Easy ABC Place Mat – Alphabet For Starters

Our whole goal with the Alphabet For Starters series is to expose our youngest learners to letters in a playful way. We want them to recognize, explore and get comfy with letters instead of drilling them inappropriately. This is a parent made craft but it’s more than that, it’s a fantastic tool for daily letter play. Oh and it’s a completely functional place mat too! Thanks to the people at DecoArts for sending me the Ink Effects paints that allow users to transfer painted designs to fabric this craft really was easy.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a light colored place mat ( less cotton the better) , decor arts paints , decor arts fabric prep spray,  paint brushes, an iron and print out of letters. This is what DecoArts sent me to play with – 12 colors of  Ink Effects paint and the Ink Effects Basecoat. These paints can be painted on plain copy paper then transfered onto fabric with an iron. Yes you can make your own iron transfers – cool right?  abc place mat
  2. Start by making an image of letters. I used picmonkey.com but all you need to do is have a print out ( or 2 if your place mat is as big as mine) . Don’t forget the image needs to be printed out as a mirror image of what you want the end product to look like.
  3. Print out and paint the letters. Let dry .
  4. Spray the place mat with the Ink Effects Basecoat and let dry. This basecoat is needed if the material is more than 30% cotton. Mine was 50% cotton so I used a liberal amount.
  5. Place the letters face down on the place mat. Iron.
  6. I really pressed hard and  went over each letter multiple times. NO STEAM. I actually had to call my husband into the room to ask him if the steam was on or not, this was the first time I have used our iron in more than 5 years.
  7. Peel and reveal!
  8. Now you can have your child find letters while you cook, find colors, or even match letters like she is doing here to the letters on the place mat. You can also just have a cute washable place mat!

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Disclosure : I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with DecoArt and Blueprint Social. As always I only work with companies and products professionally that I would recommend personally.
 

Pound & Learn Alphabet – Alphabet For Starters

fine motor and alphabet learningThis simple fine motor and alphabet activity for kids is the 9th post in our Alphabet For Starters series, it’s our series of simple activities to play and introduce the alphabet to little learners.  My son loved this when we did a even simpler version many years ago and still loved it this time. As you will see my daughter liked pushing in the tees a lot more than hammering them and that’s fine.  She played with the letters, got lots of fine motor skill development and most importantly she had fun. Things rarely turn out as you imagined with kids. Roll with it.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some Styrofoam, golf tees , a toy hammer , some markers and some painters tape if you are doing it outside to keep it from blowing away.
  2. Start by writing out the letters. Choose a few or a lot.fine motor activity
  3. Add the tees
  4. Time to hammer! She started off interested in the hammer but …hammering fine motor
  5. Soon she was all about pushing them in with her fingers.
  6. And exploring the styrofoam . I think this is what she liked best!
  7. After her brother came home we dug the pushed in tees out , re set them and let him pound away.

Books

Alfie’s ABC by Shirley Hughes is a sweet alphabetic look at a little boy and his family’s life. The illustrations of the cherubic children are what sells this book and my 2 year old loved them. Alfie has a little sister and my daughter immediately proclaimed that the baby sister was her and the brother was her big brother. The letters are presented with both upper and lowercase and are prominent enough that for children unable to sit for all the text to simply thumb through and explore letters.

Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray is a really cute alphabet book and story about a dog and an apple pie. You can imagine what the dog wants to do with the apple pie. The way the author / illustrator weaves an alphabet book out of a simple story about a dog wanting to eat a fresh baked pie is awesome. I really like this book for 4 and 5 year olds because there are some really great words and they can anticipate what is going to happen. My son loved it. The vintage inspired illustrations were my favorite, I wanted to frame each page.

Gardening For Letters – Alphabet For Starters

alphabet for starters Yesterday the whole family was outside playing and working in the front yard and my daughter ( who is almost 2) was helping me weed. She loved it and after we were done weeding we checked on our carrots that are almost big enough to eat . This all gave me a great idea for an outside sensory filled alphabet activity for our Alphabet For Starters series. What Alphabet for Starters is all about is to play and introduce letters to children just starting to show interest , point them out and recognize them. We try to incorporate other areas of learning into the activities too. Today’s has a strong sensory element and if you want to do this inside you can use a tub and fill it with coffee grounds or rice.

  1. Gather your materials. To make the carrots you will need an orange pool noodle ( a red one could be radishes too!), a permanent marker, some green ribbon , a knife and scissors. For the rest of the activity you will also need some soil and patch of garden if you are doing it outside or a tub and filler for a sensory bin. Pail and shovel are optional .
  2. Start by slicing your pool noodle. Bread knives work the very best but our cheap steak knife was ok too.
  3. Next write letters on the noodles with a permanent marker.  You will notice I did not to 26 letters. If your child is capable of staying engaged the whole time with 26 letters by all means do. At 23 months I am not expecting my daughter to stay that focused, this shouldn’t feel like work to her it should be a fun new experience. letter recognition
  4. Next cut some ribbon and tie it to the noodle as the top of the carrot.alphabet letters
  5. Head outside and plant them. letter recognition All ready for my little carrot farmer!
  6. Time for a letter harvest. As they picked them we looked for the letter on each carrot.letter game for kids
  7. She was also counting as we went , perhaps it’s time for a math for starters series ?
  8. After filling up the bucket we found a few of our favorites ( R and O ) and then picked some real veggies.outside activities for kids

Books About Vegetables

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.

