Sensory and Quilted Rag Letters and Numbers

With baby coming soon, I've been in planning mode for Eliana's preschool (baby is due Dec. 22 and she turns 4 Jan. 22) . Since we have a full curriculum with Five in a Row, I will not be doing a letter of the week with her. Instead, we will be using the Explode The Code primers and doing oral lessons from Queen's Language Lessons for Little Ones.

This is written in the front of the book:
"Here, you will find child-friendly lessons in learning and recognizing the letters of the alphabet, as well as beginning lessons in picture study, narration, poems to listen to, vocabulary, and more. . . "
I truly think it is a gentle and friendly approach.

With this is mind, I decided to focus on more of a sensory approach to pre-writing and have been working on some tools to have on hand:

Salt Tracing Box and Sandpaper Letters and Numbers

I first made a salt box after seeing Mama Jenn's Salt Tracing Box. I went to the store to find a photo box that I could cut down, but was blessed to find a cool box with a top smaller box that lifted out! Which gave me a great idea to make some sandpaper letters/numbers to store underneath:

Since we will be using Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting, I printed out a template using the Getty-Dubay Italic (GDI) Style font from Education Fontware.

Note: I let Eliana pick out the sandpaper, but next time would use a finer grit. I think these will make wonderful crayon rubbings, as well as to use for tracing!

Quilted Rag Letters and Numbers

I saw a set of Fabric Numbers @ Counting Coconuts and followed her link to a tutorial @ Happy Together and made a set of Quilted Rag Letters.

I put my own spin on this idea and printed my own template using the Getty-Dubay font, quilted and ragged them as suggested in the tutorial, and then thought to add handwriting starting point buttons for tracing.

I printed and cut out the fabric from the templates, then made them assembly line style ~ pinning and cutting out each letter, working 5 at a time. Then setting a goal to sew and quilt 5 letters at a time.

Note: I made lower case letters because, in my experience, they have been more difficult to learn to write than upper case. Plus, we mostly write in lower case. ;-) Not sure if I will get around to making an upper case set or not. But, when she outgrows them, I will cut the button off so baby can play with them. 

See that little tool on the right, next to my Fiskars ~ that was a huge blessing and made cutting the centers out a breeze! 

I used one set of pre-cut 100% cotton flannel quilting squares ($10) for the top, white felt that I had on hand for the quilting material, and a half yard of minky dot fleece fabric for the back ~ and they are super soft! 

I hung them on a wire clothes line on the wall so they would be easy to use. (Note: I have since taken them down from the wall because I wanted them more accessible to her and less work for me). 

I even quilted them in the pattern that her little finger should trace it. :-) I love the way they feel. . . and I think she does too!


  1. Wow! I'm impressed! The rag letters turned out beautiful!

  2. The letters and numbers turned out great! So vibrant and inviting! Kerri

  3. These are some really great tools! I love the sandpaper letters and want to make some of those for Christmas this year :)

  4. The letters and numbers are gorgeous! Wow! I love that you added a button for the starting point too- how clever!

  5. I love the rag letters and the sandpaper letters! I need to do something like that for Arin. She does not like to write, so I don't make a big deal of it right now, but it would be nice to expose her to other forms of writing other than just pencil and paper (she does love the dry erase markers, but that's about it).

  6. These all look SOOOO stinkin' cute!!!! Did you use cardboard or cardstock or wood or what??? for the actual cards? I have a set of cursive sandpaper letters that I bought, but they don't look NEARLY as cute as yours!!!!!!

  7. Beautiful letters & numbers!! What a great idea with the buttons and tracing patterns. We've had great success with the Explode the Code books. At first I didn't get the teacher's manual with it, but I was impressed with the extension activities once I bought it.

  8. You are AMAZING! Doing ALL this towards the end of your pregnancy...WOW!

  9. Those quilted letters have been on my "want to do" for ages and have never gotten even started. You got them done, have more kids then me, and you're pregnant--- AMAZING! I love the button idea.

    Thanks for the link about making a salt box.

  10. I love the added buttons on the letters for a starting point! Can I just say "You Rock!"

  11. Thanks Jenn! I used card stock and used a corner rounder on the corners. I love that they are raised and textured. *Ü*

  12. Thanks, Stacy! Did you use the manual for the ETC books 1 and up or just the primers? I have the manual for the primers, but not books 1 and up. Didn't know they had one!

  13. Thanks Kate! And that is probably why (how) I got them done! I don't have much time left before baby! Nothing like a little pressure to get you motivated. :D Setting a goal helped me too.

  14. I think that is why I wanted to do these ~ take the pressure off of actual writing until her fine motor skills develop more. In my experience, little ones understand more than they can express! *Ü*

  15. This is so inspirational! I really, really love all that you do and share for Eliana. My oldest just turned 4 yrs old and I'm just beginning to try and figure out how to homeschool her. I'm hoping I can do it (baby #3 arrives in about a month). Your posts, organization and enthusiasm have helped me so much. Thank you!

