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 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 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.
We are very fond of alphabet books not just for their educational value but for their entertainment too. Below you won’t find every alphabet book we’ve ever reviewed just our top 50. A great alphabet book for kids needs to be more than a bunch of flash cards bound together and these books all succeed in being great books that happen to also be alphabet books. They will keep kinds engaged , having fun with letters and making solid connections. There are so many different themes that no matter your child’s interests there should be something here to suit them. Want to read our reviews of each book? This list is duplicated with full reviews and photos here Alphabet Book Reviews .
- Z Goes Home by Jon Agee
- ABCDinosaurs ny American Museum of Natural History
- A Gardener’s Alphabetby Mary Azarian
- Alphabetter by Dan Bar-el
- Animalia by Graham Base
- ABC of Canada by Kim Bellefontaine
- Alligator Alphabet by Stella Blackstone
- Dogabet by Dianna Bonder
- Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown
- Quilt Alphabet by Lesa Cline- Ransome
- D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet by Carol Crane
- Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others)
- A Was an Apple Pie by Eitienne Deslessert
- Firefighters A to Z by Chris L. Demarest
- The Cowboy ABC by Chris L. Demarest
- Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert
- Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming
- Astonishing Animal ABC by Charles Fuge
- The ABC Bunny by Wanda Gag
- Alphabet Soup by Scott Gustafson
- O Is for Orca: An Alphabet Book by Andrea Helman
- T is for Touchdown: A Football Alphabet by Brad Herzog
- ABC USA by Martin Jarrie
- Alphabet City by Stephen Johnson
- What Pete Ate from A to Z by Marie Kalman
- “A” Was Once An Apple Pie by Edward Lear and Suse MacDonald
- The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionni
- Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
- The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus Letter Z! by Steve Martin
- Baby’s Alphabet by Jean Marzollo
- All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer
- Flora McDonnell’s ABC by Flora McDonnell
- Bruno Munari’s ABC by Bruno Munari
- Museum ABC by the Metropolitan Museum Of Art
- Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson
- The Graphic Alphabet by David Pelletier
- The Human Alphabet by Pilobolus
- The Ocean Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
- Al Pha’s Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
- D Is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet by Nancy I. Sanders
- Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur
- A is for America by Devin Scillian
- A Is for Zebra by Mark Shulman
- The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra
- Patty’s Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloat
- A Is for Astronaut: Exploring Space from A to Z by Traci N. Todd
- M Is For Maple: A Canadian Alphabet by Mike Ulmer.
- ABeCedarios: Mexican Folk Art ABCs in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill
- Alphabestiary: Animal Poems from A to Z by Jane Yolen
Do you have a favorite?This post contains affiliate links.
When my son started eating solids I made all his food… you can guess that is not the case with my daughter as I have this many baby food jar lids waiting to be made into something. I am just happy we made something useful and fun with them since they can’t be recycled like the jars can. This took me 5 minutes to make and $1 for the foam letter stickers. Frugal, Educational, Earth Friendly-ish ( foam letters are probably not eh?) and fun! Oh and super simple for the uncrafty or crazy busy .Oh and if your child is not ready for letters yet do colors, if they are way past letters try sight words. This idea can be adapted to any ability.
- Gather your materials. You will need some foam letter stickers and many jar lids (or milk jug caps would work too). You may want to do the whole alphabet but I didn’t bother letters work in all different combinations and you don’t need the whole alphabet each time you do activities with letters. You may also want a wet cloth to wipe any lids that didn’t get washed as well as you’d hoped.
- Peel and stick letters into the insides of the lids.
- Add them for each lid.
- Play. For beginners play with the letters facing up saying only “Can you find…” giving hints using the color and what letters it’s next to.
- For more experienced kids play face down. My 4.5 year old needed more help than I thought he would, not naming the letters but understanding he needed to remember where letters were. He also had a hard time flipping the lids with Grandma’s gloves Batman gloves on.
- Yay a match!
Quilt Alphabetby Lesa Cline- Ransome is a really pretty alphabet book that makes me think of autumn afternoons, my husband’s grandma ( she quilts) and crave caramel apples even though it’s not a strictly autumn book. Every page is devoted to a letter and the short poem that accompanies it never tells readers exactly what the letter represents, instead readers must figure it out. It’s not too hard though because the stunning illustrations in bright warm colors wonderfully give it away for every letter. My kids both liked it although my son was hoping that S would be for Superman explaining that he grew up on a farm in Kansas.
A Was an Apple Pie by Eitienne Deslessert takes the classic nursery rhyme and adds odd dinosaurish aardvarky creatures to it. I personally thought the creatures were odd to the point of distraction but my son gobbled up this book and loved the creatures . Yet another reason I don’t just read the books themselves , just cause I think something is odd doesn’t mean kids will. I really like the text to this because it’s simplicity is as brilliant as how it uses both all the upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet easily. Also because it’s such an old rhyme there are words we don’t often see in children’s contemporary literature and offers some new additions to your child’s vocabulary too.
“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.
