Montessori Sandpaper Numbers are individual cards containing numbers in raised sandpaper. This is one of the core Montessori activities which familarises children with the look and formation of each number, and adds to their muscle memory of the numbers in preparation for writing. Maria Montessori recognised critical periods in a child’s development where tactile and senses are most sensitive, and created multi-sensory materials such as sandpaper numbers and letters. They are designed to teach symbol recognition and writing by integrating touch, sight and sound.
According to the Montessori approach, children are suited to be introduced to sandpaper writing from the age of 2.5 years to 4. When I first started my girl on the sandpaper letters, I was amazed at its effectiveness of these tactile numbers. When she looks at the numbers, traces them with her two first fingers, and says out the numbers, she receives visual, tactile and auditory input all within the same exercise. This kind of sensory input helps the child get the information into her long term memory.
Instructions on how to use sandpaper numbers
1. (Optional) Have your child wash her hands with warm water. This helps their hands to be sensitive to touch.
2. For new beginners, show them how to feel the numbers, using a light continuous touch of the index and middle fingers of the dominant hand, and to hold the card steadily with the other hand.
3. You will first demonstrate by tracing the number with your fingers, then say out the number. Do this 3 times
4. Have your child repeat what you did. Allow time for the child to practice tracing the numbers
Tip: I like to start with numbers with straight lines first (like 1, 4, 7), followed by those with curves.
Tracing numbers on a cornflour tray.
A nice practice tool is the cornmeal tray. Choose a tray or dish with raised edges and pour in a thin layer of cornflour. As they trace out the sandpaper numbers, they can repeat the same marks with their finger in the cornflour tray. These help your child to familiarise herself with the directionality and motion of writing the numerals in a sensorial manner.
Writing numbers on a mini-blackboard with chalk
This is probably one of the my preschooler’s favourite writing activity. After learning how to trace the sandpaper numbers, she will attempt to repeat the same writing motion on the blackboard with a chalk, which brings her a step closer to using a pencil on paper in future. Use thicker chalk if possible for their tiny hands, as it encourages better pencil grip and makes it easier for them to practice writing.
For this, I prepared a writing tray, with the sandpaper numbers on one side and the mini blackboard on the other.
My preschooler started tracing the number 7, and repeated the writing motion on the blackboard tray. She did not get it right the first few times, but with a lot of encouragement and modeling from me, she could eventually produce writing that resembled the number closely!
Where to get sandpaper numbers & letters:
I bought mine online from Enrighten.com locally and they deliver it to your place