This simple alphabet activity is a snap to put together and combines fine motor development and letter recognition . I did this with my daughter who just turned 3 , older children could be encouraged to not only add the stars but to also write the letters or whole words. This is part of our Alphabet For Starters series of posts that aim to introduce and play with letters in a fun creative way without pressure. Children learn best when they are free to explore and make positive connections with material and these activities aim to do that . You can see our other posts here.
- Gather your materials. You will need some black construction paper , chalk in various colors ( although just white would be a OK ), some star stickers and scissors.
- Start by cutting your paper into smaller pieces. Write letters on the paper using the chalk. You can do this dry or wet for a more vibrant color. I made a handful of letters , some my daughter is very familiar with ( letters in her name) some she doesn’t see as often.
- Present all the letters and stickers to your child. Explain what a constellation is and that you’d be making them with letters. The way I explained it to my daughter was that they are shapes and drawings made when you connect the stars in the sky with pretend lines. I didn’t go into it any deeper than that for her but with an older child you absolutely could.
- Add the stars. For her age just peeling them off was hard work as was carefully placing them on the letter. Encourage and praise but make sure it’s not empty. I naturally say “Good job” a lot and have been trying to use more specific praise instead. Saying things like ” You worked hard to get that sticker off. ” is much more beneficial than an empty ” Good job!”
- She happily made 3 letters and I didn’t push her to make more. Instead I placed them together with the stickers on a tray and made sure they were accessible for her to make more when she chose to.
Space Themed Alphabet Book
A Is for Astronaut: Exploring Space from A to Z by Traci N. Todd is a typical themed alphabet book that is atypically funky. The vintage illustrations and historical photos from NASA makes this book stand out from other similar books. Each letter represents a number of space related items and the historical photos are so powerful in this because it bridges the gap from being a story to being information that children are eager to dive into further. There is something so powerful about a photograph to make that connection that this really happened, these guys really walked on the moon in ” the olden days” as my son calls any time before his birth in 2006.This post contains an affiliate link
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
by Allison McDonald This post wasn’t planned at all but the series I am going to create with it is . This is going to be the first in a series of posts that are unplanned and on the go. The pictures might not be as good because they will all be taken with my iPhone but the fun will be ! I don’t know if there will be 2 or 50 posts in this series but I hope that they will be useful to you and your kids. This one shows you how to do simple letter activities with sidewalk chalk and a spray bottle or two.
What we were doing when inspiration struck :
My son was shooting hoops and my daughter was drawing with sidewalk chalk. I was trying to play with both of them and like always one of them was not happy with how much ( or how little) attention I was paying them compared to their sibling . You can’t see my daughter because she is on my leg asking me to draw her a bulldozer with the chalk.
What I did :
Took the sidewalk chalk and wrote out some letters.
What it turned into :
1. Find The Letter / Letter Sound
Simple game of me calling out a letter and my daughter would run to it. After she found them all easily I turned it to letter sounds which was much more challenging . I only did a few letter sounds not expecting her to know them but introducing them playfully.
2. Letter Action Words
This continues the find the letter with a little more movement. I called out the letter and asked her to perform an action that starts with that letter . So I would say ” Can you jump on the j? ” and ” Now wiggle on the w ! “ as you can see she had a blast with this one. I will be repeating this for sure!
3. Walk and Spell
Now it was time to get the big guy over. The object of this activity was to spell out simple words by walking to each letter. I called out simple words like hat, bat, cap, tap, jam, Sam … I chose to always call out one word then after he was successful a 2nd changing only the first letter . This set him up for success while still offering a challenge. He loved it and as you can see he had a shadow .
4. Read and Spray
( grab some spray bottles and fill with water)
This was really just my attempt to clean the cul-de-sac up. My kids went from letter to letter spraying and calling out the letter names.
I hope you will follow this series of ” Unplanned and On The Go ” activities because they will be perfect bursts of learning for a busy summer schedule!
Last week we played with our Alphabet Garden and a commenter asked how I could make it for children who loved cars and trucks. This is the letter sorting game that I came up with for cars and trucks. You could do it as a magnet activity like we did or put it all on a sheet of contact paper like our alphabet garden, whatever best fits your child. This activity is part of our Alphabet for Starters series that is focused on making playing with letters fun and dynamic. This can be adapted to any level. For children just beginning to notice letters they can simply put the letters on the road. Don’t worry about sorting into cases. For older children use the letters to spell. Write words with a missing letter and have your older child fill in the blank. Here is what we did for my daughter who is familiar with both upper and lowercase letters and enjoys sorting them.
- Gather your materials. You will need some black construction paper, green construction paper ( scraps would work great), clear contact paper , pictures of cars and trucks ( mine come from wrapping paper) , self adhesive magnetic sheets, a white crayon, scissors, a marker and a cookie sheet from the dollar store.
- Start by making your cars and trucks. Cut the cars out. Add the letters. I didn’t do every letter in both upper and lowercase. I chose letters that my daughter has trouble with mixed in with some sure fire bets so she would be challenged but confident in her ability.
- Lay a large sheet of contact paper down sticky side up and lay the cars face down. Place another sheet on top to sandwich the cars inside. Or laminate if you have access to a laminator. I am very jealous if you do. Nothing gets a teacher ( even a former teacher) more excited than laminating something. Cut into individual cars and trucks.
- Add the magnets. Now if you have a child who is well past the putting things in their mouth stage cut little squares and stick them on the back of the cars. If you want you could also lay the whole laminated car on the sticky back magnet sheet and then cut . This will make it harder for the to peel any small piece off. Please always remember that all our activities are designed for children to do with a parent within arms reach and only if they are ready for the activity. You don’t have to make the pieces magnetic for the kids to have fun, it’s just a bonus.
- Make a simple road and some signs saying UPPERCASE ROAD and lowercase road . These give visual cues even for kids that aren’t reading independently . You can add magnets to these if you want too. Painter’s tape is a great choice if you are skipping the magnets but want these pieces to stay in place temporarily.
- Ready to play! This is what it would look like if I handed it to my 6 year old. For my almost 3 year old it looked like this. She ended up sorting all the letters but I gave them to her in bite size pieces so she wasn’t overwhelmed.
- She loves cars and trucks right now ( well really bulldozers are the best) so she was all into it. After the first few were put on she asked me for more. Remember to label what your child is doing and to sit back. If they ask for help be ready to support but don’t take over.
- The trickiest part for her were letters like w and o. She thought for a long time before placing them down. She just kept piling them on. And was insistent that she show it off at the end. I was impressed with how many magnets piled together still stayed in place.
Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson is a great book for older toddlers and preschoolers. The transportation themed book uses rhymes and colorful illustrations to go from A to Z. The text was a bit long for my young toddler but I shortened it and he was able to enjoy the book , children 2 and up will love it just the way it is! This is on my must buy list. Edited for 2013 : My daughter also loved this book and had me read it twice at the library which is a glowing review.
For more Alphabet Books check out our list of 50 Alphabet Books We LoveThis book review includes an affiliate link.