Move & Groove – Gross Motor Alphabet Game

alphabet for startersThis 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.

  1. 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 . alphabet for starters no time for flash cards
  2. 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. gross motor letter games
  3. 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.alphabet for starters
  4. Invite the kiddos. To have them start I have them find the first letter of their own names- hands on heads, eyes on me.
  5. Music starts and they dance !alphabet for starters
  6. Music stops and I hold up a letter.
  7. They find the match.
  8. Dance again! Match again.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

Leaf Matching Puzzles

leaf numbers
by Kim

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.

Alphabet Apple Tree

Alphabet For StartersLearning 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.

  1. 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. alphabet for starters
  2. 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. alphabet for starters
  3. Paint with a brush…alphabet for starters
  4. Or your hands. alphabet for starters 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.
  5. While that is drying and you are done washing the gallons of paint off your toddler make some apples from red and yellow paper.
  6. Add letters.alphabet for starters
  7. Once it’s dry tape the trunk to the wall . Add tape to the back of green paper and add it to the tree.
  8. Cover the top of the tree with contact paper sticky side OUT.
  9. Add the apples.
  10. Make sure that you are leaving a corner of the apple off to peel off.
  11. Basket in hand and ready to pick her apples!
  12. Go!
  13. 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.

Alphabet Book

“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.

 

Alphabet Photo Magnets – Alphabet For Starters

Alphabet for Starters is our series of playful activities and crafts to introduce letters to children in fun ways. These magnets are not just pictures with corresponding letters they are photos from a real life experience, with memories and meaning attached to them. This is what sets them apart from a batch of flash cards you can pick up anywhere. Even better is that all of the photos were taken by my son and I fit in some learning on the go for him too.You can do this with any theme or event so long as it’s meaningful and engaging for your child.

  1. Gather your materials. Before you head out to take photos make a small notebook with paper ( ours are old business cards) and write out or have your older child write out the alphabet. This was strategic on my part since my son struggles a little with writing especially writing small and the business cards forced him to write small.
  2. Next play tourist in your own city . My son played photographer and checked off the letters as he took the photos. Do not worry about trying to get every letter of the alphabet that isn’t the goal . The goal is to make meaningful and deep connections so focus on the letters with good and memorable experiences with them. 
  3. After you get home it’s time to edit , crop and add the text to the photos. I love picmonkey.com . Upload and edit each photo , add the text then save to your computer.
  4. I then made a collage on picmonkey with the photos and printed it out.
  5. To turn these photos into magnets you will need a few more things . Adhesive magnet sheets, contact paper and sharp scissors.
  6. After cutting all the photos out place them face down on one sheet of contact paper. Add a second sheet over and press.
  7. Cut out. I should say that  you can skip using contact paper to “laminate” the photos but it will make them last so much longer if you do.
  8. Peel the backing off the adhesive magnet sheets and place the photos on face up.
  9. Trim.Pop them on the washer , fridge or a cookie sheet and invite your little one to play. My daughter immediately told me what each one was and grabbed the M is for Map magnet and told me in a super excited 2 year old way that that was HER and she was reading the map! In the days that followed she has recounted stories while playing with them which is a really exciting step in early literacy. My son plays with her as well reminding her of bits and pieces of our trip to the zoo in the process. toddler alphabet activity

 

Sparkly Alphabet Craft – Alphabet For Starters

alphabet for starters craftsSometimes I plan out crafts and they rock and I share every step with you all saying ” Do it just like this!” today’s sparkly alphabet craft will not be ones of those times. I did almost all of this the hardest way possible but since my daughter was engaged and having fun with the letters I didn’t bother to scrap it all and start again when I had the right tools. This is another post in our Alphabet For Starters series that is all about playing and being exposed to letters in a fun and pressure free way. My daughter may only be 2 but sometime in the last few weeks she has become obsessed with princesses, fairies, pink and purple. When I asked her what kind of letter activity she wanted to do she said “Princess sparkle!” well it sounded like ” Pinpess spakles” but I knew what she meant. So we made this , a huge mess and had lots of fun.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a canvas, some vinyl letters ( we used small and large but I’d skip the small if I were you), paint brushes , paint and sparkles. So as you will see we ended up scraping the paint and going for glue instead. If I were you I’d find some great glitter paint that is dark enough to create the relief . Or you can do it the hard way like I did, results are great but it wasn’t the easiest.alphabet for starters
  2. Start by choosing letters and placing them on. We did it in alphabetical order because we’ve been learning the alphabet song and I’d since and stop before the right letter ” A B C D E …” and she’d say F and then I’d hand her the F to stick on. Her fine motor skills are not developed enough to peel the stickers off the pages ( they are stiff) but placing them on is still a great skill builder.alphabet for starters
  3. Take a photo of all the letters and where they are with your camera or phone, you’ll see why.
  4. So our plan was to add glitter to the paint – but the paint was too think and the glitter was too fine and our plan was a flop. You could easily just used paint.
  5. We grabbed glue instead.alphabet for starters
  6. I sat her on my lap to paint the glue on, it’s washable but I still wanted to wipe down anything she got it on right away.letter crafts for kids
  7. Make sure everything is covered in glue , I evened it out after she was done.alphabet for starters
  8. Add glitter, lots and lots of it. Make sure your dust buster is charged up , ours wasn’t and I had to make the playroom off limits for 12 hours while it charged.alphabet for starters
  9. Let it dry but not for too long. Using your pinky finger nail, and a photo of where the letters are on the canvas find the edge of the stickers and carefully peel off. See this is tricky but without a toddler helping and a picture of the the letters I did it without too much trouble. The important part is to find a corner only disturb a small amount of glitter and carefully peel. alphabet craft for kids
  10. Let dry for a few days, shake over a garbage can or drop cloth before displaying. letter crafts for kids

 

 Books with a little sparkle

princess books for girls

The Very Fairy Princessby Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton is a cute book about a little girl who loves all things princess related. What I like about this book is that it’s message isn’t heavy handed and  it celebrates princesses while sneaking in some very positive messages too. In a world where many parents ( me included) have issues with this whole princess thing and struggle to find that balance this book has it. It tells you it’s ok to want to be a princess and to “let your sparkle out!” and talks about confidence in the process. I must admit though I am a total Julie Andrews fan and I am not sure I’d ever dislike anything Maria , I mean Mary Poppins I mean Julie Andrews wrote.

The Sissy Ducklingby Harvey Fierstein is a lovely book. As a mom to a son I worry about him getting teased when he is older if he isn’t into sports, or likes to bake cookies more than play video games. This book address that, in a cute but frank way. I especially love how the dad isn’t super happy that his son is into more traditionally girly things. I think that even though we hope that all parents would be immediately supportive the reality is, that parents are human too and acceptance can take time even when there is lots of love.