Super Simple Grocery Store Alphabet Hunt

alphabet hunt at trader joe's Errands can be fun, they can also be huge flops. After church yesterday I knew I needed to run to Trader Joe’s with my daughter in tow. No biggie right? The thing is Trader Joe’s is about 35 minutes away and after sitting quietly at church I wasn’t so sure we’d have a good time. On the way to church, I asked my daughter if she’d like to make an on the go post for the blog.  I suggested a super simple grocery store alphabet hunt and she agreed. All we had to do was borrow a sheet of paper from church since we had everything else in the car already!

Need more in the car activities? Check these out! 
Gather your materials. You will need a clipboard, something to write with, and a piece of paper.

easy alphabet hunt on the go

Write out the alphabet on the paper. The jazzy title is completely optional. grocery store alphabet hunt

Hit your favorite grocery store with your favorite letter hunter. trader joe's alphabet huntYou can choose to go letter by letter but if you are trying to make this a quick trip just check off the letters you find and don’t worry about order. Also prep your child that they will likely not find every letter and that’s OK.  B for banana was our first of many b finds ( blueberries, bar, brownies). Super simple grocery store alphabet hunt

Keep the excitement going by saying things like ” Oh you better get ready to check off  M.” Then push the cart near the milk for example and let your child put two and two together. I also said things like ” Can you guess what I am going to buy that starts with y?” and she yelled out “Yogurt!” This works if your child has enough letter-sound knowledge for it but don’t make this activity about challenging them with new things, it should be a fun game for you to play together. grocery store alphabet hunt for kids

When there was a drought of new letters she went back through her memory of what she saw earlier. ” Mama I saw hydrangeas in the front of the store so I am going to cross out h ok?” Yes! The reality is that there is no wrong way to play with this idea, as long as you are playing with letters and letter sounds. You can even base it only on sight finding letters in signs.

11 Literacy Activities For Free Choice Time At Preschool

literacy activities for preschool Can I just take a second to tell you how much I love teaching? One of my very favorite things about teaching is thinking up activities that fit my students needs. No activity is one size fits all so when I am putting out free choice activities in the morning I have each student’s abilities and what they have been working on in the back of my head. For example, if you have a child who thrives with fine motor tray activities I would find a way to work in another area of learning they can work on using their strengths and interests. This is especially important for free choice because the children choose what to do, and children gravitate to things they are already good at and comfortable with. Use those strengths!

In my 2 and 3-year-old class my literacy goals may look different than yours but playing with letters is one that fits into all preschool classrooms. The children’s specific abilities will take the general activities in slightly different directions but our invitations to learn can have the same base. Here are 10 of my favorite literacy activities for free choice time at preschool.

If you are looking for even more resources and a place to chat about being a preschool teacher with other teachers check out my new Facebook group No Time For Flash Cards – Teacher Talk 

alphabet for starters

1. Letter cookie cutters in play dough.

This is such an easy activity, but you can do so much with it. You can make letter cookies, make and squish letters, use the cookie cutters like stamps in big mounds of play dough… the sky is the limit. I like to sit down and look for “my letter” and casually ask the child next to me if they want their letter. This leads to finding other classmates letters usually or sometimes it falls flat, that’s OK don’t push.

fishing for letters

2. Fishing for letters 

I love putting out my letter fish,  but I have also found that these jar lid letters work beautifully for this activity. They are especially great for not so gentle toddler hands.

alphabet mail 10

3. Alphabet Mailbox

Make a mailbox from a cardboard box , grab some small envelopes and add letters to them. Children love feeding the mail into the mailbox. They can hand it out to classmates who can also pop it in the mailbox. This is always a huge hit and like all of these ideas don’t require a teacher to be present the whole time. If you are playing with students if the opportunity is right for you to take the lead you can label the letters as they put them into the mailbox, ask if they have a favorite letter, or ask if they want to hand them out to friends ” Which letter should we give to Tommy? The J great!” resist the urge to quiz play. I know it’s hard, it’s so natural to say ” What letter is that?” over and over.

alphabet beads

4. Beading with letter beads

For beginners just let them work on beading, if they are interested in the letters they will start seeking out the letters they are familiar with. Comments like ” This is my Mom’s letter!” and ” Look a P!” is common around this type of activity. If you are teaching older children feel free to give them the option to spell things like their names. Once children are spelling with the beads you will need a few packs to ensure that you have enough letters for whatever they want to spell.

alphabet hunt outdoors with duplo

5. Building with alphabet blocks ( matching upper and lowercase too ).

I LOVE using marker on Duplo for this type of activity. I write out the alphabet at least twice once in upper and once in lowercase letters. Children can build, they can spell, make an alphabet tower, and they can match up the upper and lowercase letters. There is no wrong way to use these blocks. The child can choose to use the blocks based on their interests and abilities. What I love about free choice is that the child on the left of you can be spelling with these blocks while the one on the right could be building a tower without caring about the letters at all. They are both learning.