The Carrot Seed by Ruth Krauss is a rare gem, it has been in print for over 60 years and has delighted generations . If you aren’t familiar with the story, a little boy plants a carrot seed and everyone tells him “It won’t come up.” this doesn’t stop the little boy from patiently taking care of this little seed, that eventually grows into a giant carrot. The message is a universal one of sticking to your guns even when everyone tells you you should give up. My son loved the story the simple pictures that will bring you back to your own childhood, at least they did for me. A true classic.

Coco The Carrot by Steven Salerno is an absurd tale of adventure, and I loved it. Coco is a carrot who dreams of a life larger than the vegetable drawer . She dreams big and goes for it. Unlike most carrots that end up in stew she becomes a famous hat designer and is the toast of Paris with her Monkey companion Anton. If you are scratching your head but oddly intrigued you will like this book. It was long but my son sat with me giggling and telling me ” Carrots can’t do that?!” more than once. I loved it because it is so absurd that she is a carrot, but the story itself is about going for your dreams, hitting bumps in the road and realizing that your dreams shift and change and that’s OK.  There is great bits of humor for the adults as well, something I always appreciate!

Build With Letters – Alphabet For Starters

jumbo cardboard blocks The  goal for our Alphabet For Starters series is to give you ways to  introduce letters to your children through all sorts of play. This activity the 7th post in our series pairs gross motor play with letter recognition perfectly! Don’t forget that the number one thing you can do to teach your children about letters is to read to them so after the activity we’ve included some of our favorite books and if you are looking for alphabet books for kids we have 50 Alphabet Books too!

  1.  Gather your materials. You will need some big blocks like these from Melissa & Doug ( cardboard boxes will work just great too ) ,scissors,  painters tape if you don’t want to alter your blocks forever or a sharpie if you do.
  2. Using the tape make letters on the blocks. I did this obviously but she wanted to help , it was tricky…
  3. So she got in the bin and supervised while I made a bunch of letters that she suggested and I popped in a few others too.
  4. Then my son came to help too. He wanted the O to be on a blue so he suggested making the o I’d already made into a Q. I was all for it.
  5. We didn’t make every letter because they were super eager to play. But don’t feel like you have to do every letter. If you think 26 letters will overwhelm then focus on s few that your child knows well and a few that they have yet to recognize so you balance challenge with success.
  6. BUILD!  The most fascinating thing was that every time she grabbed a block she’d recognize and say the letter without prompting. As we built I would sometimes say ” Should we put the W on top?” or ” Grab the T and I’ll put it here.” We were playing with letters without testing or drilling and while we were building someone decided to start spelling too.
  7. Knock it down and build another.

Last night I had to make more letters because my son was begging to spell all sorts of words. I was excited to see him sit down and sound out words first before asking me if it was right .  I absolutely love that they both have enjoyed such an easy to make activity using their favorite blocks.

Our Bedtime Books

Baby Giggles (Beautiful Babies) by Rachael Hale is a simple board book that my daughter adores. She can’t go to bed without reading it and saying goodnight to the babies. Now something about my daughter is that she is baby obsessed which is why this book was bought for her in the first place, it’s page after page of all sorts of babies. The text is simple and rhymes but isn’t anything to be wowed by. The photos are adorable and even after a million readings she giggles at the baby picking her nose and kisses the sleeping babies at the end of the book goodnight. Definitely a favorite at our house even if it will never be a classic.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. is another book that can go with a baby from infancy through toddlerhood and into the preschool years. The bold colors of the illustrations by Eric Carle are perfect for catching infant’s attention and will continue to grab it through the years. My son enjoyed this book and loves reading it to his sister now but she absolutely adores this book.  We have read it every night before nap and bed for a few weeks and I think it’s going to be a bedtime favorite for a while. I also completely credit this book for teaching her some of her colors. It’s a great bedtime book because of the even rhythm and predictability that is calming and great to wind down to. There are other titles in the series , including ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? , and Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? but this one is my and my daughter’s very favorite!

Alphabet For Starters – Magic Letters

abc activities for kids

Crayon resist painting is a classic children’s art project and this is how we turned it into an alphabet activity. Our spin on the classic crayon resist is a fun way to learn letters by magically making them appear when painting the paper. We may know it’s not magic but I dare you to tell a squealing toddler that its not. To them it’s alphabet magic. This is the 6th installment of our Alphabet For Starters series, posts dedicated to introducing and playing with letters for beginners.

  1. Gather your materials, you will need some water colors, water, a paint brush, white paper, white crayons and scissors.
  2. Start by cutting plain paper in half. I found that making them a medium size was just the right size for her to paint and not lose the excitement of discovery.
  3. Write letters in upper or lowercase in white crayon. I went over the lines a few times to make them nice and thick. Do not try to do every letter in one sitting, it will take a fun activity and make it daunting for many kids. Instead have the materials on hand to make more in a jiffy if they are super into it. My daughter kept asking for the letter R so we made a few of those.
  4. Mix the paint. Now The best paint is watery so it beads off the crayon easily. I mixed the paint brush in water color and riced it in the water a few times then used the water as the paint.
  5. I am often asked what my kids do while I prep or if I prep the night before ( you overestimate my competency if that’s what you think) – no I set something out for her to play with like these instruments and then invite her to play when ready.
  6. Time to Paint. She was not sure at first.
  7. “What is it ?” ” A!” alphabet for starters
  8. Let’s do more!
  9. O! She had fun and later while playing in the playroom she sat at the table and re-did the activity with a dry brush and the dried paintings. A sure sign that it was a hit.