The Sandpaper Letters are iconic, pink or blue oversized cursive letters in rough sandpaper for a child to take to a table and practice tracing and pairing with a known phonetic sound. They’re oversized so it takes a child’s whole arm, shoulder to fingertip, to trace the sound. Handwriting isn’t just in the fingers and wrist. With this large dynamic movement, paired with tactile input from the sandpaper, the visual input from the symbol (the letter itself), and the auditory input from the phonetic sound this letter makes create a strong neural pathway for the child to attach this shape to the various words they know to include this sound.
Big, circular, swirly movements are so natural for the young child, and something they’ve been refining since first coming into the classroom. Washing dishes and tables, polishing various artifacts, even painting and coloring, all come in loops and whorls and squiggles. This more naturally translates to cursive than print letters do. A child’s creative expression develops into stick figures, houses, and other identifiable images, but this is more of an elementary stage than these earliest methods of expression. Concurrently, handwriting that matches these levels of development is helpful for young children.
In cursive, every letter starts on the left and ends on the right. It is very difficult to transpose letters or words, and much simpler to do so when writing in print. In fact, it’s not uncommon for children preferring to use their left hand to write away from their body the same way right-handed writers do and end up transposing letters and words in the process. Cursive solves this problem.