Alphabet For Starters
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.
by Allison McDonald We 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.
- 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.
- Attach the contact paper to the wall sticky side out. She loves to “get stuck” on the wall .
- Next step is making some grass. Fold your green paper, and cut.
- Next cut some stems and flowers. I did tulips because they are easy to free hand cut.
- 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.
- Set the pieces out and let your kiddo explore.
- My daughter loves flowers and she got right into it. We 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. 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 .
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pop them in your tray.
- Write the corresponding upper case letters on the eggs in marker.
- Put the eggs in the bucket and invite your letter matcher to the table.
- Start matching. She 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. I thought Q would give her trouble but she was a champ. Celebrate any and all victories.
Books About Easter
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.
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.
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.This post contains affiliate links.
This was a rainy Sunday activity thrown together with a old favorite pretend play prop. It’s a great alphabet activity with a focus on pretend play and part of our Alphabet For Starters series. My son and I madethis mail boxyears ago and it had been a while since I’d dug it out of my son’s closet to play. We added in some envelopes and letters and got down to the serious business of play!
- Gather your materials. You will need a super cool mailbox like this one we made from a box, some envelopes, small squares of paper, markers, plain labels, and a bag or purse to use as a mail bag.
- Start by having your child write some letters.
- While they do that write out the envelopes with upper and lowercase letters.
- Fill them with the letters your child writes. I filled a few with other letters as well .
- Next add stamps. Ours were added haphazardly after my daughter demanded we find some. I just wrote STAMP on some plain labels.
- Pop them on the envelopes.
- Time to play. We put each letter in the mailbox stopping to read each envelope as we did.
- When we were done she lifted the box and the play turned into receiving mail.
- She loved opening them. Some were filled with the letters she wrote and some had more letters of the alphabet on them. Label what they open as they do. As we played some of the letters were pretend invites to parties, others were letters from grandparents and one was a bill which cracked me up.
Find our 50 favorite alphabet books for kids in this big round up of books. Do you have a favorite?
I am still calling this an alphabet for starters activity but really my little girls is graduating to just plain alphabet activities. Matching upper and lowercase letters is not really a beginner activity but the playful way to learn with a memory game still meets the goal of this series . Playful alphabet activities. This game would be a cinch to adjust for more novice learners. Simply stick to only one case of letters or scrap the memory game and try something more straight forward like my friend Jamie did a few days ago on Hands On As We Grow. To make it tougher skip using the scaffold of the matching colors and use only one color of hearts. To see our other Alphabet for Starters activities see our list here.
- Gather your materials. You will need a sharpie and some colorful foam hearts. I got both at the dollar store for a buck each.
- Write out letter pairs with one upper and one lowercase letter. I didn’t do the whole alphabet , I rarely do. I choose letters I know she knows ( M, A, J) and some I know she struggles with ( Q, G, ) and fill in the gaps randomly. Also each pair is done in the same color. When we played I told my daughter to find the same color. This made the game much more accessible for a 2 year old and gave her color recognition work to boot.
- Lay out your hearts face down.
- Play. She was enthusiastic immediately. I demonstrated once and she was off. We left our letters face up in their own spaces when we matched them up. She was thrilled when her letter ( M) was flipped over and even happier when she made a match. The first time we played she called the Q a “funny O” we tried to figure out what letter is was and I ended up labeling it for her and we kept playing. The next day ( we’ve played daily for 5 days in a row so far) she called it a Q and matched it to it’s lowercase letter without any prompting. No drill needed , just a fun game.
- Celebrate with each match and hoot and holler when you have completed the whole game! I often gets asked if I play against my kids for memory games. Sometime I do but usually I don’t. We play as a team . For my daughter with a game like this I will narrate with her after she identifies a letter unprompted I will say ” Hmm I wonder which heart the lowercase B is under ?” or some such thing. If she is having a hard time with a letter. I will try to ask questions to help her instead of just telling her. Like with the Q I said ” What letter do you have ?” and she answered ” A funny O.” then I said ” What makes it funny?” ” It has a tail Mama!” . To which I replied ” Do O’s have tails.” and she giggled saying “No!” and I said ” That is a an uppercase Q.” Even at such a young age kids can help figure things out and when we engage them like this they learn to ask questions , answer others and not just guess at the right answer.