Posts in Homeschooling
Your Child Can LOVE Learning to Write…Just Start With Sand!

Soft to the fingertips, not many can resist the temptation of playing with a pile of sand. Whether on the beach, in a box, or on a tray, sand provides an unforgettable tactile experience for all ages.

This Montessori sand tray letter-writing activity is best for children older than age three. It comes after your child has been introduced to a few tactile, or sandpaper, letters, although the delight of drawing freeform in and generally playing with sand can be introduced in toddlerhood.

What You Need

  • A medium-sized tray (the size of a piece of printer paper works well)

  • A good handful or two of sand or salt - enough to thoroughly coat the bottom of the tray

What You’ll Do

1. Immediately after reviewing the tactile or sandpaper letter you have already introduced, tell your child that you have prepared a special activity for the two of you.

2. Sit in front of  the tray of sand and say, “This is sand.” Then, set clear expectations for use by telling your child, “The sand stays in the tray. It is not for the table or for the floor. It stays in the tray.”

3. Now draw your child’s attention to your hands by rubbing them together and then extending only your index finger.

4. Silently and slowly draw the letter in the sand as your child watches. Say the sound (not the name) of the letter.

5. After a few seconds of gazing at the letter, shake the tray gently back and forth with both hands to smooth the sand.

6. Say, “Now it’s your turn to draw the ______ [sound of the letter, such as /b/].

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Tips for Success

Make sure that your child can be trusted not to eat the sand and always provide adequate supervision. If you’re using salt, please note that ingesting too much salt can be toxic to children.

Try This, Too

Encourage your child to write in the sand at the beach or in her sandbox. You can also write letters, or even her own name for her to “read”. For another variation on this activity, try a dollop of shaving cream on a table.

What Your Child is Learning

When your child is learning how to write, her fingertips softly pressing and sliding into a tray of sand will bolster her muscle memory of letter formation. This activity also provides a pleasant sensory experience and aids fine motor skill development.

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Print this free Montessori lesson

Download the printable version of this lesson and add it to your homeschooling binder or share with a friend.

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Download your free printable lesson.

  1. Download the lesson. You’ll get the lesson, plus gentle, compassionate parenting tips and information about educating your child at home.

  2. Print and add this lesson to your binder, share it with a friend, or use it with your Montessori homeschooling planner.

  3. Try this activity with your child! It’s a winner!

    10 Homeschooling Tips #3: Be a Mentor, Not a "Teacher.”

    Your child doesn't need a teacher.

    She needs you to join the journey. Acknowledge that your role is to be a mentor, guide, or facilitator. Without this shift in mindset, it is easy to get trapped in a spiral of insecurity.

    Try to think of yourself more as a mentor to your child - that “educational consultant” who is available to provide resources and allow opportunities to visit interesting places in the world. 

    You are not going to directly feed her mind with knowledge.

    You are a protector of your child's natural inclination to learn.

    Your child knows what to do already! She is programmed biologically to be interested in life and new skills and to explore.

    Your job is to scaffold her education not based on what she is "supposed to be" learning but by celebrating her current strengths and helping to nurture what you see as yet undeveloped.

    This may sound funny, but the hard part about homeschooling is not finding the right curriculum or planning or finding resources - it's tuning into your child and allowing the development to unfold while you observe and offer support.

    Let her lead.

    Push aside your own worries and insecurities. You were meant to be your child’s mentor

    Psst: that’s what a real teacher is!

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