Montessori-Style Letters with an Engaging Pirate Theme
Handwriting can be an engaging activity with a pirate theme in a sand tray. In book two of this handwriting letter adventure, the pirates have just realized that they have no vowels. All the letters that they learned in book one can not be used to spell any real words. Their excitement turns to confusion.
A cheeky bird calls out, “Aw, au vowels.” Then it flies away.
The pirates rapidly chase after the bird and learn to make the C-shaped letters along the way. This group includes c, a, g, d, q, o, s, e.
The use of sand trays in the Montessori style is one of my favorite ways to practice letters. Normally, I just would rotate different colors of sand, or customize the tray bottom with different colored or shiny paper. But this storybook pirate theme opens up my options and lets me add items from the book. The kids can recreate the letters by following along or re-enacting the story. This gives me more opportunities to talk to them about starting spots and correct letter formation in a fun way.
Choosing the right supplies to make a mini fake coconut for the C-letter theme.
Gathing Supplies for the C-Letters to Trace Around
Any box will do to make your own sand tray. It can be a fancy wood one like this, or a shallow box with a lid if you are concerned with spills. The fake coconut may be harder to find. My husband brought me a macadamia nut still in the shell. I think is the perfect size. I need to cut it and paint the inside white. The larger object next to it was an avocado seed, but the shape it off. I don’t think I will use that one.
Yellow paint on the coin gave it extra shine.
Pirate gold at the top marks the start spot for most of the letters in the group. I had a foreign coin that was about the size of a penny, with some extra yellow paint added, it now stands out from the sand color. This was the best size for my small box. If your box is bigger, you could use the fake gold they sell in the party supply stores.
The Letter e, Starts in the Middle
You might want to have one fake coconut that is still whole and roll it in your sand tray for the letter e. In the story, the pirates hear a weird noise in the brushes and one of them rolls a coconut like a bowling ball in a straight line. Then, the monkey pushes it away and it makes the letter e shape.
When I teach this to students at my writing table, I open the book and show them the pictures. We say the steps together roll it straight and the monkey pushes it around in the c shape. That is the letter e. This has been helpful for many students. Letter e is the only letter that starts in the middle.
Correct formation of the letter e is very important. Many students make sloppy rushed letters. In the case of letter e, it might look the same as the letter c. This is a problem that impacts spelling especially if the /e/ is close to the letter /k/. Then the word looks like it ends with /ck/.
The adventure continues, the pirates think that someone has been digging for treasure on the island. A huge surprise in the sand leads them to learn the next set of straight-line letters.
These letters are the third handwriting group they learn: i, j, l, t, f, k.
The straight lines of the turtle tracks leading to the water are a very good way to explain the direction of travel and remember to start at the top. The hatchling eggs mark the dot on top of the letters i and j.
Book 3 of the handwriting adventure.
The pirate’s journey is complete and they find the last vowel and the treasure in book four X Pirate Letters. Shark teeth are used to make the pointy slanted line letters.
The whole pirate adventure is available in one storybook on Amazon. The Pirate Letters: Lowercase Handwriting Storybook.
Have Pure Joy Teaching