As I'm sure many of you know, forming letters is not all about writing on a paper with your pencil.
In the Montessori classroom, children begin to form letters using a very sensorial materials called the Sandpaper letters. These are tiles with individual letters of sandpaper, and the child is shown how to trace over the letters in the correct writing direction.
From this stage, the children can trace letters on a tray of sand, in the air, on a chalkboard, etc. All these are non-permanent ways of writing, which means the child can quickly remove what he doesn't like and try again.
One activity with forming letters that is quite popular with younger children is using playdough. As this is something very simple to do at home, we tried it out with our 5 and 7 year olds.
Step one was the Practical Life activity of making the dough. Lots of fun, and always exciting to see what the color will turn out to be. I'll post the recipe and instructions for home-made playdough below. It's a super easy, 5-minute recipe, all with basic household ingredients (and therefore non-toxic, as well!)
Step two was to have fun. I created a printable playdough mat with the alphabet that they could use to form letters, or they could make other letters (names are the usual first project). Click on the link to download a copy.
And there you have it! A fun, simple project that resulted in good teamwork and lots of concentration!
So, the playdough recipe:
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons salt
100 ml water
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon oil
In a small bowl, mix together the flour and salt and set aside for a minute.
Combine the water, lemon juice, oil and coloring in a small pot and heat on medium heat to just before boiling.
Carefully add the dry ingredients while stirring and continue to cook the mixture, stirring well, until it all pulls into a ball. Stir and cook until it is no longer sticky, but be careful not to overcook it. This shouldn't take more than a minute or so.
Remove the pot from the heat and put the ball of dough on a plate or parchment to cool. Once cool enough, you can knead it a bit, and if you want stronger color, you can knead more color in at this stage.
And that's it! Store it in airtight containers for future use.