5 Fun Ways to Practice Letter Sounds When the Sandpaper Letters are “Boring”

The Montessori sandpaper letters are an absolutely beautiful material, but I’m going to let you in on a [blasphemous] little secret: They may not be for everyone. Yup, I said it. There are some children who find the sandpaper letters to be… boring. And that’s okay! We can find some other fun ways to practice letter sounds that don’t use the sandpaper letters at all, or that might use the sandpaper letters as a starting point before evolving into something a little less boring!

One of my absolute favorite ways to practice letter sounds beyond the sandpaper letters is to label the room with beginning sounds. I usually use return address labels or dot stickers, then write one letter on each sticker and let the child walk around sticking them on objects/furniture/people that start with that sound! You can read more about that activity here:

You could also play a game with the letter sounds that your child is very close to mastering. Make some playing cards by putting each letter your child knows on a card, then repeating it to make pairs so you can play Memory or even Go Fish with the beginning sounds!

Other children might be more engaged by finding beginning sounds in the wild. Go on a beginning sounds hunt at the mall — searching each store sign for beginning sounds your child recognizes. You could also hang up letters all around your home and have your child walk around to find all of the sounds.

If you have a child who would much rather have you read books to him than do any letter sound work, incorporate that in your reading time. After each page, find one of the letters your child is working on: “I see a /s/ on this page. Can you find it?”

One last fun way to test mastery of beginning sounds is to make a beginning sounds book! Have your child make a rubbing of each sandpaper letter she knows, then draw pictures of things that begin with that sound and put it all together to make a book. You can read more about book making here:

So if your child is one of those who just can’t get interested in the sandpaper letters, don’t fret. There are so many other ways to work on letter sounds — you just need to find the right fit!