Letter of the week has been a popular feature on our blog for a few years now, but it’s not so popular at my kitchen table anymore. My son has known his letters for what feels like forever so to get him interested it takes something special… like a map. He loves maps, and will often ask us ” How do you get to Nebraska? How do you get to Paris? ” So we find the map and we decide if we should fly, drive or take a boat. I capitalized on that love to do this simple cutting and letter activity.
- Gather your materials you will need an old atlas or map ( you will be cutting it ), kid scissors, a marker, piece of construction paper and glue.
- Start by looking at a map . We looked at a map of the US since my son is into learning about states right now. Choose a state or country to check out. He chose Utah, we don’t know why but he loves Utah, like a lot.
- Flip to it if you are using an Atlas. If you just have one map to use, take some time looking at it with your child, look for different points of interest . This activity is as much a lesson to familiarize kids with maps and geography as it is one for the letter m.
- Tear out the page and write an M, if your child is able to have them write it. It’s easy to turn it into a block M by adding to theirs.
- Cut it out. This will take time.
- Encourage them when it gets tricky. This was the most line cutting my son has ever done, honestly I was pleasantly surprised he did it all. He was pretty proud too.
- Add glue
- “Slam Utah down” His words. Let dry.
It’s an easy project but the cutting takes patience and builds skills , the exploration of the map sparks discussion and the letter recognition comes along for the ride!
Learning at Snack Time Too
While my son flipped through the atlas I fixed him a snack. I knew which state he was looking for and was just thankful it was Utah, I didn’t have enough ham for any other state.
ABC USAby Martin Jarrie is another beautiful alphabet book! Like most alphabet books it devotes a page to each letter with vibrant illustrations . Not everything in this book is by any means unique to the United States but most are. I specifically appreciated the I for Immigrants page, both from a historical and personal perspective, my son loved the J for Jazz and we both loved all the whimsical illustrations. There are a lot of learning opportunities presented as well, school age children could really benefit from it as well the 2 letters that stood out for me for further learning were U for Underground Railroad and V for Valley Forge. How ever you use this it’s worth a look for certain.
All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer was more fun for my husband and I than for my son 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.
Scrap paper , magazines and catalogs all crowd my recycle bin. So today I put them all to work for me and made this recycled alphabet craft using only one piece of paper that hadn’t been rescued from the bin. It’s fun, bright and makes a great long term cooperative art project for young kids. Pull it out when it’s rainy and search for a few letters in a magazine, glue them on and add some more another day. I like projects like these because they teach young kids how be committed to something over more than 20 minutes. Also in classrooms these long term cooperative projects always seemed to be the greatest sources of pride for my students.
- Gather your materials. You will need one large piece of paper, some construction paper scraps, glue, a pen, some magazines/catalogs and scissors.
- Start by cutting your construction paper into squares ( or any other shape)- this just makes a fun frame, you can skip this and simply glue the letters onto the paper too.
- Glue them on. This is a fun way to get your child counting to 26, as well as figuring out how to fit all on one page. If your child is really young I would probably do this before bringing them into the activity, just so their energy is on the letters, not the set up.
- Write the alphabet on the construction paper squares.
- Cut some letters out of the magazines for your child if they need help. I did this for every age group I worked with up until school age. They are still challenged looking for the individual letters but not frustrated by looking for them in magazines that may or may not have what they need. * Tip … auto magazines are great for these activities, because of the abundance of car makes with Z, Q and X letters that are usually a pain to find.
- Start adding the letters on. Go for as long as your child wants. This does not need be be done in one sitting!
- To make it more challenging for older kids have them find only upper or only lowercase letters.
ABC of Canada by Kim Bellefontaine is a cute little book that is a perfect little introduction about Canada for toddlers and preschoolers. The text is short, the colors are bright and the illustrations are both fun and accurate. I was happy to see things like the northern lights, Calgary Stampede and of course Z is for Zamboni ! Even if you have never been to Canada it’s never too early to learn about your neighbor to the north!
The Alphabet Tree is a stunning book. The book is all about letters that come together to make words and then after a caterpillar informs them that they need to say something they join together to make sentences. Up to this point the book is a brilliant teaching tool , but for me the best part is yet to come. When the words get together they decide to say ” Peace on earth goodwill toward all men” and then the caterpillar asks them to jump on his back so he can take the words to the president . Considering it was written in 1968 it’s quite the statement. A fantastic activity to do with your child after reading this would be to ask them what they would write to the president ? For younger children using letters on leaves you could spell out easy 3 letter words like they do early on in the story. All in all a brilliant book.
The Graphic Alphabet by David Pelletier is a fun book to share with a child who has already mastered the alphabet, because this book is challenging. Each letter is shown in it’s own illustration, but you aren’t sure exactly what the picture is of, this is the challenge. As you can see on the cover it has an avalanche, the hardest one for me was N no matter how I looked at the picture I thought it was of magnets! Turns out it was noodles! Very fun book for kids that already know their letters and are up for a challenge.
Want more Alphabet Crafts? Check out my Alphabet Crafts eBook and you will have a craft for every letter!