Painting with Cookie Cutters

abc activityWith summer around the corner I usually shift from more involved activities to simpler ones . We used these alphabet cookie cutters for a playdough activity ages ago and they were the perfect tool for this painting activity.  I loved how amazed my daughter was every time she lifted the cookie cutter up to reveal the letter below. This is such an easy way to play with letters. There is no structure just colors, tools and exploration. This post is part of our Alphabet For Starters series. A series of posts that introduce and play with letters.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint, plates, alphabet cookie cutters ( or any shape really you don’t have to do the alphabet) and some paper.
  2. If you want to extend the activity a little take some time to mix colors with the paint. We used different colors and added white paint with each . My daughter called them ice cream colors. I have to agree! There are no pictures of us mixing the colors because her mixing got rather exuberant . Remember to have a wet cloth on hand so you don’t have to stash the toddler covered in paint under your arm while running to get one like I did.abc painting mixing
  3. Spread the paint on the paper plates, lay your paper down and go for it!abc painting colors
  4. She had a blast and it’s such a natural activity for letter recognition. You don’t even have to prompt your child if they are at all familiar with letters they will likely announce which they are using.  If not feel free to say things like ” Look you made an orange H ! Cool! ” but keep it light. I have no clue why her foot is on the window ledge but I am rather in awe of her flexibility.abc painting with letter cookie cutters
  5. Keep going and if your paper is large rotate it for more room to stamp.abc letter painting
  6. Let dry and display. Try to always display your children’s creations even if you only hang them up for a short while. Let them feel pride in their accomplishments.

Awesome ABC Books 

eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F eek, since it’s all about food!  Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

alphabeep

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.

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Sidewalk Chalk – 4 Letter Activities

by Allison McDonald outdoor activities for kidsThis 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 : 

outside learning activities for kids

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 :

letter activities with sidewalk chalk  for kids

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.

letter games action words on letters

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!

letter activities spelling with sidewalk chalk

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. letter activities and spelling  with sidewalk chalkHe loved it and as you can see he had a shadow .

letter spraying with sidewalk chalk

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!

 

Alphabet Road – Letter Sorting

letter craftby Allison McDonald

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.

  1. 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.alphabet sorting with cars and trucks
  2. Start by making your cars and trucks. Cut the cars out.alphabet sorting for preschool with cars and trucks 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.alphabet uppercase and lowercase sorting with car theme
  3. Lay a large sheet of contact paper down sticky side up and lay the cars face down.alphabet letter sorting for preschool 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. alphabet for starters car theme
  4. Add the magnets. alphabet activity car lettersNow 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 .alphabet magnet 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.
  5. 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.car and truck alphabet activity
  6. Ready to play! This is what it would look like if I handed it to my 6 year old.alphabet game 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.alphabet game for kids
  7. 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.alphabet game for preschool
  8. The trickiest part for her were letters like w and o.alphabet activity kids She thought for a long time before placing them down. She just kept piling them on. alphabet activity with cars and trucksAnd was insistent that she show it off at the end. I was impressed with how many magnets piled together still stayed in place.alphabet road activity

Alphabet Book

alphabeep

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 Love

This book review includes an affiliate link.

Alphabet Activity – Flower Garden

by Allison McDonald alphabet activityWe have been doing so many playdough and other sensory activities lately that it was about time to get back to a simple and playful alphabet activity. This alphabet activity is part of our Alphabet For Starters series. This series is all about playing with letters, discovering them without pressure. This alphabet garden is super simple but can be made more challenging with a few simple changes.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some contact paper ( rumor has it that the dollar store is carrying it now! ), some green construction paper, multi-color construction paper, scissor and a marker or two.letter flower garden
  2. Attach the contact paper to the wall sticky side out. She loves to “get stuck” on the wall . letter flower mural
  3. Next step is making some grass. Fold your green paper, and cut.letter garden grass
  4. Next cut some stems and flowers. I did tulips because they are easy to free hand cut.letter garden alphabet activity for toddlers
  5. Add letters to your flowers. Now here is where you can easily customize this activity. For my daughter I did plain old lowercase letters. You can do upper or a mix or write letters on the stems and have it turn into a match game.letter flowers for alphabet activities
  6. Set the pieces out and let your kiddo explore.letter flowers
  7. My daughter loves flowers and she got right into it. alphabet letter activityWe talked about the letters, the colors of the flowers and how the stems are different lengths. Don’t pressure young kids to do every letter. My daughter put a handful on while we played the first time and then I left it all set up and a few days letter she returned and added a few more. I will leave it up for a few more days and I am sure she will keep adding a few every day.letter flower alphabet The whole point is to play and discover letters. As she adds the letters to the wall she naturally says ” Look this is A,  it’s your letter Mama!” and we talk about it .flower letters for toddlers

