Thursday, July 17, 2014

DIY Montessori Sandpaper letters @ $10

The Practical Mom: DIY Montessori Sandpaper letters @ $10
Homemade Sandpaper letters

My kid's preschool uses the Reggio Emilia approach, but there are interesting ways to adapt the Montessori way at home accordingly to "Help your pre-schooler build a better brain byJohn Bowman". It's not an attempt to "home school" him, but an attempt to engage his mind in interesting activities. Once those are in place, sprinkled over a few hours, it is easy (read: less difficult) to be around an over enthusiastic toddler.

I really liked the book cuz I got so many of ideas of setting up activities some as easy as - jump from one floor tile to another! And many activities such as sorting could be set up from things already available at home. The original Montessori Equipment is quite interesting but way too steeply priced for residential use. But I figured something like Sandpaper letters (an excellent tool to begin reading and writing) could be easily made at home at a fraction of the cost.

I have seen this learning material only online and haven't seen the real thing up close, so I could only guess the size, etc. What I could definitely make out was that 

(1) They need to be on a smooth wooden surface (so the cardboard option is out) and the letters need to be in sandpaper, felt, yarn or glitter glue, so when a child traces the letters with his fingers over and over again, the muscle memory gets imprinted in his brain. 

(2) The color codes were clear: pink for consonants, blue for vowels and green for numbers.  

(3) There needs to be some space for the child to hold the template on the left, assuming he is right handed. The size was a guess, but I thought 6"X4" was reasonable one.        

Materials collected

So I took a stroll in the neighbour market area. First walked up to a plywood store, quickly scanned the stacks of boards, pointed to a thin MDF board and said I want these cut up in 6"X4"  templates. And while the carpenter took his time cutting, I went to the stationary store to buy some acrylic paint & a hardware store to pick up sandpaper. I always assumed sandpaper was a dirty yellow but was relieved to see it in black, while I traced imaginary lines on various types to figure which hurts the least (the coarse one burned!) the shop keeper stared open mouthed "but what do you need it for?" (Hehe). Then I picked up the parcel of neatly cut templates and headed home to begin my experiment.

I'm not a painter, but I think I can paint a plain template to save a life. I almost thought of giving up and pasting colored chart paper over the templates! But it didn't look that terrible. While the paint dried I cut letters from the print outs I had taken from this link for alphabets and this link for numbers and then traced the mirror image on sandpaper backs to cut sandpaper letters. (Unlike some blogs I didn't find cutting sandpaper difficult at all, It wasn't any different from cutting paper, so it's good that I didn't resort to felt, yarn or glitter glue!).

First batch, first coat!
Snip, snip, snip

I hate using feviquick cuz that hot glue ends up at the wrong places, but figured it would be better to use "invisible" glue and not the white fevicol to avoid messy white smudges on the borders of letters. So after all the painting, cutting and sticking, this is what I got:
The Practical Mom: DIY Montessori Sandpaper letters @ $10
First Batch! (Preserving the stencil cut outs for later use) 

After trying out sandpaper letters for a few days, I realised I need to modify the original montessori teaching method to complement my kid's pre-existing knowledge of alphabets:

1. Montessori method teaches phonetic names of alphabets before names of alphabets: but my kid knew his ABCs long before I read anything about montessori. therefore it won't serve any purpose to make him unlearn the "names" of alphabets to learn the "phonetic" name. When I made him say the C-sound for instance, he kept correcting me with the name of the letter C. Hence I think it is better to say "this is C and what sound does C make? *C-sound* as in cat."

2. Montessori method teaches lowercase before uppercase: but my kid had been familiarized with uppercase only. So although it's time to introduce lowercase, it makes sense to be introduced alongside capital letters, i.e "Aa" instead of just "a"(this is how his preschool is teaching too). So instead of making new templates for uppercase altogether, I am planning to paste the uppercase sandpaper cut-outs in the space next to the lower case.

3. Montessori method teaches three alphabets at a time: but because he will be tracing two letters at a time (A and a) I'll introduce one or two alphabets at a time, probably along with associated pictures or objects.

See! Crafts are not just therapeutic but what's also great is you can customize accordingly to your needs! So although this wasn't a money saving scheme, let's compare market price v/s Do-it-yourself:

Market price for 1 set each of lowercase, uppercase & numbers= Rs. 4,500 ($75)

DIY for 3 sets : 75 Wooden templates ₹250 + cutting charges ₹100 + Sandpaper (₹15 X 5 nos) ₹75 + Acrylic paint (₹18 X 12 nos, as one paint bottle painted five templates) ₹216= ₹641 i.e. $10!

For my post on DIY Color Tablets click here DIY Red Rods click here

Until later! Stay in touch!

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  1. Hi, I noticed you linked up this and your Paint by Word post in the #pin-it section of the #bloggerspotlight, I just wanted to let you know that the first link section is for blog links, the second is for pinterest links only. I wanted to make sure you knew because I would hate you to miss out on being featured for not posting the correct pinterest link. Thanks for stopping by and I pinned them both to our group board anyway :)

  2. Many times DIY-ing things will save a lot of money. This letters are so cute and bold. Thank you for sharing with us at #HomeMattersParty. We would love to have you again next week.

  3. These are so cool! I want to make these for my daughter.

    Thanks for linking up at #bloggerspotlight, I pinned this to our group board. Don't forget to link up again on Thursday night.