Tag Archives: alphabet

Easy letter recognition activity

I’m always on the look out for more fun (and even better, easy to make) letter recognition games.  Just visit Tired, Need Sleep (don’t we all?) and print off her lowercase letter templates.  Then cut out the pieces from foam and away you go!  This also works on spatial reasoning, as it’s just like a puzzle and fine motor skills, as those pieces of foam are pretty small.  Once your child is ready to move on to something harder, print, cut and paste more letter templates to spell out their name or sight words.

If you want to make this a fun car or airplane game, make the templates and foam magnetic with a bit of refrigerator magnet tape and use them on a cookie sheet.


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Filed under 3 Year Olds, 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Activities

Free is always fun!

Want some free alphabet cards?  Here are some super cute ones from Homemade by Jill.  You can use these the traditional way of holding them up and saying the letter name and sound or you could:

  • Print two copies and play Memory/Concentration
  • Use them to play wordless (letterless, really!)
  • Play “Go Fish” (you’d need four copies)
  • Play “Old Maid” (you’d need to print some other card, maybe a period or question mark, for the old maid card)
  • Sort out the vowels and consonants
  • Find the letters of your child’s name
  • Think up other things that make the same letter sounds
  • Draw one card at a time and have your child practice writing that letter with sidewalk chalk or bath paint

Print these on card stock and see if you can get them laminated at your local teacher store or Kinko’s.  If you plan on really using them for games, the extra cost for the laminate will make it worth it in the end.

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Filed under 2 Year Olds, 3 Year Olds, 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Activities

Cookie sheets and magnets

How on earth do cookie sheets and alphabet magnets have anything to do with each other?  Well, they are the perfect combo for a car trip, whether it’s running errands around town or a long trip out of town.  Here’s a few ideas but of course let your child be creative too.  Have a few extra sets of magnets available too if you’re child wants to work on spelling.

Depending on your child, you can start out with simpler ideas focusing on just the letters and progress to more difficult ideas like writing sight words or environmental print.  This idea is sorting letters that use only straight lines and letters that use a curved line.

Straight letters vs. letters with curves

When your child has a good grasp of letter identification, have them sort consonants and vowels.

Consonants vs. vowels

You can also have them sort out the letters in their name or anyone else’s for that matter.

Letters not in your name vs. letters in your name

When your child is ready for a challenge, have them sort out the letters that make more than one sound.

Letters that make one sound vs. letters that make two or more sounds

Kids also love to copy environmental print.

Copy environmental print

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I Spy Water Bottle

Okay, I love this idea of an I Spy Water Bottle from Science Mommy.

You probably already have everything you need for the project around your house, too.   I can think of tons of ways to extend this.

  • Play “I Spy’ and look for objects with certain beginning sounds, syllables, ending sounds, or rhyming words.
  • If you’re feeling really adventurous you could do this project on a larger scale.  Bury items in the sandbox or a large tub of sand and have your kids hunt for treasure with small sand shovels.  When they find any treasure, they have to tell you something about it.  Example:  They find a rock.  They tell you, “This rhymes with sock.”
  • If you have a large plastic swimming pool, you could go fishing.  Take your objects and hot glue paper clips to them.  Then drop them in your filled swimming pool.  Make fishing rods using a ruler with string tied to the end and a strong magnet at the end of the string.  Then go fishing!  Before each round of fishing announce what types of “fish” you want.  (Fish that start with letter B, fish that rhyme with dog, etc.)  Practice catch and release and throw any fish back that don’t fit the criteria for the round.
  • In my classroom I used to make bottles similar to these only I filled them with alphabet beads and a water and oil mixture.  To make this type of bottle, fill the bottle about 3/4 of the way full with oil.  Then drop in alphabet letters.  You could use Science Mommy’s idea and work with the letters in your child’s name.  Just make it to fit your child’s academic needs.  Then fill the bottle the rest of the way full with colored water.  Screw on the lid and tape it shut.  We don’t want any spills!  If you want to be really fancy you can add glitter.   You could also do a family size “I Spy” bottle with a large 2 liter soda bottle using either rice or the water/oil mixture.  Here’s a “lava lamp” that I made for my infant son.  (We aren’t quite ready for letters yet, but he loves looking at the shapes!)

If you’re looking for something a tad more durable, check out baby soda bottles from Steve Spangler Science.

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Filed under 1 Year Olds, 2 Year Olds, 3 Year Olds, 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Activities, Infant

Fun alphabet activity!

Just found this great idea for an outdoor activity that builds on letter recognition.  Check out Amy’s idea at Serving Pink Lemonade.  You could extend it further to work on sound recognition too.  Instead of calling out a letter, call out a sound.

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Peter, Jack, Jill and Little Bo Peep

Are nursery rhymes really that important?

YES! Nursery rhymes really are that important! These silly poems and songs never go out of style. The natural rhythm and pattern of nursery rhymes are appealing to kids and naturally teach the concept of rhyming as well as build the vocabulary of children from infancy on up.  Both are essential skills for learning to read!  Vivid images of Peter’s wife in a pumpkin shell or a lamb at school provide humor and encourage a young child’s imagination. As an added bonus, a great number of nursery rhymes include counting or other basic math skills!

