I love doing active alphabet activities with my toddler. They don’t have to be big running or throwing games ( although those are great too) just simple ones that aren’t restricted to a table or sitting. The other day on the walk to her brother’s bus stop she pointed to the half moon and declared ” A lowercase moon Mama!” and since that declaration we’ve been exploring and seeking out more lowercase letters in our books. As you will see this activity was still challenging for her as I thought it would be but we worked on it together and I have left it up in our playroom to use as a talking point . In a class it would be a great group project too. For more alphabet ideas for beginners check out all of our Alphabet For Starters series.
- Gather your materials. You will need some craft paper , scissors, fall leaves ( make your own or pop to the dollar store before they all disappear) , markers , painter’s tape and double stick tape. I also have a container of crayons because my daughter wanted to color some of the leaves as well.
- Start by writing out a variety of upper and lowercase letters on the leaves. I did half the alphabet in upper and half in lower. Do however many you want in any combination. Remember we are playing not drilling. I made a good number of letters that are the same in either one too. This builds some freebies in which is always good for confidence building.
- Next make a bare tree with your craft paper. I cut free hand because I am way better at cutting than drawing. Do what works for you. Attach it to the wall with painter’s tape. While you do that if you have a little artists with you waiting to learn let them color the leaves and don’t forget to slip in a few ” You are coloring the uppercase m !” etc… getting into the habit of labeling what they are doing really helps make it more natural and it teaches them in such a natural way.
- Add double stick tape to the branches and the roots. Now ONLY use this if you are not planning on repositioning the leaves. They can be taken off and moved immediately but after they are on for a few minutes they will rip. If you need to be able to move them use contact paper sticky side out held on with permanent double stick tape.
- Make a pile of leaves and start sorting. She always starts with her first initial. You will have to explain to your child that upper case letters go on top and the lowercase on the bottom. I try never to use the terms big and little since you can have a 6 foot high lowercase b or a tiny uppercase one. Using the proper terms especially when they are just starting out really helps. I found myself saying ” Upper goes up and lower stays low!” as we went through the letters.
- Encourage them to find letters they know or like and then hand them ones that maybe they are struggling with. My daughter is only 2 so I am not purposefully handing her any letters yet as it’s all introduction and play. If she was older and mixing up b and d I would target that or maybe g and j … do not turn this into drill and test. It’s hard not to sometimes but keep it light and fun. If your child puts a uppercase letter with the lowercase don’t worry instead ask them about it they may be confused and you can address that, they may have a really good only a 4 year old can think it up reason or they may catch their mistake and correct it themselves which is 20 times better than having someone correct it for you. This is as far as she went and I was thrilled .
- I sorted the rest out loud as she played with her doll house next to me.
I love monster crafts and so do my kids. My daughter is all about googly eyes right now and since she has stopped putting everything in her mouth I am excited to let her use them. This monster craft was a blast to make and I have some tips to make sure that there is ample alphabet learning involved too. This is the 15th post in our popular Alphabet For Starters series which is all about playing and learning letters in fun simple ways.If you are looking for a more traditional approach to letters we have our Letter Of The Week series as well.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper, scissor, contact paper, foam letters ( ours are stickers but I left the backing on ) and googly eyes. You might also want some painter’s tape to keep the contact paper on the table.
- Start by folding your paper in half and cutting out a monster shape. Then cut the middle out .
- Peel the backing off the contact paper and place it sticky side up on the table. Place the monsters on it.
- Invite your kiddo to the table and create! As you can see she was instantly interested.
- As she chose letters she naturally named them or asked what they were called. At this point she knows all her uppercase letters but will still ask me sometimes. Usually I say some outlandish thing like ” It’s Mama!” and she will say ” No you Mama, dis is W! ” I only do that if I know it won’t confuse her. She giggles and it’s a game where she gets to be the smarty know it all which for a toddler that gets bossed around by pretty much everyone including a smarty know it all brother it’s a nice feeling to have.
- Picking up the googly eyes off the flat table is tricky and I placed them like that on purpose, it forced her to really use those fine motor skills to pick them up and place them on the monster. I loved that she put one in the inside of the Q!
- At one point she asked me to do it so instead of just packing up or doing the craft myself as per her request , I grabbed a few letters and said ” Which monster do you want to put the P on? ” That was enough for her to keep going. Don’t push it if they are done though. I could tell she wasn’t done just wanted to tackle it together.
- Once your monster ( or monsters) are done you can simply cut them out and display or sandwich them with another piece of contact paper.
- Display. I love that one of her monsters spells out rad , a word I use way more than I should !
This is a super simple alphabet game that gets kids moving and grooving while they learn their letters. This is part 14 of our Alphabet For Starters series, a series of alphabet activities that use play and exploration to introduce and learn letters. We did the game as a lower and uppercase match but you can adjust it for your needs and child’s abilities. To be honest I wasn’t exactly sure if I was at the target level of learning for my daughter , I wanted it to be challenging but attainable so I enlisted her brother to help. He loved being her guide even though she only needed him a couple of times. Soon he had the controls and I went to warm up my coffee. Here is how you can make your own gross motor alphabet game.
- Gather your materials. You will need some paper or card stock , a marker, painters tape and some good music your kids will dance to. Ours was Call Me Maybe .
