Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Learning the Shape of Things

If any of you have tried to teach your child the alphabet, you will understand where I am coming from when I say it can be hard work. I never want my daughter to just parrot what I am teaching her. I want our learning time together to be special. I embarked on teaching my child the alphabet and numbers, and she easily could recognize them as symbols, but I knew it was not sinking in that they had actual sounds, shapes and meaning. I turned to my favorite place-Etsy! Polliwog Learning Products, Llc was my saving grace. Polliwog makes Sandpaper Letter sets in uppercase and lowercase. She also makes Sandpaper Numbers. All of them are mounted on birch. What are Sandpaper Letters and Numbers you ask?
In the Montessori approach, the sounds of the letters are taught before the child is introduced to the names of the letters. Research has shown that it is best to learn one thing at a time. It is too much to have to remember both names and sounds. The teaching of the sounds and letters is through a multi-sensory approach. The child will hear the sound, see its representation in the form of a letter, and feel the way it is written as the child feels the letter with his fingers. Since a motor pattern should be learned correctly the first time, it is very important that the child trace properly formed letters. This will help him develop a good pattern for handwriting.

By using Sandpaper Letters, you are teaching your child the sound, showing them the letter, and allowing them to gain a muscular memory of the shape of the letters as a prelude to writing. With Sandpaper Numbersm the same concept applies.

Polliwog Learning Products, Llc are handcrafted, and super sturdy. We got the Sandpaper Letters in uppercase and lowercase, and the set of Sandpaper Numbers. With the letters, the vowels are blue and the consonants are a reddish pink. I was amazed when within 10 minutes of "tracing" letters with her finger, my daughter easily wrote an "F" and an "S". These were letters we struggled with for some reason. She got it instantly by using the Sandpaper Letters. Polliwog Learning Products, Llc makes both regular and small sized sets (perfect for travel). We even use them as flashcards! Whereas my daughter usually fights me tooth and nail when we discuss writing, this concept helped her to feel less pressure. I think she felt more in control. I love watching my little one learn and understand, and even better, getting to do it with something handmade by a mommy just like me!

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