If you are looking for a more traditional letter of the week approach we have many letter of the week ideas here. My son loved cutting and pasting so we made fun letter crafts when he was learning his letters. Find what works best for your child, what they enjoy and don’t forget to have fun!

 

Easter Egg Letter Match – Alphabet For Starters

easter egg letter recognition activityby Allison McDonald

This uppercase lowercase letter match activity is not ground breaking but combining it with an Easter theme helps makes letter recognition practice and skill development into play.  Adding a fun novelty like a holiday theme does wonders for kids motivation and a motivated child is a child ready to learn. This activity is part of our Alphabet for Starters series which focuses on fun playful ways to learn the alphabet.  A few easy adaptations for different levels would be doing a straight identical letter match having only all lower or all uppercase letters and doing this with sight words for emergent readers.

  1. Gather your materials. I got this egg tray at Walmart for under a dollar. I almost bought all 4 colors but I restrained myself and let my daughter pick her favorite color. You could use an egg carton just as effectively no need to buy anything special. You will also need some paper, marker , plastic Easter eggs and a bucket for the eggs. A circle paper punch is optional for the letters in the tray. You may also want some tape to tape the paper in the tray down. Ours got staticky and interrupted the flow a few times. easter egg letter match 2
  2. Start by writing lowercase letters on small pieces of paper. Try to include a majority of letters your child knows ( about 2/3) and some you know have been challenging in the past. This will hopefully give them a good balance of ” This is challenging but I can do it!” which is the perfect zone for learning. Easter Egg Letter Match 3
  3. Pop them in your tray. easter egg letter match 5
  4. Write the corresponding upper case letters on the eggs in marker. easter egg letter match
  5. Put the eggs in the bucket and invite your letter matcher to the table. easter egg letter activity for kids
  6. Start matching. easter egg letter match alphabet activityShe wanted to put the lowercase letter in the egg after matching them which is a fun add on even though a few of the eggs didn’t want to close back up and that frustrated her greatly. I think an older child would do wonderfully with this add on even if it proved to be too much for a 2 year old. I was tricky for her but with some help she got it. After that it was smooth sailing.easter egg letter match 4 I thought Q would give her trouble but she was a champ.Easter Egg Letter Match 10 Celebrate any and all victories. Easter Egg Letter Match 9

Books About Easter

Where-Are-Baby-s-Easter-Eggs

Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs? by Karen Katz is a great way of having an Easter egg hunt while reading a story. If you aren’t familiar with the ” Where are  Baby’s …” series of life the flap books, they are simple books where the reader searches for an item finding other things first before finally finding the title object, in this case Easter eggs. My daughter loves these books and plays with them even when we aren’t reading them together. I love the bright illustrations and the simple holiday theme.

Easter books

The Best Easter Eggs Ever! by Jerry Smath is an adorable book about Easter. The story follows the Easter bunny and his 3 young assistant bunnies as they prepare for their big day. The Easter Bunny is getting tired and a little bored of his polka dot design for the eggs and decides to send out his assistants in search of new designs. The little bunnies head out with one egg and paints to all different places to find inspiration. When one of the little bunnies is captivated by the night sky she doesn’t notice how dark it is and how lost she has gotten. The Easter Bunny and his other assistants find her and in the morning the new designs are celebrated. My son loves an inside look at any sort of secret place like  the Easter Bunny’s or Santa’s workshop so he was drawn into this book immediately. I liked the illustrations and how detailed they were , it certainly got me excited about Easter.

easter books for kids

The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing is a Easter version of the classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas” . With fun pictures and an Easter Bunny so joyful I wanted to apply for his job this book was a hit at our house. My son was engaged through the whole book guessing at the rhymes and listening intently from one page to the next. Of all the books this was the only one that really engaged my toddler as well. She pointed out animals and loved the little boy in the book. Great Easter book.

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