Age 3-5 years
Over the summer my son is focusing on play but I am focusing on working on his fine motor skills. This activity satisfies both . The best part of these letter puzzles are how adaptable they are. You can make letters, shapes, even spell simple words. You could provide your child with a card next to each group of pegs to let them know what letter it is or leave it as a puzzle for them to figure out like I did to combine fine motor and spacial skills.
- Gather your materials. You will need a cork board, some pushpins and elastics.
- Start by stretching two elastics across the board to make 4 distinct areas.
- Using the push pins I created 4 letters. I wanted to make sure that they could be made into letters so created them myself. Then removed the elastics and called my son.
- He dove right in. The A was easy but the B was tricky. It took a while for him to see that it was a B but once he did he couldn’t make the B fast enough.
- I took all the pegs out ( adults only if you aren’t careful the elastics can pull the pegs out and they go flying) and reconfigured them into 4 new letters. These were easier and he flew through them but he was still getting lots of opportunity to fine tune his fine motor skills.
Advanced Alphabet Books
These books aren’t your basic alphabet book. They offer challenges that will appeal to school age children but could still be shared with kids 5 and under.
Animalia by Graeme Base is iconic in teaching circles, you can loose yourself for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an alphabet book on steroids! Each page had a wonderful paragraph in each letter such as for the letter L ” Lazy Lions lounging in the local library.” The pages are filled to the gills with pictures of things that start with that letter as well. Parents and kids a like will fall in love.
All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer was more fun for my husband and I than for my son when he was a toddler, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a book of pictures, with hidden letters in them. For example the letter O is overpass with loops of road and hidden in it is an O. Some letters were easy to find some were hilariously hard. We read this to my son tonight at bedtime and while we stared at the letter H ( highway) picture debating where the h was, he fell asleep between us in his bed. This is a great alphabet book for families with children just learning and those who have mastered the alphabet. Oh and the debate was settled , we were both wrong. The final page highlights the letter in each picture in a compilation of the whole alphabet.
Al Pha’s Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a rare find. An alphabet book that can keep a 5 year old who says alphabet books are for babies, completely engaged. The story follows Al who has bet himself that he can win a contest ordered by the King figure out an order for the brand new 26 letters that were just invented. In a string of adorable events and a little chance the alphabet as we know it is put together. My son thought it was hysterical that P was put in the line up after Al went pee. It’s a cute idea for a book and abstract enough to be a bit of a challenge for preschoolers but just the right level of interest for kids that think they know it all when it comes to the alphabet.This post contains affiliate links
Sometimes crafts don’t go exactly as you planned but you roll with it. When my daughter was given a new pack of Do-A-Dot Markers for her birthday I knew what I wanted to use them for. A few years ago my son made my husband a Dad Canvas for Father’s Day and today was my daughter’s turn at this simple Father’s Day craft. As you will see that the project did not turn out as planned but it’s still a great kid made present for Father’s Day. Here is how we made it.
- Gather your materials. You will need a canvas , some Dot-A-Dot Markers or any other paint, contact paper, letter stickers, a marker and scissors.
- Draw a tie on the backing of the contact paper.
- Cut it out , peel the backing off and press onto the canvas. Add the letter stickers to spell out Dad, Daddy, Papa etc…
- Start painting! My daughter started with a few good whacks of each color. Then she carefully added pink and purple. Normally if my daughter says she is done painting I would say great and move on but for a project like this there really needs to be lots of paint at least around the image so you might need a few tricks to keep your little one going . What I did with my daughter was to spin the canvas around to encourage her to paint all over, then I asked her to count to 5 while we both make dots , then 10, 11, 12 and then she counted to 27 all on her own.
- Peel off. Make a sad face, but only for a moment because this isn’t the end of the world. I had a feeling this was going to happen because my canvas was old and the stickers didn’t stick to it very well. You can always place a heavy book over it and let it sit for a few hours before painting. I left it up to my daughter and she wanted to paint over it. Do not make a child change their art . It’s their creation but if they ask don’t resist, it’s their art .
- I outlined the tie with a silver Sharpie. Now we just have to hide it until Father’s Day.