Now that I know, what can I do?

Finger plays. Many nursery rhymes lend themselves to finger plays, which help a child improve their hand-eye coordination and memory skills.  The “Itsy Bitsy Spider,”  “Where is Thumbkin?,” and “This Little Piggy” are just a few examples of well-known nursery rhyme finger plays, but you can also make up your own for some of your child’s favorite nursery rhymes.

Reinforce counting and other math skills. Use nursery rhymes like “Hickory Dickory Dock,” “One, Two Tie My Shoe,” and “This Old Man” to reinforce counting to 10. Many nursery rhymes also teach position words (over, under, behind, etc.), a very important but highly overlooked and often difficult math skill for young children. A great book to check out is Mother Goose Numbers on the Loose by Leo & Diane Dillon. This book uses well known and lesser known nursery rhymes to explore the world of Mother Goose through numbers.

Use them to teach the alphabet. Many nursery rhymes have alliteration in them. “Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater” is a great example to use to teach the letter and sound of “P.” Other nursery rhymes with alliteration include “Wee Willie Winkie,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

Rhyming. Sing or recite nursery rhymes and discuss the rhyming words. Once your child is familar with a nursery rhyme, try reciting it by leaving out a few of the rhyming words. See if you child can fill in the missing words. For example:

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the _______ .
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such sport.
And the dish ran away with the _______.

Draw and write about nursery rhymes. To activate your child’s imagination have them draw a picture of a favorite nursery rhyme.  Then have them point out special details that they drew that may or may not be in the rhyme. Use this illustration to write a story about the characters in the nursery rhyme.   Have your child dictate to you or write a story about what Little Miss Muffett did after that spider or what it would be like to be in a tub with a butcher, baker and candlestick maker.

Act out the nursery rhymes. Use your child’s dress up box or everyday household items to act out the nursery rhymes. Not only does this improve your child’s memorization skills but it also allows your child to learn through play. Puppets, homemade or store bought, would also be a fun way to act out nursery rhymes.

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Filed under 1 Year Olds, 2 Year Olds, 3 Year Olds, 4 Year Olds, 5 Year Olds, Infant, Questions


My child can recite the alphabet. Isn’t that considered knowing your ABC’s?

Your child has been able to sing the alphabet song for years, doesn’t that mean she knows her ABC’s? It’s definitely the first step, but no, it does not mean she has a full understanding of the alphabet. Children who start Kindergarten able to identify the names and sounds of the letters, in both their capital and lowercase forms, and in any order have a huge advantage when it comes to reading. Yes, it used to be that Kindergarten was all about learning your letters so you’d be ready to read in first grade. Expectations have changed! Children now need to be able to leave Kindergarten reading at least simple patterned texts (think Dr. Seuss). Since most teachers will start reading groups with their classes by early fall, January at the very latest, that leaves little time to devote to letter/sound identification. Though, of course, it is addressed regularly in just about every activity in the typical Kindergarten classroom.

Now that I know, what do I do?

Practice identifying the letters in your child’s name. Again, not in the same order. If your child’s name is Cole, we want them to be able to pick out the letter “e” and then “o”, etc.

Take Advantage of Car Trips. When driving in the car, call out things you see and ask your child what letter he hears at the beginning and then identify that letter. For example, McDonald’s starts with the sound /m/. What letters makes the /m/ sound?

Magnetic alphabet letters. Your child can use the magnetic letters for exploration, to copy words he sees or to work on letter and sound identification. You can also have them sort the letters into groups such as: ones with curves and ones with only straight lines, ones in their name, etc. A great tip for busy parents is to use the letters with a cookie sheet. This way your child can play with the letters wherever you are, in the car, at the doctor’s office, sitting in the grocery shopping cart, etc.

Rainbow letters. Have your child write a letter in red. Then have him write it again on top of the red letter only this time in orange. Continue with all the colors of the rainbow.

Shaving cream. Spread shaving cream on the kitchen counter, bathroom mirror or any flat surface that you don’t mind cleaning later. Then let your child write letters in the shaving cream.

Play-dough. Have your child make their play dough into long snakes. Then have them use the snakes to make different letters.

Letter Songs. Sing songs like the “Apples and Bananas” song that change letters. This one is especially great because it changes vowel sounds with Opples, Bononos, etc.

“I Spy.” Play “I Spy” only instead of spying colors spy things that start with a certain letter or sound. If you are spying something that starts with the letter “b” but your child guesses something that starts with a different letter, use this as an opportunity to discuss the letter and sound of the object your child guessed.

Art Supplies. Use all sorts of different art supplies to write the letters. Bath crayons, sidewalk chalk, scented markers, finger paints stamps the list goes on. After practicing writing different letters have your child then draw a picture of something that starts with each letter you practiced writing.

“What to Expect”:

Don’t forget that your child needs to know that vowels have two sounds. Both short and long sounds are important! Children also often confuse the sounds of letters “u,” “w” and “y.”

Point out different fonts to your children when the opportunity presents itself. Letters like a and g often look different depending on the font used.

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