Tactile Activities for Learning Letters

When my older son was learning letters, he had a hard time really getting them. To help him get the shape of each letter in his mind, I came up with a few tactile activities!

  • Pipe cleaner letters– I made each letter out of pipe cleaners and glued them onto a note card. He traced them with his finger when we learned each letter.
  • Sand letters– Similar to pipe cleaner letters, I also made each letter out of sand. I wrote the letters on note cards with glue, and sprinkled sand on the glue. After the glue dries, there’s no mess! He traced these with his finger too.
  • Quilted letters– To make the quilted letters, I printed out each letter in the font I wanted. I cut out the letters, pinned them to a “quilting sandwich” (top material, quilt batting, bottom material), and sewed around the letters. Then I cut away the extra material and threw them in the washer and dryer to get a soft frayed effect. Both my boys still love playing with their set of quilted letters!
  • Felt letters– I cut each letter out of felt so he could play with them on the felt board we have up. After learning the letters and phonics, now we use them for spelling too!

We’ve now moved passed learning letters and are working on handwriting and reading. We have discovered our oldest son has dyslexia, so these manipulatives are still great to get out and review when he needs to remember the differences between b, d, and p or n and u. I’m so thankful to be able to work with him until he really gets it, and to know him well enough to come up with activities that will work for him!

What tactile activities do you do to help information really “stick” for your kids?


  1. Sandra, I like these ideas. One of our therapists recently suggested drawing letters on squares of fine sandpaper (for the child to trace like your pipe cleaner letters) for another tactile experience.

    I think I need to try that quilted letters idea! Do you think those would be sturdy enough for the baby to chew on them a little, too? 🙂

  2. Sometimes, we build the letters by laying Lincoln Logs or Legos on the floor in the shape of the letter (not necessarily connecting them). We’ve also drawn it out in the tub with shaving cream and built them with marshmallows and pretzels.

  3. Christine says:

    I made a set of letters out of puffy paint and piped them onto card stock. The recipe I used for the puffy paint was 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup salt, 1/3 cup water with some food colouring mixed in. Then I scooped it into a ziplock type baggie , cut a corner off and piped the letters out. It took over night to dry but was very easy to make!

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