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Montessori Sandpaper Letters - To Buy or DIY?

To buy or to DIY - it's an age old Montessori parenting question! And, I think it's one that a lot of parents ask themselves especially when considering traditional Montessori materials for their homes. These materials are often limited in purpose and just plain expensive. For a Montessori classroom, it makes sense to buy a lot of the real versions of Montessori materials, but as a parent should you? This is a complicated question because everyone's situation is so different. And, for me, I make a material by material analysis before deciding for my own family. In this post, I wanted to share that analysis with the sandpaper letters, in particular. 

The sandpaper letters are a Montessori preschool activity that can help support reading and writing. Heres a look at DIY and traditional options.

First, what are the Montessori sandpaper letters? Traditionally, they are wooden cards with letters printed on them. These letters are rough like sandpaper to give a tactile impression to a child. The child traces the letter and repeats the letter's sound. The tactile feel of the letter helps the child to internalize its shape and will help with writing the letter later on. Typically the vowels are blue and the consonants are pink. 

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There are a ton of options on the market for buying both traditional sandpaper letters, and Montessori inspired tactile letters. They come in both cursive and print options.
But, there are also TONS of amazing options to DIY sandpaper letters. Basically, this can be done a virtually unlimited way! As long as the letters are clear, and have a tactile component, it works! Here are some DIY versions:
When I think about DIY vs. buy, I ask myself a few questions: How many children are going to use these materials? How many different ways can we use these materials? How much time will it take and effort will it take to DIY? Do I have the skills to DIY? How cheaply can I find these materials? Can I sell these materials when I am finished with them? Can I find these used or preowned? Do I have something that I can use instead of these materials to fill the same purpose? Is this something my kids really need if they are going to Montessori school?

The sandpaper letters are a Montessori preschool activity that can help support reading and writing. Heres a look at DIY and traditional options.

It basically comes down to, can I get the materials for an affordable price, will a DIY hold up to use by the children, and do I have the skills to make it? The answers to these questions really will depend on each family and each material. 

I happened to have found a set of traditional cursive sandpaper letters many years ago used for a decent price. Knowing that I was going to have multiple kids use them, and the fact that we were homeschooling at the time, I decided it was worth the cost. 

Now, I don't know that I would make the same choice since we don't typically homeschool. The sandpaper letters are used for a relatively short time (compared to the moveable alphabet, for example) and they are a super easy DIY. I would probably just DIY them to support our learning at home if sending my children to school. If I was a homeschooler, I probably would buy a traditional set again. 

The sandpaper letters are a Montessori preschool activity that can help support reading and writing. Heres a look at DIY and traditional options.

Have you made or bought a set of sandpaper letters?


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