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Activity and strategy

Letter Formation and Handwriting

A kinesthetic approach to letter formation and writing using Montessori materials and adaptations for low vision can help children with visual impairments to make progress with handwriting skills.

One of my students is struggling with letter formation.  Traditional pencil and paper practice hasn’t been working for him, so I had to get creative.  I tried three different approaches and the combination seems to be helping after just two weeks.  I have observed progress and, best of all, writing is no longer a “chore”, but something he wants to do and has fun with! 

In our lessons, I begin by having my student build the letter with a letter construction kit, and then practice writing it in the sand.  We then try it on paper.  After that he sometimes using the Writing Wizard App.

Letter Construction Kits

Letter Construction Kits provide plastic pieces of letters that can be snapped together.  This is helpful to get the tactile and kinesthetic feel of the letter.  It also gives us a chance to review the main characteristics of a letter, such as a “tail” or “loop”.  It also reinforces letter recognition, while he strengthens his fine motor skills.  The kits come with cards showing which letters to construct.

Letter Construction Kit

These kits are available at Amazon, and Target, as well as other stores.

Sand Writing

Sand writing is another way to make letter writing multi-sensory.  This kinesthetic approach often helps to reinforce the shape of the letter and the muscle memory.

This Montessori Sand Tracing Tray is available on Amazon.

Montessori Sand Tracing Tray


Another option is to use a small plastic tray or a wooden cigar box bottom (one of the boxes with shorter sides) and put the sand in it. The cards can be easily made from samples online

Writing Wizard App

To throw a spin on this, sometimes I have him use the Writing Wizard app. When we use the app, he uses a stylus, rather than his finger, which helps to reinforce writing skills. I want him to work on his writing grip as he practices making the letter formations. 

Writing Wizard app

Adaptations for Learners with Low Vision

  • In the sand tracing tray, I am now using a darker sand which helps to provide greater contrast.
  • He is now using an unsharpened pencil in the sand. 
  • The cards for each kit have been laminated as the cards were too flimsy and could tear easily.
  • We’ve adjusted the lighting to reduce the glare on the cards.
Graduate student project

Light Activity App to Improve Visual Functions

Student wrtiing on an adapted handwriting paper with four lines and highlighted
Tips and guides

Finding the Right Paper

Lessons and materials

Teaching Print Letters