As I scour through preschool curriculum and various Montessori based items, tactile letters and numbers are a common theme. If you’ve ever really looked at what is expected, it can be extremely overwhelming. Many require sandpaper and stencils cut to the desired letter and number and then glued onto cardboard,a wooden block, etc. I have been on a quest to imitate the tactile number in a much easier form.
When A-Man was preschool age, I used twine. I drew the letter or number on a piece of file folder, outlined in glue and then glued down a piece of twine. It created a nice bumpy letter but it was not preschooler friendly. I ended up doing most of the steps while A-Man watched. That defeated the purpose for me.
This time around, with T-Man, I knew there had to be an easier way. The inspiration came to me after a trip to BJ’s. I was organizing my cupboards and finding things that needed to be tossed. You know, those things that get shoved behind cereal and you forget are there. In doing so, I found a box of Cheerios. No one was really eating them and based on what I have discovered about Cheerios and GMOs (research if you need to), I didn’t really want to keep them. That’s when it hit me (not the Cheerios, the inspiration!).
I decided to try crushing the Cheerios into a powder and using it to make tactile numbers. In my mind, it would mimic sandpaper. So, I whipped out rolling pins, spoons, and a gallon size freezer bag and we all got involved. The first time we didn’t crush it enough so there were still some fairly big pieces, but the idea is still the same.
After crushing the cheerios, I gave T-Man a printed number. This was part of the curriculum we are using but the number could probably be found anywhere. I gave him some cotton swabs and liquid glue. He painted the liquid glue on generously inside the lines of the number. Then, he grabbed handfuls of crushed cheerios and spread onto the number. When it drys,dump off the excess and it mimics sandpaper.
This number includes the Cheerios that were not crushed small enough but once we pulvarized it, the Cheerios turned into a powder. Keep in mind that you don’t want to be heavy handed when tracing over the dried number/letter or the cheerios will start to come loose. However, it is an easy and hands-on version that kids can join in with.