Need more ideas for Father’s Day ? Check out our Father’s Day Rocks Pinterest board. Also don’t forget to swing by our Facebook page because today I will be asking our community about what they are doing for Father’s Day … because I need ideas!This post contains an affiliate link.
Every parent has those days at home when you HAVE to get stuff done. Maybe it’s work , homeschooling older children, or maybe you are fighting a bad cold and just don’t have the time to plan and play like you like to. Before you reach for the remote try simple themed play stations instead. This may look like a lot of work to set up but trust me it took 5 minutes. If construction isn’t your child’s thing don’t worry I have ideas below for 6 more themes. You may need to look through the toys in your house to see what you can use but once you write a list it will be a snap to put it together when you need it. What a set up like this does is gives your child stations to move to and from and gives you a little extra time to get things done. The day we did this I was sicker than a dog and this kept my almost 3 year old happy while I tried to get work I normally do after her bedtime done early so I could have a good sleep that night. She did end up watching some PBS Kids but much less than she would have if I had not set this all up.
- Choose the theme. Your best bet is to choose something that your child is really interested in. A new theme is best introduced when you can act as a guide.
- Choose what stations to set up. Again this isn’t a time for too much novelty . Old favorites, things they can do independently and toys that they love . Toys they love but have been put away for a while work great. My stations were :playdough , dress up , puzzles ,and books. Gather your toys and materials for the stations. Keep it simple you don’t need to make huge sensory bins or elaborate block areas. I had a puzzle, some playdough with a little people construction worker and some Duplo, a few pretend play props and some books on the theme.
- Play . Show your child the stations ( space them out to your child’s liking) and ask them which they want to start with. Most kids will go to each briefly and then go back to each for a second look to really play. When my daughter went to the book station I asked her to please read the books first by herself and then I would come and read them to her. This gave me enough time to pause what I was doing and join her.
Other Theme Ideas
The links go to posts featuring these simple ideas and to products through affiliate links.
Princess : Books , pink playdough with sequins or beads, princess costume or crown for dress up, build a castle with blocks, make a princess bracelet with a pipe cleaner and pony beads.
Ocean : Books about fish , Tub of water with sea animals, swimming goggles for simple pretend play, under the sea pictures ( blue paper and fish stickers) , fish puzzles.
This is not something I thought up at all. This idea has been around for ages but when my husband had to run to Home Depot for something else I asked him to grab us some nuts and bolts. If you are a regular reader you may know that I am forever trying to get my son to work on his fine motor skills. The way I approach this is to mix them with a task he really likes and excels at. For him that is anything language related like reading or spelling. There are way fancier tutorials out there but I am a busy mom so I needed to make this activity quickly . It’s bare bones but it works.
- Gather your materials. You will need bolts, nuts and a sharpie. A fine tip one would be best but mine was dried out and I’d already told my son we were doing a project so I used my huge one. Also my nuts and bolts are matte not glossy which makes the sharpie stay on better. Please test yours out to make sure it adheres before playing.
- Write out simple CVC ( consonant vowel consonant) words on the end of the bolt. We did cat, rug, tub, top, jar and bug. This could easily be adapted for younger children by writing uppercase letters on the bolt and matching lowercase ones on the bolts.
- Write the letters on the bolt. You can chose to only use a handful of bolts and make your child take them off one bolt to use on another word or make multiple copies of the same letter on different nuts. I decided only one copy of each letter because I was trying my hardest to get my son to work his fingers putting the nuts on and off.
- Invite your word builder and go for it. The first thing he said to me was ‘ How about we do this together. I will do the spelling, find the letters and you can screw them on. ” Nice try buddy. No. Don’t forget to put the letters on right side up. You must pay attention to which way they are on or your bug will look like bng … my son had to unscrew , flip it and screw it back on.
- Soon he had the hang of it and I felt good knowing he was working on his fine motor skills. He told me the words were too easy so I am going to get longer bolts and give him a bigger challenge soon.
After he was done his sister decided she wanted to try. This was really tricky ( near impossible) for her which means you will see some preschool fine motor posts in the near future! If you want to see more check this round up of fine motor activities out.