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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

C is for Cotton Balls: Sensory Alphabet

As parents or teachers, we're constantly exploring new ways to make learning more engaging, enjoyable, and effective for our children. A fun way to do this when teaching the letters of the alphabet is by creating a sensory alphabet {also known as tactile letters}. Creating a sensory alphabet stimulates multiple senses at once including sight, touch and sometimes sound, which is a great way for children to form a deeper understanding of the individual letters.

A sensory alphabet is an exceptional tool that merges the tangible experience of touch with the abstract world of letters, making the learning process not only more fun but also more immersive for children. Follow our step by step instructions below to create your own sensory letter C, I've also included a free printable letter C template.

letter c made with cotton balls

What is a sensory alphabet?

A sensory alphabet combines a craft activity with different sensory materials to create tactile letters and eventually an entire tactile alphabet. The process of creating a sensory alphabet helps children with letter recognition and phonics, as well as providing visual, tactile and in some cases auditory sensory input.

A sensory alphabet allows children to feel the different textures of the materials as they trace their fingers along the letters, and while they're gluing down the materials. They can also see the different shapes of the letters, and colours and patterns of each material used, which makes them great for a classroom display. Some sensory materials will also create sounds as the children create the letters.

What are the benefits of a sensory alphabet?

Using a multisensory approach to teach the alphabet helps children increase their concentration and focus, meaning they're more likely to retain the information and be actively involved in the learning, because it's hands-on and engages multiple senses.

Making sensory, or tactile, letters will also help:

Establish letter recognition - Children will learn to recognise each individual letter and their names.

Correct letter formation - Constructing the sensory letters will also introduce the correct letter formation and this can be further enhanced by getting children to finger trace the completed tactile letters.

Introduce phonics - The sensory item used matches phonetically with the letter so it introduces the concept of phonics and can be used for further exploration. For example c is for cotton balls, /c/, /c/, cotton balls. It can also represent c is for clouds.

C can also make the long /s/ sound as in city or circle, but for this sensory letter C we'll just be focusing on the short /c/ sound as it's easier for children to learn the /c/ sound first.

Build fine motor skills - As children cut and glue their materials onto the template they will be building their fine motor skills which are essential for correct pencil grip and writing. For letter C they'll be working on their pincer grip as they hold the cotton balls and hand strength as they push them down onto the template.

C is for Cotton Balls: Sensory Letter C

To make your sensory letter C you will need:

I decided to use cotton balls, for the letter C as they're a relatively cheap material that can be found in most supermarkets or pharmacies and they're also super easy to buy in bulk if you're doing this activity at school. The cotton balls can also double as C is for clouds as they'll look like a C cloud once it's finished.

They also provide visual and tactile sensory input as children feel their fluffy, soft texture and run their fingers over all the cotton balls glued together to feel the bumpy, uneven surface it creates. However, if you don't want to use cotton balls, there's alternative sensory ideas for the letter C further below.

supplies to make sensory letter c

How to make a sensory letter C

1. Download and print letter C template. You can get the free template by clicking the download template button further below. Print template on white or coloured paper or cardstock.

2. Glue individual cotton balls onto the letter C template. Use a drop of glue on each cotton ball and press them down firmly for a few seconds as they're added to make sure they stick to the template properly. Continue until the whole letter C is covered in cotton balls.

finger pressing down on cotton ball

letter c sensory letter from an angle

This cotton ball letter C is a great way for children to work on their fine motor skills, without needing to use scissors, so it's perfect for younger children. It's also one of the easiest sensory letters to make from our sensory alphabet.

sensory letter c made with cotton balls

More sensory ideas for the letter C

If you can't get cotton balls, or just want other options for a sensory C, then use one of the fabrics, textures, patterns or sensory items below, along with the free letter C template to create a different sensory letter C. Each option will provide a different visual and textural sensory effect representing the /c/ sound.

c is for collage sensory alphabet craft

Collage -  Use scrap pieces of paper, fabric or tape and repurpose old artwork by cutting or tearing them up to make irregular lengths and shapes. Children can then pick from the assorted items and glue them onto the letter C template, layering as they go. The final piece will have lots of different textures and colours.

Cardboard - Save empty boxes from deliveries, or even empty cereal or biscuit boxes. Tear them up into long strips or small pieces and children can glue them down onto the C template.

Corrugated cardboard - For even more texture, you can use corrugated cardboard which can be bought in rolls, or you can get coloured corrugated card sheets. Glue it down on the flat side so children can run their fingers over the bumpy side once the letter C is finished.

Confetti - Use paper confetti, or make your own with any paper or card and a hole punch to decorate the letter C template.

Crayon - Colour the letter C in one or multiple crayon colours. Children can also get creative while colouring in and draw different designs on the letter C.

Coffee Beans - Glue dry coffee beans onto the template, or use coffee grounds. Always ensure there are no food allergies first.

Corn kernels - Glue dried corn kernels onto the letter C template. Make sure you only use corn kernels under supervision as they can pose a choking risk.


Click the download template button below to download the letter C template. This will take you to the PDF that can be downloaded to your device and printed.

Please note that this free printable letter C PDF is for personal or classroom use only and may not be shared electronically, uploaded or sold on any platform. If you would like to share or feature this craft in a blog post please link back to this post directly.

sample letter C template

download template here


If you want to create an entire sensory alphabet you can get my complete set of alphabet templates in a bundle from Etsy. This includes all 26 uppercase and 26 lowercase letters on their own template page. You can print them directly onto paper or cardstock to create quick alphabet displays.

alphabet templates

They can also be used as colouring sheets, playdough mats, tracing sheets, or cut out the individual letters and use them as templates for other activities. You are able to print as many copies of the pages as you need, however please note that the PDFs are for personal or classroom use only and may not be shared electronically, uploaded or sold on any platform.

buy alphabet template set now

C is for cotton balls sensory alphabet craft

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Disclosure - This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, which means I may make a small commission at no cost to you, should you make a purchase.

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