- Start buy pushing some furniture out of the way and making letters our of the painter’s tape right on the floor. Don’t feel like you have to do all the letters. Every lesson doesn’t need to cover every letter. I admit I did mostly ones that were easier to make with tape.
- Write the lowercase letters on the paper. ** Adaptations ** You can also write the same uppercase letters and simply have your child match them or for even older kids you can write a word and have them find the first letter.
- Invite the kiddos. To have them start I have them find the first letter of their own names- hands on heads, eyes on me.
- Music starts and they dance !
- Music stops and I hold up a letter.
- They find the match.
- Dance again! Match again.
- This went on for a long time and after it was apparent that my daughter understood and could do most of the letters herself my son wanted to be what he called the ref. So they played solo.
- I went for coffee and popped my head in every now and then. We’d play again but my daughter sneaked into the living room after dinner last night and tore up all the letters. Maybe sometime this week I will put new ones we didn’t have down and we’ll play again. It was a hit and both my 5.5 year old and 2 year old liked it which is not always the case.
50 Alphabet Books
Reading alphabet books has made a world of difference for both my son and my daughter learning their letters and choosing good, interesting and visually awesome books helps. These 50 alphabet books are my favorites . Many have themes and choosing a theme that appeals to your child is a great way to get more reluctant lap sitters or book listeners involved.
Looking for a fun way to practice number recognition? Then look no further. Playing with these letter and number recognition puzzles is a fun way to get little fingers and mind active. This is an activity you will want to do ahead of time and have ready for the little ones.
Grab a piece of corrugated cardboard, a marker, and a pair of scissors. You can use posterboard or craft foam, but corrugated cardboard is so much thicker and it is easier for your child to see that they are matching the pieces up correctly.
Draw some leaves on the cardboard. Then draw a line through them. I like to do a squiggly line to help the pieces “lock” in together better. Now draw a number on one side of the leaf and dots corresponding to that number on the other side.
Cut out the leaves. This is the part where you will be glad you are not making these pieces with your children. Cutting the cardboard can be tricky because it is so thick.
You can also draw and cut out leaves with upper and lower case letters to match up.
*VARIATION- Math equations would offer a more challenging task for older siblings that want to join in the fun, too. For younger children (and ambitious caregivers) you could color the leaves for color matching.
Cut along the line you drew that divides the leaf.
Now divide your leaf pieces into two sections. One section with the numbers written on them and one section with the dots drawn on them, or upper case letters and lower case letters.
Watch your child match them up. It is fun to watch them match different ways each time. Sometimes my daughter would match by number recognition and then counting the dots. While other times she matched the shape of the leaves.
Any way they match is great practice for reasoning and logic skills. Putting the pieces together make great motor skill exercise, too.
Kim is a contributing writer for No Time For Flash Cards, a mom to a toddler, a preschooler, and a foster parent, too. She juggles her day by trying out fun activities and crafts with the kids. After all, she is just a big kid herself. See what she has been up to over at Mom Tried It.
Learning the alphabet comes in many forms. Our Alphabet For Starters series is all about playing with letters in a creative environment and this letter activity was a huge hit! There are lots of ways of changing it around for different levels too so don’t miss my notes after the tutorial if you want to do this with children who aren’t just starting out with letters. This may seem like a simple letter activity and it is but it’s sneaky too. Little fingers have to peel the apples off giving their fine motor skills some serious work.
- Gather your materials. This picture is incomplete because I shifted my plan part way through and so glad I did, the final result was a blast! You will need some craft paper or paper bag, brown paint, paint brush, marker, scissors, contact paper, and green, yellow and red paper . A basket is not a must but if you have one grab it.
- Start by cutting a truck from craft paper or a paper bag. I taped it down because my daughter is exuberant with paint ( you’ll see) and this helps keep it all in one place.
- Paint with a brush…
- Or your hands. You really don’t need to have your child(ren) help make the tree but when kids help make the activity there is a deeper connection to the learning.
- While that is drying and you are done washing the gallons of paint off your toddler make some apples from red and yellow paper.
- Add letters.
- Once it’s dry tape the trunk to the wall . Add tape to the back of green paper and add it to the tree.
- Cover the top of the tree with contact paper sticky side OUT.
- Add the apples.
- Make sure that you are leaving a corner of the apple off to peel off.
- Basket in hand and ready to pick her apples!
- She really had a great time and got excited to announce which apples she was picking. As always she chose the first letter of her name first followed by the mine, her brother’s and her dad’s. It’s exciting to see that she connects letters to people meanings outside of the immediate activity. As soon as we were done she bolted from the playroom full basket in hand to show her dad all her letter apples. I would have taken a shot of his but he was sorting laundry and well my literal dirty laundry has no place on the internet .
How to take it to the next step :
- Have a chart of lowercase letters and have your child peel off the uppercase apples to match the lowercase letters.
- Use sight words instead of letters. Call out the sight word and have your child find , peel and pop them in the basket.
“A” Was Once An Apple Pie by Edward Lear and Suse MacDonald is an adaptation of the classic Edward Lear poem that had both my children transfixed. The bold bright colors kept my daughter who is 10 months old wide eyed the whole time and the playful way Suse MacDonald adapted the text had my son listening from A-Z as well. It was incredibly fun to read allowed tongue tying me at times which resulted in us all giggling hysterically in a heap. A book that can do that is a must have in my opinion.