The Sandpaper Numbers are an important foundational Montessori mathematics material that introduces numerals 0 – 9 to young children. The material is comprised of 10 green boards, each displaying a number on the front from 0 – 9, cut out of fine-grit sandpaper. The distinct feel of the sandpaper and its contrast with the smooth board helps guide the student’s fingertips while they trace the symbols.
Sandpaper Numerals exercise
If a student has worked with the sandpaper letters before, he will quickly recognize the parallel structure of this activity: Using his finger, he traces each symbol while saying its name. The Montessori Guide teaches this exercise by example, tracing her finger along with the numeral while saying “one,” then asking the student to try it. This activity is a way for a child to physically connect words for quantities to the symbols used to represent them. The student engages several senses as he uses his eyes, ears, and hands to experience each number. This multi-sensory physical engagement helps build strong memories of the symbols that will come in handy when learning to write them on paper! After mastering the Sandpaper Numbers, a child can start learning to link a number’s symbol to the physical quantities it represents.
Teach the child the written symbol for numbers 1 to 10
Indirect preparation for writing by showing the child how to trace the numerals of the sandpaper.
Pick up the sandpaper – number 1. Say (while tracing) to the child “This is one..one.” Set it down and move it out of the way. Pick up the sandpaper – number 2 and say to the child “This is two…two”. Repeat same process with the sandpaper – number 3. It is always good to repeat the words several times while pointing to the appropriate item or card.
Place sandpaper numerals (1, 2 and 3) on the table. Ask child to trace, or feel the numbers: ”Please trace two. Show me number two.” Repeat the process several times in different contexts. If the child is unable to correctly identify the correct item, return to the period one lesson, stating the word and pointing to the correct item.
Since the ultimate goal is to help the child master the information for himself, puts the teacher into the mode of correcting the child. The Teacher is asked: ”Can you trace this number and tell me what it is?”
It is important to understand that the knowledge gained during these lessons becomes the starting point for the child’s next quest for knowledge. Every time a child masters a skill or idea, he or she becomes stronger, more competent and more independent and wants to learn more.
Control of Error
The sandpaper acts as a control for teaching the shape of the numerals. (the feel of the sandpaper).