Sand Letters with Homemade Glue

Sept 28, 2012


My daughter has begun to show a strong interest in learning how to write letters.  Sand letter cards are a great way for her to make the connection between the physical movement of forming letters and the actual letter shapes. And, while a nontoxic all purpose glue would work equally as well, I thought it would be fun to make glue from scratch.  

The ingredients needed for this simple glue are 2 tablespoons of corn syrup, 2 tablespoons of corn starch, 1 teaspoon of vinegar and  1-1/2 cups of water. To make the glue, bring half the water (3/4 cup), corn syrup and vinegar to a slight boil in a metal saucepan. 


While the cornstarch mixture is cooking, mix the other half of water (3/4 cup) along with the cornstarch in a separate bowl. 


Mix the water and cornstarch together until smooth.


Slowly add the corn syrup mixture to the boiling cornstarch mixture.  Stir continuously until it begins to boil again.  Then, continue stirring for another minute.


Let the mixture cool for a couple of minutes, but do not wait more than five minutes or the glue will become lumpy. While the glue is cooling, wash out an empty 7.65 fluid ounce glue bottle. When the glue has cooled a bit, use a funnel to pour the mixture into the bottle.


Let the glue sit overnight before you use it.  This glue is not only nontoxic and natural, it is very strong.  


To make the sand letter cards, gather sand, sequins and thick index cards. I used pink cards for vowels and blue cards for consonants.


Squeeze out the glue to create the letters.  I created D'nealian style letters freehand, but you could sketch the letters out in pencil first.  It is important to introduce lower case letters first since they are most commonly used in writing.


Add a sequin where you want your child to begin forming the letter.


 Sprinkle some sand over the glue.


Repeat the process for all 26 letters.


Allow the letters to dry. If some of the sequins pop off, glue them on again.


Sophia had fun putting the letters in order.  You can also sort the letters by color to introdue the vowels.


To trace the letters, have your child hold the card in the non-dominant hand and trace the letter with the dominant hand.  Model the formation for your child.


This glue is simple to make and holds up amazingly well.  We made these cards in Jersey City over four months ago. Then, we shipped them to San Fancisco. From San Fransisco they were packed in our luggage to South Korea. Although some of the sand has fallen off, they are still usable.  These sand letter cards are such a great sensory experience. Beginning readers and writers will benefit from the tactile experience of tracing the letters. 


More activities you might like

Sensory Stones
Bread Charms
Paper Towel Butterflies