letter snowman alphabet for starters

6. Letter stamps and paper.

There is something so satisfying about banging a stamp down. Using letter stamps gives children who aren’t able to write yet a way to make letters they can recognize. Fun colored ink pads take it from plain Jane to fine art!

alphabet sensory bin

7. Alphabet sensory bin 

Have you ever watched a child just fill and pour for ages in your sensory table? It always grabs my attention when a child carefully fills and pours over and over. They are making connections. Adding in letters is really just a fun way to discover them but no extra instruction is required. Let the children explore and discover with their hands!

adding stickers to the alphabet wall mural

8. Alphabet sticker wall

Stickers are always a hit and what I love about this activity is that it naturally works on fine motor skills as well as patience. Peeling stickers off a sheet and putting them on a paper mural isn’t easy. You don’t don’t have to write out letters like I did in the photo above, I usually just pop up some paper and let the children go for it! When children are ready they can spell with the stickers, group them, and use the already stuck stickers for games like eye spy. I am always amazed at how these murals get used as children develop.

word building word families with magnets supplies

9. Alphabet magnets on a magnet board

Alphabet magnets are a classic for a reason. So many great idea for them ( check out a post I wrote for Scholastic for more) but just having them out and available is great for free choice. I like to sort by color, to have them all up and ask students to go search for a specific color then I label the letter, or sometimes I will spell out a name or two and see if anyone recognizes it. If they do I spell a new one, if not no worries the children find their own ways to play as well.

playdough letter matching activity for kids

10. Letter stamps in play dough

Children love it when you mix two things they never thought to mix together. Letter stamps in play dough is a fun way to invite children to play with letters. They can  squish the letters into the playdough making fun marks, work on spelling their names, print the whole alphabet, or even hide the stamps in the playdough and then excavate them!

toddler books

11. Reading

A comfy place to read and some easily accessible books are a must for free choice.


Want even MORE alphabet activities? Check out my list of 50 awesome alphabet activities by clicking on the image below or here.

alphabet activities for preschool

Need some alphabet books? We have 50! Click on the image below  or here to be taken to the reviews.

50 alphabet books

Alphabet Slime – Match Upper & Lowercase Letters

alphabet slime with glue and starch I am part of Elmer’s Crafty Teachers Crew and they asked me to create a fun learning activity with some of their products and share them with you. I knew exactly what I wanted to do…. make some alphabet slime!  Sensory materials like slime are fun all by themselves but adding a few items can turn a completely sensory experience into a sensorial literacy one. My daughter has known her letters for quite some time but still confuses lowercase b and d from time to time. This activity is a great way to work on upper and lowercase letter identification as well as fine motor development as your child or students dig through the slime for the small beads. My preferred way to use this activity is to set it all up and let the child explore, let them match up the letters or just PLAY. They will benefit from both options.

alphabet slime with elmer's glue

Gather your materials. You will need some Elmer’s clear school glue, Elmer’s glitter glue, glitter, liquid starch, alphabet beads, two ice cube trays, a marker, some bowls, and a spatula.

upper and lowercase matching activity from no time for flash cards

Before you mix up the slime write the lowercase letters in the ice cube tray with a permanent marker.

glue slime with elmer's glue

Here is the recipe I used – our slime was not very sticky and pretty thick. I kneaded it a lot! I like it strong and thick so little bits don’t go flying.

1 bottle of Elmer’s Clear School Glue
1/2 bottle of Elmer’s Glitter Glue
1 squeeze ( about a tablespoon) of Elmer’s School Glue
Glitter – We used the glitter from Elmer’s Craft Bond Glitter & Glue. One full tube for each color.
1/4 cup of liquid starch

sensory alphabet activity

I mixed the first four ingredients then added the starch and kneaded by hand. It got messy at times but,  it was quick to make.

alphabet slime

I made four colors, but my little assistant wanted to mix them together. The photos would have been SO much prettier if we didn’t but let’s all keep a good perspective on these activities. They aren’t for us or even Pinterest they are for our little ones SO MIX THE COLORS even if they end up brown or in our case a gun metal gray.

alphabet slime

Add the alphabet beads and mix.

alphabet slime

Set out the trays and the slime for your little letter finder.letter matching game with slime

Dig in!

alphabet slime

She spent about half the time digging for letters and putting them in the correct sections and the other half just playing and exploring the slime. alphabet slime letter activity

We sat together both digging in and picking out letters. sensory alphabet activity As well as giggling at the not so proper noises that the slime made as she pushed into it.

After a while we went looking for letters that we hadn’t found yet, she noticed which letters had the most beads in their sections and which were empty.

alphabet activity

Then she played some more!

alphabet activity

Using some novelty to reinforce or even introduce basic concepts makes them mush more fun. Using sensory materials like slime can offer children that need to squish and grab and squeeze an outlet to do that while still reaching more specific goals.

sensory play alphabet activity

Tomorrow I will share another simple idea we created with this slime after we got all the alphabet beads out – I will be taking it to my preschool class to explore with my students. Don’t miss it!

