Montessori Sandpaper Numbers are a traditional math material designed for preschoolers to promote numeracy through hands-on sensorial activity.
Sandpaper Numbers is a Montessori lesson that is in a math area but is indeed a mixture between the Sensorial area and math. Besides, sandpaper numbers are very easy to make at home: all you need to make DIY is sandpaper and green cardstock. (See a tutorial video below.) Most importantly, there are many extensions and games you can utilize and play, making learning hands-on and fun!
The purpose of this lesson is for the child to learn the symbol/numeral that represents the number. Most importantly, what makes this traditional Montessori lesson so special is that the child learns with so many different senses. First, the child visually sees the number, exercising the sense of sight. Also, the child develops his/her tactile senses by tracing it: that is feeling it sensorial with touch. And finally, the child learns the name of the symbols of the numbers by hearing them and learning the name.
To introduce the sandpaper numbers to the child, you would start with three numbers at a time (with smaller children you may want to start with just numbers one and two), and you will present a Three Period Lesson. (For details on Montessori Three Period Lesson, see a post here.)
Montessori Three Period Lesson:
How to present a Three-Period Lesson: (start with 3 numbers at a time, e.g presenting numbers 1-3):
- Period 1: choose a number and while tracing that number say: “This says 1. Would you trace 1?”; “This says 2” … etc.
- Period 2: “Will you show me 1…2…3 ”?
- Period 3: “What is this?”
Sandpaper Numbers Montessori Math lesson can last a while. Start with numbers one and two, and then keep adding more numbers as the child gains confidence. However, if the child loses interest, simply put away the lesson and come back a few days later.
Offer your child to trace each number with second and third fingers.
Math can be mundane and tedious, so to make an activity fun, I came up with these few extensions that add a “play-and-learn” dimension to the activity.
Silly Numbers Game:
While keeping the numbers visible, add some fun by giving simple directions: put three on your head, turn two upsides down, hide one behind your back, etc. This game was a big hit when Adrian was about 2 years of age: he thought the directions were hilarious!
Crazy Mixed Up Numbers:
Another Extension is the game called: Crazy Mixed Up Numbers:
Take sandpaper numbers one through ten (or just start with one through three) turn numbers upside down and rearrange, mixing them up. Then, invite your child to knock: “Knock-Knock – who is there? What is this number?”
Once the child turns over the number, invite him/her to name the particular number (resembling of a 3rd Period Lesson). This activity can be modified for older children as well, using larger numbers, like 100, 200, 300, etc.
I think if you make learning fun, engaging and hands-on, your child will keep coming back to the lesson: learning effortlessly, with grace, and most importantly, caring on the love of learning.
DIY Montessori Sandpaper Numbers:
Sandpaper Numbers are also easy to make at home.
WHAT You’ll need to make Montessori Sandpaper Numbers:
- green cardstock to resemble the traditional Montessori Sandpaper Numbers
- sandpaper from your local hardware store
- scissors (children are also using a paper cutter for more precision)
Having your child make or help you make these DIY Sandpaper Numbers will only ignite the excitement, promoting interest and engagement.
By sensorily feeling the number, the child is able to perceive the symbol through senses other than just visual.
For more extensions, see here a post Number Extensions with sandpaper, sensory tray, marbles, play dough, counters, and spindles. Also, see here a post Spindle Box & Sandpaper Numbers Extensions (Montessori Math).
See here Adrian exploring sandpaper numbers at two years old in a post Sandpaper Numbers Early Montessori Math.
“Sandpaper Numbers Extension” post (read here ) offers different ideas on how to use marbles (above) and crayons/chunky wax blocks (below) to keep sandpaper numbers interesting and captivating.
Shading over Sandpaper Numbers is a fun and hands on way to explore numeral symbols.
And what about painting numbers with water? See here a post Water Brushing Numbers.
For more on Montessori Math Lessons, read here Early Math” post, which explains briefly which Montessori materials are to be introduced first and in what order.
Adult supervision is required.