Preschool is in full swing and the children are learning Zoo Phonics along with all the other activities they are engaged in. Zoo Phonics letters are reviewed during circle time and then related activities are offered at the language arts table during center time.
I’ve been doing some research about different early childhood programs and have found some wonderful activities to do with kids. One of the activities provided in Montessori programs is sand paper tracing letters. I’m not really sure the idea originated with Montessori since I remember making them in one of my elementary education methods classes many years ago. However, they are a staple teaching resource in Montessori programs.
The Zoo Phonics program teaches children lower case letters and their sounds using auditory, kinesthetic, and visual means. The sand paper letters adds another sensory input for the child to learn the letters. Children trace the letters with their finger while saying the letter’s sound. Some sites I read state that children who use this method of learning letters also tend to develop good handwriting.
I found several sites that sell the sand paper letters, but I wanted some that support our Zoo Phonics curriculum so decided to make them. The letters were printed, cut, then glued to a wood rectangle with a glue stick. A Super Gel Pen Adhesive was used to trace the letters. Red and blue sand was then sprinkled over the super glue. A layer of Mod Podge was applied over the wood tile to hold the sand in place. Montessori usually uses red for consonants and blue for vowels, so I used similar colors. Zoo Phonics teaches children that vowels are the hardest workers, so children will begin to recognize vowels by the blue color. All of the supplies to make the letters were purchased at Michaels.
Montessori uses moveable letters in their classroom in addition to the sand paper letters. Moveable letters are individual letters Children use to create words. I’m making 6 sets of the sand paper letters which will also serve to be a moveable alphabet.