Alphabet Slime sensory activity for kids

As stated above this post is part of a sponsored program with Elmer’s Glue.

Easy Gem Letters – Alphabet Activities

alphabet activity Playing and creating with letters has been a fun way for my children and students over the years to get comfortable with letters, learn their shapes, and spark discussion about letters as we craft. As children color, paint, glue, and handle letters  while doing alphabet activities like this one they are learning. You can do this letter with upper or lowercase letters. I chose uppercase for my daughter because she is very comfortable and familiar with recognizing both and my goal for her is to get comfy with the shapes of the letters for writing. The handwriting program she uses at preschool and will be using in kindergarten next year focuses on uppercase first so we are focusing more on uppercase at this stage, though by no means ignoring the lowercase letters.  Adding jewels, buttons, stickers… is a novel way of personalizing this activity. My daughter adores these gems which made this activity a shoe in from the start. You don’t have to make a name sign but as we make the letters she wanted to make something and I suggested a name sign for a bedroom. She loved that idea.

Gather your materials. You will need some acrylic gems, sticky back foam, permanent double stick tape, scissors, and multiple sheets of card stock if you want to make a sign. alphabet actvity

Start by writing the outlines to the letters on the back of the foam. Don’t forget to make them backwards so when you cut them out they are correct. jeweld alphabet

Cut out. alphabet activity

Add the double stick tape. jeweled letters gemsI find this is way better on foam than glue. Once it’s down if you give it time to sit it will stay on forever. We did this craft before Christmas ( all those Christmas crafts pushed this one to drafts) and not a single gem has fallen off. This is VERY tricky. She did the straight letters and the curves ones I took care of. alphabet activity

Add the gems. This is where the literacy activity can easily morph into counting, patterns, shape recognition, even estimation. How many gems do you think will fit on this letter? Take cues for your kids to decide how much to push just make sure it doesn’t feel like pushing. gem lettersI had put them into pretty little containers to make it easier for her to grab them, but there was no point as she just dumped them on the table to get a better view.  This took a lot of patience and if your child is struggling let the tape settle and really adhere to the foam first before adding the gems. alphabet activity

Let them sit for a while. We used them to spell all sorts of things before settling on her name.

alphabet activity

Arrange them in whatever display you want . I layered a few sheets of card stock with more double stick tape to make the base of the sign.  You could do the same or get a cheap canvas and add them to that. callie gem letters

Peel the back of the foam off and stick onto the card stock. gem letters alphabet

Find the perfect place for it and hang it up. Like I said we made this before Christmas and since we hung it up she traces it every night before we turn the light off. It’s a sweet reminder of how proud she is of making it as well as just a good literacy activity. alphabet activity


Easy Alphabet Activity For Kids

alphabet activity This alphabet activity was created because my daughter adores the alphabet, she loves stamps, and I NEEDED 10 minutes to finish cleaning the bathrooms before my holiday guests arrived. She LOVED it and I wanted to say that while printables are great I know that for me printing something out can be cumbersome. I don’t have my printer out all the time and sometimes I am out of ink. I didn’t have time to make this a printable and I am glad for that now because it shows you that you don’t need it to be pretty and perfect to be useful and fun!

Gather your materials. You will need some paper, something to write on ( I love using clipboards), some letter stamps and stamp pad ( or stickers), and a marker.alphabet activity

Start by writing out the alphabet on a piece of paper leaving out some letters. I wrote out 5 sheets at once because I had a feeling ( and it was right) that my wee one would want to do a bunch.alphabet activity

Prepare the tools you are using with the sheets. You can also just have your little learner write the letters. I didn’t think my little one could accomplish that solo but in the days since we did that I think she might be able to. I am going to make some more sheets and repeat this activity, she loved it so much.alphabet activity

Let the fun begin! Adjust this activity to your child. If they struggle with some of the letters make sure that you have lots of letters they do not struggle with to balance out the success and challenge. If possible have the easy ones as the first few if you know there is a challenge ahead. If they are having a hard time sing the alphabet while touching each letter and when they get to a blank spot the song will act as a prompt. fill in the blank alphabet activity for kidsI quickly took pictures of the first sheet – ran next door and cleaned the bathroom while she yelled out which letters she was doing.alphabet activities

Then she called me in because she said she ” Made up an even better letter idea!” She grabbed a highlighter from her basket and started highlighting all the letters. This is a fun and easy way to work on letter formation anywhere but I’d only have kids this young (4) do it if they are interested. If they are resistant work on writing their name and more authentic writing like making signs, writing cards… anything that doesn’t make writing a chore. Start them out on the right foot. That said if they are like my daughter who is fond of writing and wants to do it, have the materials available and support them as they do. alphabet activity fill in the blanks

Learning doesn’t only happen with perfect graphics in all sorts of colors so don’t stress about picture perfect printables. They are fun and can add excitement at times but learning will happen when the activity fits the child no matter how pretty something is.