When children are learning, we want to use as many sense as possible.  That's why I always advocate that each lesson strive to use all four letters: TVAK (Tactile, Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic).  See my blog post from August 23 to read all about TVAK.

When I was teaching the oral preschool classroom, I was always striving to get TVAK into every lesson.  Each week we focused on a different letter.  The kids would learn words that started with that letter, the sound it made, how to write it, etc.  One of their favorite activities during circle time were my "sandpaper letters", which weren't always made from sandpaper.  This was a great way to get "tactile" into a simple lesson of reviewing which letter we were learning about that week.  I must thank Mrs. Gonzalez, my deaf education professor at TCU, for this one!  

How do you make them?  As you can see by my picture, I didn't always use sandpaper.  I experimented with other materials, but tried to make sure that if I didn't use sandpaper, the material I did use started with the letter I we were doing.  That's why the "C" is made from Cotton!!!  If you have access to dye cuts, then you can cut the letters from the dye cuts.  If not, I would draw the letter backwards on the back of the sandpaper, cut it out and glue it onto cardstock.  Voila!  

How do you use them?  First you can let the kids feel the letters and talk about what it feels like - scratchy, soft, bumpy, etc.  Then have each child say the letter name and the sound (make sure you are always teaching both).  Then the kids would trace the letter with their index fingers (or index and middle fingers) the proper way.  What do I mean by the proper way?  I mean the way you would write the letter.  It was amazing to see how the kids improved drastically over the course of a week in writing the letter simply by using these "sandpaper" letters each day!

You can use this activity with so many different kids!  You can always expose pre-talkers to the different textures and talk about the textures.  You could use it with early language kids to start them learning about what letters words begin with, their sounds, and how to write letters.  You could also use this with elementary school kids who are struggling with writing skills.

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