I created this letter tracing board for my kids and thought I’d share with everyone else as school starts this fall.
I remember figuring out how to read on my own way back in the day without any parental guidance but my kids so far don’t seem to be on the same track. I don’t know what happened in recent parenting trends but these kids are just doing more and more earlier and earlier.
We have a neighbor with a girl around the same age as my son and by the time she was 5, she was already able to read simple chapter books. Here I was, just trying to get my son to remember the alphabet.
I saw this cute alphabet board project on one of the Facebook groups and thought it would be an engaging and fun way to get my kids into reading. It actually turned out to be way more work than I anticipated.
The problem really was weeding the vinyl all around the little dashes. I also started out trying to use one of those tracing fonts but that was nearly impossible to weed.
I ended up adding a little slit in between the dashes so you can sort of rip the vinyl off in strips while holding down the dash cutout.
In any case, my daughter started tracing the letters with this mostly because she felt special that I had made something for her. I probably could have just bought something instead that was affordable and didn’t take as much time to make but I felt like the effort really prompted her to spend some time with it.
Materials for DIY Tracing Letter Board
Vinyl – I tried a few different ones and found this white Silhouette branded rolled vinyl to be the easiest to work with. It’s not the most highly rated one. It is kind of stiff but I think that is what made it be easier to weed for this design.
Clear board – There are a couple of different ways to make this. You can buy these clear dry erase adhesive sheets. I didn’t feel like buying any dedicated materials so I just used mylar sheets which are like the cutting mat protective sheet (which you can also use). One last option is a cutting board, like this shatterproof clear one.
Colored backdrop – I just used a dollar store chalk board. You could also use felt.
Markers – Dry erase markers work best here but I didn’t want my kids accidentally getting that everywhere so I just gave them chalk markers instead.
Template – This tracing alphabet template is available both in SVG and printable PDF formats for free in my resource library.
Tips to create your own letter trace board
Step 1: Cutting the dashed lines and letters
I left the template such that the letters are separate from the dash lines. I would highly recommend cutting them separately. Just position in place in your design canvas work space but cut it in 2 separate sheets. It makes weeding a lot easier.
Depending on which clear material you are using, you may need to mirror your letters. For example, I used the mylar sheets so my letters went on the backside of the plastic leaving the surface smooth for writing. This meant I had to mirror my design for cutting.
If you are using the dry erase sheets, then you would put the letters on the sticky side and it would not need to be mirrored.
Step 2: Weeding the tracing lines and alphabet
I actually ended up doing a reverse weeding effort.
I first pulled off all the bigger chunks of vinyl while it was still on the vinyl backing. This included all the edge strips, the cutout in the letters, basically anything that wasn’t touching a dash line.
I then placed the rest on a large transfer sheet.
I transferred the rest of the unweeded vinyl onto my mylar sheet.
I liked this vinyl because it wasn’t as sticky and was a bit firmer than other vinyls so it would peel off easier on the mylar sheet.
What happens if you try to weed all of the vinyl while it is still on the backing is it tends to pick up the dashes.
Step 3: Add a colored backing to the tracing sheet
I simply placed mine on a chalkboard. I figured if this initial design worked, I could create more sheets with different and more advanced words.
You could also add felt to the back to create contrast.
My neighbor’s kid was applying to private school and eventually got stumped by the question: What word do you get if you take off the first letter of ‘open’. Every time I got frustrated with this vinyl, I kept reminding myself I’m going to get my younger one to be able to answer that question and it’s going to start with this letter board.