  16. Oh my goodness Michelle, I am due Dec 23rd...!

    I saw those letters on Happy Together too, and I love that you quilted in the direction for her to trace, what a fantastic idea!

    :) Valerie

  17. Thanks Valerie! And I didn't know we were so close ~ I will be thinking of you often!

  18. Everything is just beautiful - I love all the colors and the fact that they are all lower case. Well done, mama!! :)

  19. Wow, that wall is beautiful! I'm jealous. ; )

  20. Hi Michelle - I love your Rag Letters and love the font. Do you happen to have the pattern for the lower case that I could download. I saw the patterns on Happy Together the you linked for the Upper and Lower case letters but really liked your font (also for the numbers). If you don't have the pattern to download do you know how I can make my own and get that font.


  21. Hi Amanda,

    Here is a link to my lowercase italic letters and numbers:

    I used this size to make the sandpaper letters, and I may have
    enlarged them with a photocopier to make them large enough for the rag

    If you like the font, it is available from for
    $50. I use it to make handwriting books, copywork and other projects
    for the kids to reinforce their handwriting skills.

    Hope that helps!

  22. As usual, you're very inspiring and I would love to make these asap. I realize this is an old post, but I have some questions. Do you have a post about why you chose educational fontware and the getty font? I've seen a pattern with your font in other posts and had no idea I should be choosing a font style with our schooling. I haven't started handwriting with my eldest yet.
    About the letters/numbers quilt:
    Is it possible if you can please put up exact details of supplies used? Also, is this a good project for beginners? And how long do you think it will take to complete it? You mentioned you may or may not do capitals; you're about 5 years down the road from this post so was wondering if you ever decided on capitals? Or if you regret not doing them ;)

    1. Hi Serenity! :) I followed Jessica's tutorial at Happy Together: She lists the exact details and supplies used. Rag letters are very forgiving so as long as you can operate a sewing machine, I think they would be great for beginners. Feel free to email me and I'd be happy to help you if you have more questions! My daughter loved these - I will probably sew them into a baby/childhood quilt for her when I make it. I don't regret not making the capitals, but they would have been fun to have on hand for Bo, my 4 year old. (I wish I would have made a capital set for him). I'm so practical though and lower case just seems more practical to me. Bo uses an app to learn to write his letters and since he loves being on the iPad, he's motivated to work on them that way.

      As far as the font I chose - when I first started homeschooling, I saw the handwriting of a homeschool friend's child and it was very nice. My oldest at the time had terrible handwriting so I started him on Getty & Dubay and saw wonderful results. It's really easy to transition from print to cursive - for example a print "b" looks like a cursive "b" but the letters are connected with entrance and exit "serifs." I think it is a very pretty handwriting and have used it ever since! I bought the font from Educational Fontware and it has been a great purchase. I just printed a sheet of numbers for Bo to practice this morning. :) But, I also buy the handwriting books from Rainbow Resource.

      A handwriting is a personal decision and there are many to choose from. I'd find one that you like or that goes with whatever curriculum you are using. :)

    2. Thanks for the detailed reply. I've briefly checked out Getty Dubay. Although it's appealing to me, I'm thinking it won't work for my left handed son. Perhaps Handwriting without Tears would be good for him since they make adjustments for the left handed. Is handwriting practice the same as copywork? And what age would you say is best to start? I have yet to really start any handwriting practice with my 5 year old yet...perhaps it's because we're still working on AAR-pre. I've also noticed that he writes in reversals. I constantly have to tell him "left to right" . We also want him to learn two other languages (not in written format yet) because that is one of the reasons we chose homeschooling. He's learning with a private tutor foe one language . My husband teaches him the other language. I think it's a lot at once but I know learning a new language really starts in the early years so we don't want to let that go.

    3. Handwriting practice can be done alongside copywork. Copywork is to help the child visualize the look and feel of a correctly formed sentence while he is still learning how to spell, punctuate, and learn the rules of grammar, etc. Then you move on to dictation. With All About Spelling, you learn the rules and skip right to dictation. I've done it both ways now. Copywork in handwriting is simply having the child copy the letter formation and repeat it to practice it. I've heard great things about HWT - I love the hands on component to the program.

      I start with formal handwriting practice at age 5 or when the child is ready. My daughter needed some time to develop her fine motor skills for writing so I started at 5 but didn't expect too much. Bo writes in reversals too - a handwriting program will help with that. It helps him to have a chart to look at for letters and numbers he has trouble with. Right now, I am having him trace numbers and then copy them.

      I think it's great that you are teaching him two languages! The younger they are the easier it is to learn - that is true. :)