Arabic Sandpaper Letters

Asalaam’ Alaikum :

I finally finished my long-awaited project: Arabic Sandpaper Letters (for a larger picture, click on the image above). It took me quite a long time because I have carpal-tunnel in both hands so it slowed me down quite a bit (yes, you have to cut out all of the shapes of the letters!) and this added to my laziness!

First of all, I must admit this was not my original idea. It is based on the Montessori Method for the English Alphabet and is adapted for Arabic. Also, I found an actual sample of this on an Islamic Montessori Group on Yahoo but they didn’t provide any templates or anything – just a picture. If you are interested, here is the group location (but they haven’t been active for quite some time now):

Anyway, I thought I’d share a little bit about what you can do with Sandpaper Letters.


To learn the sound and shapes of the Arabic Alphabet. You can help your child mimic the act of writing the letter (feeling the sandpaper in the proper hand movements) as a prelude to writing.

With the sandpaper letters, you can introduce the phonetic sounds to the child. In the Montessori approach, the sounds of the letters are taught before the child is introduced to the names of the letters. Research has shown that it is best to learn one thing at a time. It is too much to have to remember both names and sounds. If the child is taught both the names and the sounds in the beginning, it has been found that the child gets confused when trying to sound out a word because it is difficult to remember which the letter represents. Therefore, to avoid the added difficulty, the phonetic sound of each letter is taught first, and the names of the letters are taught later.

The teaching of the sounds and letters is through a multi-sensory approach. The child will hear the sound, see its representation in the form of a letter, and feel the way it is written as the child feels the letter with his fingers. Since a motor pattern should be learned correctly the first time, it is very important that the child trace properly formed letters. This will help him develop a good pattern for handwriting.

What about the vowels?

As for vowels, I will do as I have seen the Islamic Montessori Group do in their suggestion – they simply made a cover that is the same size as the card out of heavy plastic (perhaps a transparency) and put on that plastic card the vowel marks. When you want to introduce the letters with vowel marks, just place the plastic card over the letter card. When I make them, I will show you a picture (but since we are just now going to focus on the letters I will skip that for now).

Ok, now what?

I am intending to upload a template for all the Arabic letters and directions on how to make the Sandpaper Letters. Here are the files you will need:

Arabic Sandpaper Letters

Insha’Allah this inspires you to make your own learning materials!

Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
Sumayyah Umm SAA

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19 Responses

  1. Umm Junayd says:

    Assalaamu ‘alaikum.

    I LOVE this idea mashaa`Allaah. Could you kindly direct me to the Islamic Montessori Yahoo group, inshaa`Allaah? I’d love to implement something like this for both the English and Arabic alphabets.

    [and yes, I got your email – I’m currently trying to fix the contact page on my main blog – sorry for driving you up the wall!]

    Was-salaamu ‘alaikum
    ~ Umm Junayd.

  2. Umm Junayd says:

    Me again!

    I just re-read this post and was fascinated by the fact that the sounds are taught before the name of the letters – it’s all upside down compared to how children are usually taught, but totally fascinating. Have you tried this with your youngest daughter (and I ask this because she’s closest in age to my son)? Have you tried this with the English alphabet?

    Jazaakillaahu khairan for any input you can give on this – I’m really interested in ‘alternative learning’ – which I belive the Montessori method to be.

    ~ Umm Junayd.

  3. Asalaam ‘Alaikum Umm Junayd:

    I looked to see if I can find the Islamic Montessori group but have not been able to locate it. It was quite a quiet group – no messages at all for a long time but they had a few good things in their files section.

    Perhaps they just deleted the group. If I find it – I will post the address here.

    As for doing this in English – you can always take the lazy route (some days I prefer this) and buy alphabet tiles. You can also find these Montessori materials available for sale on Montessori websites or on Ebay. I took the cheaper route and printed them myself. Besides, my kids always get excited when I’m making something – they can’t wait!

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah wa Asma

  4. Asalaam ‘Alaikum Umm Junayd:
    (post #2)

    I am currently teaching my child with “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” – more info is posted under “Learning to Read”. It is based on teaching the child to learn the sound before learning the letter name.

    Having your child only know the sound is not always possible – as my daughter quickly learned them practically on her own through games, etc. I have seen though that she has had trouble sometimes when I introduce a new letter and instead of remembering the sound she would be stuck on just the name of the letter.

