DIY Montessori Wooden Sensory Alphabet!

Slowly, we’re converting a corner of our very conventional play room to a Montessori Materials Corner.  I wrote about our plan back in November when we created three activities:  The Popsicle Stick Shapes Tray, Bean Counting Cupcake Tins and Rice Writing Bowl.

I also just ran a piece on how we are starting to implement The Peace Table to help with conflict resolution a few days ago.  The Peace Table is part of The Peace Curriculum in Montessori programs.

A blogger friend, Valerie, who runs the incredible Frugal Family Fun Blog wrote about how she and her kids made Sandpaper Letter Discs.  I saw her talk about them in a national interview and have been looking to make these ever since.

Our Local Hobby Lobby had the discs but they were more than I wanted to spend, averaging $.75 per disc.

But, one day, I happened upon a cheap packet of much smaller wooden discs that were about 2 inches wide that came in packets of 22 for $2.99!

Another Montessori Mom gave us the idea to use dimensional fabric paint to create the sensory aspect so that kids could trace the letters with their fingers!  This same friend also used cut up foam board to make letters for her own daughter.

Really, you could do this with so many materials with some imagination.

I made sets of upper case and lower case letters.  The vowels were a different color.  I also made the “Y” and “y” in a vowel color and a consonant color to demonstrate that it sometimes behaves like a vowel.  I also made a couple of extras for the commonly used vowels and consonants.


I looked for a larger jewelry organizer that could hold all letters and numbers (0-9) in one place with one character in each pocket, but had to settle for two smaller jewelry organizers that each cost about 3 dollars.

My kids LOVE this set!  You could play a game of match the letters (for upper and lower case letters) as well.

The part I love the best-  is the cool hands-on learning they get out of tracing the letters.  This will feed into the next Montessori activity we built that I plan to write about next week:  Montessori Colored-Sand Writing Trays.

Good luck to you if you’re making similar materials for your kids!

I would love to hear about what you are doing and how you’re doing it!

If you’re interested in more awesome Montessori-Inspired Activities and Ideas, please check out the Collaborative Pinterest Board that Critters and Crayons contributes to!  It is run by Deb Chitwood, blogger and Montssori Education Expert at Living Montessori Now!


33 Responses to DIY Montessori Wooden Sensory Alphabet!

  1. Love it!! What a nice way to do these! We’ve done simple popcicle sticks with letters on them (like your popcicle stick puzzles) and then end up making words with them. Yours are much more fun.

    • Popsicle sticks are a great idea! We’ve been also saving bottle caps from yogurt drinks. I’ve been wondering what we could do with those. I’m thinking a shape and side-number matching game…. 🙂

  2. Love this! We have foam letters on milk caps, but I am loving the extra sensory experience the puffy paint provides. And that you can write the lower case As correctly – I can’t take how all the stickers I see have those fancy As!

  3. Seeing this, I just know my Air Head could benefit with his spelling. Wish I could afford Montessori schooling. As it is, a mom at our school actually TEACHES there – she’d get 50% off the tuition but she still can’t afford it. Guess it’s like health insurance…

    • Nami- We are really fortunate to live in a place where Montessori is more affordable. My friend is moving up north and the cost is literally more than double- almost triple what we pay. So, I try to keep that in mind when we grumble about paying for two tuitions next year! It puts it in perspective. NYC must be outrageous- I cannot even imagine! But, there are lots of great ideas on the collaborative pinterest board to incorporate ideas at home! 🙂

      • Grumble, grumble about cost. We only budgeted for one year of preschool, and the Montessori teacher is shocked that we are putting Miss E in public Kindy. I told her we just don’t have the budget for more than one year of Montessori. You are totally right that parents can incorporate similar methods at home for less cost. =) As much as I do complain about the cost, I LOVE my daughter’s school and do wish we could do kindy there. Just not in the cards.

        • Rebekah- I know! I bet costs are high where you are! Major cities seem to be exorbitant for early Montessori education. For that reason, I think we are fortunate- but it still cuts a little. 🙂 I’m glad there are so many great resources out there to help us do these things at home now….

    • You know- If you traced the letters on your wine bottles in puffy paint, that would make some fun sensory experiences! C is for Chardonnay….M is for Merlot…. 🙂

  4. This is awesome! I know I can count on you to make a craft simple enough for me to do!!! I have been wanting to buy or maybe make the sandpaper letters but cost and realizing my efforts may end up in vain have deterred me. But THIS I could totally pull off. I also think the smooth texture of the paint may be more alluring to some children over the sandpaper.

  5. These are absolutely positively awesome! I’ve been thinking of making sandpaper letters, but these are super simple and definitely less time consuming of a project! Plus, I’m sure it feels awesome to touch! Looks like they had a great time with them! Such a good idea. Pinning.

    • Thanks so much, Iowa! 🙂 Can I call you that? These are super easy. Just make sure they are completely dry so they don’t stick together!!! 🙂

  6. This is great and what I had in mind for the months’ worth of apple juice bottle caps that I had been collecting before my trip. Then *poof* they have somehow disappeared upon my arrival. Hubby claims to have no memory of what happened to them. I tried to remind him that selective memory is also a form of selective lying 🙂 Back to your post: awesome idea. I would have so much fun with the puffy paint and the kids would love playing with these. We’ve pretty much neglected my younger one and he is pretty alphabet deficient, poor thing. Will have to see where I can buy those discs.

    • I’ve been saving yogurt caps and beer bottle caps to do something with. 🙂 The younger ones learn from the older ones, though! 🙂 I wouldn’t worry about it, Chrissy! 🙂 Welcome back!

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  10. You could also put paper over the letters and do a scratch-thingy with crayons… what’s that called? Brain dead at this point in the evening. I think I’m going to try glitter glue to get some rough edges and sparkle at the same time??? My oldest needs some extra sensory input. Thanks to all the bloggers out there that share awesome stuff with us normal folk 🙂

    • Tiffany- Your ideas sound great! When I made these, I was sure I’d come up with all the letter combos for my nifty chart- and since publishing, I have realized there are many more. I think my own brain was fried. ha! Thank you for your comment!

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