Montessori's Sandpaper letters
Maria Montessori's iconic sandpaper letters no doubt were present in The Casa dei Bambini (Children's House) in 1907. The purpose of the sandpaper letters is to help learn the shape and sound of the letter as well as create a strong muscle memory of the letter. The are used as a prelude to writing, typically around age four.
Montessori believed it more effective to teach the child the sounds of letters, both at the beginning of words and how they sound in, say, in the middle and end of words, first and the names of words later. Eliminating too many concepts at once prevents confusion.
The multisensory approach, which is the hallmark of the Montessori philosophy, is front and center in the sandpaper letters. The child hears the sound the letter makes, she then visually sees the tangible representation of the letter and finally feels the texture of the sandpaper as the materials are manipulated. Hearing. Seeing. Feeling.