    In essence, I have been working through the book and focusing more on the sounds – then, in reading or games she picks up the names of the alphabet. Perhaps you might say I felt a bit of akwardness in teaching this way – because I also used those other tools to introduce the letters to her (i.e. StudyDog and StarFall).

    I have had friends that solely used the book mentioned above and their kids read great – so I really think it depends on your child – their interests and abilitys.

    As for alternative learning – I have learned a few things here and there – when I find something I think is beneficial – I add it to our repetoire. I really haven’t found any one methodology that fits us – so it’s just pick something here and there.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah wa Asma

  5. as salaamu alaikum,

    can i recommend you buy a heavy duty paper cutter to ease the strain on your wrists

  6. Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

    Insha’Allah – Umm Junayd – you will check back at these messages. I searched and searched Yahoogroups for the Islamic Montessori group to no avail. However, I have recently found that even if you use keywords, it doesn’t pull up groups like it should.

    So, I seached all over my old emails to see if I could find one saved message – guess what, I found it! The group can be found here:

    Unfortunately, it looks like there hasn’t been any posts since last year but I have rejoined and look forward to possibly trying to revive everyone (if possible).

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah wa Asma

  7. Asalaam’ Alaikum Veiled Muslim,

    I wish it were that easy. I didn’t actually cut out the blocks of paper that I put the sandpaper letters on. What I had to do was cut out the letters themselves, individually.

    Alhumdulilah, I have been able to survive for a while now with the carpal tunnel and just have to know when to take a break.

    Jazak Allah Khair for sharing your advice.

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah wa Asma

  8. Umm Junayd says:

    Wa ‘alaikumus-salaam.

    Yes I went on a hunt also! I found the group mashaa`Allaah. Still waiting for my pending membership to be approved though. It really does seem quiet…

  9. Asalaam ‘Alaikum:

    The group is actually made up of quite a bit of great people – however, they hardly post anything.

    Yet, if I or anyone else ever has a question – everyone climbs out of the woodwork to help. It’s really great, but for someone wanting active discussion – I haven’t found a way to keep it going on the group.

    Any suggestions are welcome!

    Asalaam ‘Alaikum,
    Sumayyah Umm Sadiqah wa Asma

  10. monirah says:

    dear Sumayyah
    i´m an austrian moslem montessori teacher and after finishing the german letters my next plan is to start the arabic alphabet with sandpaper letters…..thank you so much Allah barakatile! you saved me an owfull lot of time
    may god bless your good works!!!!

  11. Umm Samyrah says:

    As Salaamu alayki I wanted to show you that i saw your arabic sand papers as a link on this site….. I thought that was really cool coming from non muslims. anyway your doing a great job.. I too did the sand paper but not with arabic so inshallah you have inpired me to try the arbic way wow why didnt I think of that huh lol anyway much love salaams

    Umm Samyrah

  12. Anonymous says:

    hi, juz to share wid u…i applied PVA glue on the alphabets printed n sprinkle clean sand from the beach or playground, Egyptian orange lentils/pulses. glitter or even leftovers fron paper punches n let dry. Apply another coat or 2 over finished product to make sure all is glued fast or to prevent weevils if using food items.

  13. azeelia says:

    it’s a brilliant idea that u did the templates for sandpaper letters! thank God.

  14. Dina says:

    Allisons Montessori materials in NY are now offering an Arabic moveable alphabet at a great price. You can trace them and make your sandpaper letters from that. They will probably be smaller but better than nothing. i am using this to supplement my son’s Montessori education.

  15. rayhana says:

    Assalaamu’alaykum sister,

    Jazzakillaahu khayr for this!

    I was wondering, my son knows the names of the alphabets, do you think it would be too late to just teach the sounds though? Hmmm…

    With English, he knows the phonics at 2 years.. but also sometimes interchanges between the name and the sound because he had learnt the alphabet song beforehand!

  16. Aneesa says:

    asslamu alaykum sisters
    After homeschooling my kids, I’m starting up an islamic montessori school (Al Qamar Academy) in chennai, india ( to extend the benefits of homeschooling/ islamic schooling/ alternative schooling to other muslim kids. Please do pray for us.
    We are trying to teach arabic as the second language using the montessori method. Apart from the sandpaper letters and movable alphabets (Jazak Allah for those leads) , does anyone have any site where I can find Arabic picture cards. Also Islamic picture cards?

    Jazak Allah
    Aneesa Jamal
    [email protected]

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