We have had a sand tracing tray on my children’s work shelves for almost a year now. We purchased ours from A2Z Montessori Australia. It is a timbered frame box with a clear see through base and came with a few writing tools (two wooden pencils and a surface clearing tool).
At the moment my 4 year old uses her finger only to trace letters and numbers and lightly shakes the box from left to right to smooth out the sand. In the past we have used salt, plain sand and coloured sand. I have to say plain white salt on a light table and coloured sand looks the best and seems to be the most appealing in our home.
Even though my 4 year old is at a point now where she knows and can write all of her numbers and alphabet letters, it’s still worth having a sand tray out for practice. From what my 4 year old has told me, she has her own note book in her Montessori classroom for practicing letter and number writing in which her teacher lined the pages for her and wrote examples of letters and numbers to copy. I haven’t seen the book but it sounds interesting. I will have a parent interview with her teacher part way through this term, so I am sure I will get a better idea on how everything is going and where her interests lye. At home though, my 4 year old, without me encouraging her, practices writing numbers, letters and words a lot on paper, using the sand tray and either on the outdoor chalkboard or the small A4 sized chalk board she has on her work shelves. She has a strong passion for reading and writing at the moment.
One doesn’t have to buy a specific frame for sand writing you could really use any flat tray.
Now that my eldest attends a Montessori school, I don’t put out as many ‘Montessori classroom’ specific materials, but having bought sandpaper letters and numbers and a sand tracing tray almost a year ago (I thought we might have been moving to a different country- therefore homeschooling), it’s worth still having them on the shelf. These hand-made sandpaper numbers and letters were purchased from Wood Puzzles Australia and I just love them. They were made to QLD State script. Something to keep in mind; In a Montessori classroom they teach cursive writing before print. Our sandpaper letters and numbers and moveable alphabet were all purchased in print.
Some sand tracing tray inspiration from other Blogs;
In the above two photos, from An Everyday Story Blog, they are using coloured and non-coloured salt. I think the white salt looks great on the light table.
The pink coloured sand used at Every Star is Different blog really stands out.