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.
When your child is learning to read, looking for patterns in words is huge! If they know the word, “at” for example, then they know all the words that can be made by putting a consonant in front of it, cat, rat, mat, you get the idea. Once they understand blends, they can also read those, that, chat, slat. All these words make up one big happy family, the -at family! Other common word families that are good for your child to know are: -og, -en, -ack, -ig, I could keep going. You can go to Mrs. Alphabet and see a list of more. Word families are good rhyming practice and naturally make writing easier too.
When teaching word families at school, we drew a house and gave it a family name, like the Acks! Then we would write “family members” inside the house.
You could take it a step further and add words with blends.
You can also have them illustrate a picture of the words, ahem, I mean family members!
I also used to read, Flip the Page Rhyme and Read books to the kids to work on word families/rhyming. It’s a great series with Zug the Bug and Tog the Dog. You can also make your own, as Having Fun at Home did. Get your kids involved and this could be a great learning activity that is also 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.
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
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.
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.