What are the Sandpaper Letters?

What are the Sandpaper Letters?

October 12, 2023
In this work, a student traces the sandpaper letter, repeats the sound that the letter makes, and then traces that letter shape with her finger inside the grain box.

Language is an important part of your child’s early education! Each child is on their way to learning to read and write, and these Sandpaper Letters serve as the cornerstone of the Montessori language arts materials.

What are they?

  • The 26 individual letters of the alphabet made of sandpaper on colored boards. The blue boards are to indicate vowels, and the pink are for consonants.
  • This coloring of vowels and consonants is present in all of the beginning language materials in the classroom to build the child’s impressions and memories, to prepare them for success.
  • The adult gives the child a three period lesson to introduce the shapes of each sound.
  • They continue with these lessons (a few a day) until the child knows all the letters of the alphabet.
  • The children are introduced to printed letters as well as cursive.


“When a teacher has a child see and touch the letters of the alphabet, three sensations come into play simultaneously: sight, touch, and kinesthetic (muscular) sensation. This is why the image of the graphic symbol is fixed in the mind much more quickly than when it is acquired through sight in the ordinary methods.” – Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child, p. 213

Why do we do this?

  • To give the child the symbols for the sounds of his own language by means of three senses: touch, vision, and hearing.
  • It is a gross motor preparation for handwriting.

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