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Metal Insets are part of the primary (3-6 year old) Montessori language curriculum. By learning to trace both the outside of the blue shape and the inside of the pink frame, primary students practice all the motions needed for writing.

An essential part of the curriculum, a classroom quality set of metal insets, stands, and tracing frames can easily cost over $100. In our house we chose to purchase a far more inexpensive set of plastic insets, displayed in a basket, with homemade tracing frames.

In a classroom, the frames are beautifully displayed on a stand. A tracing frame sits nearby. The tracing frame holds the inset frame and/or paper steady while young hands trace around the shape. Again, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a tracing frame, so I made my own I chose to make individual frames, but this method can be easily adapted to mimic the wooden frame shown above. Here’s how I did it:

– foam core board
– ruler or set square
– craft knife
– washi tape
paper trimmer (I LOVE this paper trimmer!)

My “plastic insets” measure a very convenient 5.5 inches along each side. You will need to measure yours to confirm the size. Since I only wanted my frame to have a guide on three sides, added half an inch to the length of three sides and cut out a rectangle that was 6″ by 6.5″.

I also cut out three smaller rectangles, measuring 0.5″x6″. Using washi tape, I simply taped the smaller rectangles around three edges of the larger piece to create a lip.