Sandpaper Letter Tracing

by Kim

This was taught to me by a developmental therapist and I used this technique with one of my foster sons that had sensory issues. I never thought to do it for help with recognition for shapes, letters, and numbers. Duh! But I finally made the connection last month when I had the daunting task of coming up with activities for my children during a 6 hour car ride. You will see what I am talking about in a second.

The only things you will need for this activity are sandpaper, crayons (I used oil pastels since they are softer), and yarn. Yep, that’s it.

Draw any shape, letter, number, pretty much anything onto a piece of sandpaper.

This is especially helpful for me because our school system uses D’nealian handwriting techniques and you cannot find that as easily as traditional font activities.

Now give your child a piece of yarn (about 12 inches) and let them “trace” the shape or letter with the yarn.

*Please be careful, long strands of yarn can be dangerous for small children. This activity can easily use two pieces of yarn for a shape if needed. Only you know what your child is ready for.

Even though my son is past letter recognition, he had to join in because my daughter was having too much fun.

A neat benefit to this activity is that the sandpaper grips the yarn. So the yarn will stay in place as your child manipulates it along the paper. This is what makes it so awesome for travel, too. The yarn will stay where you put it. Now if your child waves the paper wildly declaring, “I did it!” the yarn will move a bit. As you can see. ;)

Are you going to use shapes, letters, numbers, or do you have another idea? Please share.

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Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It

Gross Motor Reading Game – Pizza Delivery

I didn’t know what to call this game because it uses so many skills . The player needs to recognize sizes , sound out words for the street names as well as recognize numbers for the house addresses. Also it incorporates gross motor and balance as they push the car along the streets. Of course I wouldn’t be posting an activity like this without making adaptations easy. The street names could be turned to letters  such as  A Street. B Street etc… and the houses could be colors instead of numbers!  My son who is almost 5 loves this game, we have played with with friends and alone over the past week. The best part is that new street names and house numbers can be added so easily!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a patch of floor, painter’s tape, some construction paper ( I used black, brown , orange and yellow), a glue stick, a marker , white paper and some sicssors. Oh and a toy car , my son wanted one with space to actually put the pizza in it so ours is huge. Use your favorite.
  2. Start by choosing the words you want to make into the street names.  The player will have to find the right address to deliver the pizza and will have to read all the streets they drive on. I chose to do all sm , sn and sp blends but any words will do. For us my son needed to work on sounding out so I chose words he wouldn’t be as apt to read by sight. Write them on white paper.
  3. Glue them on black construction paper and cut out.
  4. Next up make the houses. As you can see my goal is not perfection , it’s fun so as long as my son can tell it’s a house , I am happy. 
  5. Pop some numbers on the houses. Try to make some that are “easy” for your child, ones they will recognize immediately and some that are a challenge.
  6. Time for pizza. If your child is gaga for crafts have them make the pizza while you do the previous steps. We made 6 total – 2 large, 2 medium and 2 small.
  7. Don’t forget the pizzeria – ours is elaborate ;)
  8. Now create the road way with tape on your floor.
  9. Place the streets and houses with numbers on the roadway.
  10. Invite your player to come and deliver the pizzas! How to play:   Pretend to call the pizza place asking for any combo of the pizza sizes such as one large and two smalls.  Give them your address ( which of course is determined by the house on the street… so ours was #77 Smoke street ), then as they deliver the pizza they have to read the streets they use to get there.
  11. Keep going until all the pizzas are delivered!
  12. Switch up where each road is and move the houses around for the next round! This was such a hit we played for a long time.

Books About Pizza !

The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herb Auch is really a cute re telling of the classic Princess and the Pea. They have modernized it and made it a little more feminist in the process, exactly my kind of book. The text is a little long for toddlers but my son sat through about half before wanting to go back and look at the illustration of the horse on the first page. The message is sweet, saying that a woman doesn’t need a man or marriage to attain her goals! Beware though it will make you crave pizza!

The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philomen Sturges is a great retelling of the classic story. Kids will be able to relate to this hen not getting any help for all her hard work. Luckily her friends realize their mistake and do the dishes after she shares her yummy pizza. Since originally recommending this book it’s made a move from the bookshelf to the dresser pile of books that are in rotation for before nap and bedtime reading. A sure sign it’s kid approved!

Pizza at Sally’s is another great look at a small business owner , and how she does her work everyday and feeds the masses with her yummy pizza! I like how it not only explains how to make pizza but it also looks at the ingredients and how they are grown and processed.  Of course it’s not explained in depth but it is explained enough to start a dialogue with interested preschoolers for further investigation.  My son loves the cat in this book, the same cat is in many of the other books but for some reason he particularly loves it’s presence in this one. It’s inspired me to make the dough from scratch with my son next time we have pizza!  A lovely book!

Rhyming Tree – Word Game

My son is all about games and challenges and this rhyming tree was just the right amount of learning ( and fun) after a long day at preschool.  Whether you homeschool or just add little bits of learning into a day full of errands and play remember that lessons don’t have to be long, they just need to be targeted. This morning as I nursed my daughter my son and I played with rhymes so when he got home I had this tree prepped for him to revisit the rhymes and some new ones too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sticky back foam( I used up lots of scrap pieces finally), construction paper ( I also used part of a paper bag… I love reusing things), markers , scissor and a glue stick.
  2. Start by drawing a tree without leaves.
  3. Write one word on each branch.
  4. Cut out and glue on the construction paper.
  5. Write rhyming words on the foam and cut out in the shape of leaves.
  6. Glue the tree on the paper.
  7. Add one rhyming fool . Peel and stick the words onto the rhyming branches. This isn’t a quiet time activity because I added some words to spark discussion like pair and pear as well as said which he recognizes in books but I suspected ( correctly) that out of context he doesn’t recognize. So even a little lesson( or game as my son calls it) like this can let me talk about homonyms and check on his sight words stress free.
  8. He loved it and laughed hysterically at me when I asked if I could add one becuase I was SURE that chair and bee rhymed. Another reason to stay and play… giggles! When we were done he counted up all the words on each branch to see which branch won. Yay a little math too !

The best part about learning to read are these games and play that becomes possible so don’t forget to make words a game…even if there is a lesson or two hidden inside.