Sandpaper Letters - Introduction
- Placed in the curriculum as a parallel exercise to insets for design.
- The letters of the alphabet cut out in the finest sandpaper (or the
same effect gained commercially by another method) mounted on a strong
background. The vowels are mounted on a pale blue card and the consonants
on a pale pink background. The letters are mounted with sufficient space
on either side to hold them steady. They can be used by either right-handed
or left-handed children.
- A simple cursive letter is used. The children learn to write simple
cursive letters from the beginning. They write the letters separately at
first. Later, when ready to join their letters, they can do so without
difficulty. At the same time, as these are a simple cursive letter, the
children will have no difficulty in recognizing the printed letters they
will meet in books.
- To learn the sound and shape of the letters of the alphabet. To gain
a muscular memory of the shape of the letters as a prelude to writing.
- 4 and onwards.
- With the sandpaper letters the teacher will introduce the phonetic
sounds to the child. Centuries ago, the Phoenicians discovered that they
could represent each of the sounds of language with a symbol. This was
a great discovery since it meant that any word could be represented by
a few symbols. No longer would a new symbol have to be invented for every
word and idea. Written language would not be such a monumental task of
memorization. Any new word could be figured out because it would be made
up of symbols already known. And so, today, anyone who knows how to sound
out words can decode any new word they confront. Eighty per cent of the
time, letters use the phonetic sound. A child who can use this knowledge
is far ahead of the child who is taught through a "Look/Say"
approach. The child taught through a "Look/Say" approach is limited
to the words he has been specifically taught and his ability to remember
- In the Montessori approach, the sounds of the letters are taught before
the child is introduced to the names of the letters. Research has shown
that it is best to learn one thing at a time. It is too much to have to
remember both names and sounds. If the child is taught both the names and
the sounds in the beginning, it has been found that the child gets confused
when trying to sound out a word because it is difficult to remember which
the letter represents. Therefore, to avoid the added difficulty, the phonetic
sound of each letter is taught first, and the names of the letters are
taught later. In addition, since some letters can represent more than one
sound, the other sounds which are less frequently used than the phonetic
sound are also taught later. In this way, the child only has to learn one
sound for each letter in the beginning.
- In addition, since sounds obviously occur in all parts of words, children
are led to hear the sounds in the different parts of a word. It is a mistake
to think that it is easier for children to listen to or identify just the
beginning letter of a word. But more than this, it is an error to mislead
children into thinking that they only have to listen for the first sound.
Children need to hear sounds in all parts of a word. Therefore, in the
Montessori approach, the children are led to hear how the sounds they are
learning occur in different parts of words. With this practice they soon
begin to realize the sequence of sounds in words.
- The teaching of the sounds and letters is through a multi-sensory approach.
The child will hear the sound, see its representation in the form of a
letter, and feel the way it is written as the child feels the letter with
his fingers. Since a motor pattern should be learned correctly the first
time, it is very important that the child trace properly formed letters.
This will help him develop a good pattern for handwriting. Therefore, a
basic form of the cursive letter is used. In this way, when a child changes
from writing the letters without connecting strokes to a connected cursive
style, rather than change his motor pattern by changing from a ball and
stick form of letter to a more flowing curvilinear letter, the child will
only have to extend the pattern of writing he is already using by adding
connecting strokes instead of also having to reform the letters. As a result,
the only difference for the child between his "print" and his
"cursive" writing will be the addition of the connecting strokes
to complete the cursive style. So, the letters will be made as follows:
- Capital letters will be introduced later. The teacher must be careful
not to introduce too much at a time.