. Just print out your desired letters in a really large font (I used Arial Narrow).

Keep in mind, unless you plan to make your cutting marks on the good side (colored front) of your paint chips, you'll want to make your homemade letter templates backwards. If you don't have a drawing program w/ a text tool that allows you to do this, another way is to print out your large letters, scan 'em in, save 'em as an image and flip the image before printing it out.Once I had my backwards letters, I just used a sheet of carbon paper to mark my lines on the back of my paint chips, then cut them out with scissors. And I used a razor knife for those tricky little niches, to make a sharper cut.

Oh, BTW, for this example, I did make use of my set of capital letter stencils, which I found (on clearance, of course) in the home improvement section at Walmart.

And once I got all my letters cut out (I did not attempt to do the entire alphabet this time, but you could!), I had some fun picking out other paint sample chips with interesting contrasting colors on which to glue my letters. I used a glue stick in this example, but it might be advisable to use good old liquid Elmer's so you can make sure all those edges are secured. That way they'll better survive the explorations of little fingers.

I should mention that I am indebted to the delightful homeschooling blog called The Snail Trail for the idea of using paint chips, with their wonderful What's in the [work]BOX?: Handmade Word Family Game.

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