Letter Tracing – Write and Trace Place Mats

letter tracing preschool

My son has been asking how to spell things for some time, but now he wants to know how to write them too. Problem is he’s not proficient in writing yet but refuses to let me help. So instead of the whole process ending in frustrated tears we made these letter tracing place mats. So easy to make and for the same price as one pre made place mat you can buy a whole roll of contact paper and make a bunch. Remember only to use washable markers on them and you will be set!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need contact paper, a marker , some paper towels, stickers, and scissors.
  2. Start by writing out the words or letters for the mat.  Make sure the marker you use doesn’t bleed. I used paper towels because they are a perfect size for a place mat. Paper will work just fine.
  3. Add your stickers. My son wanted a fire truck themed one and I made an alphabet mat for him as well. We chose uppercase but there is no rule that you have to do uppercase.
  4. Cut your contact paper so you sandwich the place mat in it. Place the place mat face down to help avoid bubbles.
  5. Smooth and trim the edges.
  6. Start writing!  This was a huge hit with my son and the place mat can double as a mat for play dough, art and eating too!

Letter Crafts

I have been asked about the return of our ever popular Letter of The Week craft that was published most Mondays. It will be returning next month until then browse our uppercase and lowercase crafts or for an easy alphabetically organized collection and 5 exclusive (never been or  to be published on the blog) crafts check out my Alphabet Crafts eBook!

Color Wheel Match!

by Kim

Allie did a color matching activity very similar to this one over a year ago, but I recently this variation at a daycare when I went to pick up my friend’s child. I had to make it as the perfect multi-level learning activity for my home.

All you will need are clothespins, paint, marker, scissors, and posterboard.

I traced an upside down large mixing bowl to get my big circle. Then I sectioned it into 8 pieces, but you can do as many as you like. I painted each section a different color.

As I painted the sections I made sure that I painted a clothespin for each color as well. You will see two of each in the photo because I made two sets (and then had to make a third).

I wrote the names of each color in the section. I also wrote the names of each color on the clothespins.

I gave the kids the circles with the clothespins already attached to the appropriate sections. I asked them to pull off all of the clothespins and put them in a pile. They loved pulling them off, maybe a little too much.

Then I told them to match the clothespins to the colors on the wheel. I demonstrated one match up to really show them, too. After all I was dealing with 2 two year olds. My daughter started right at it.

This activity is great for matching, learning colors, and motor skills. Our foster child has trouble doing the pincher hold, so this activity was more for him to work on motor skills and hand-eye coordination (not so much on color matching). Oh, and it is working. He is getting better every time we play this activity. Eve his therapists have noticed a big difference. We will get the color matching down, one day. ;-)

My daughter is learning to match and get more familiar with her colors. But it doesn’t hurt to build those motor skills, either.

This activity is requested constantly at my house. The littler ones have so much fun playing with it that I had to make one for my four year old son, too. I am hoping we will have our colors down as sight words. We should as much as we play this.

So there you have it, an activity that can be done by different ages and developmental stages (including special needs). Here is my daughter so proud of her completion. I know that you can’t tell from the picture, but she is very happy and proud.

Apple Orchard Craft

When my son read this book we started learning about apple orchards and the idea for this craft was born. My son is much more into digging in our backyard and building with legos than art these days but I knew I could entice him to create if it involved food coloring and medicine droppers… and I was right! He even asked his dad to take it to work and put it up in his office he was so proud of it.   There are a lot of steps for little guys in this craft but you can omit some easily and still make a fun apple tree!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need coffee filters, red and green food coloring, 2 eye or medicine droppers, ice cube tray, construction paper, markers, scissors, glue and popsicle sticks. You may also want to use a cutting board and some paper towels under the coffee filters to protect your work surface.
  2. Start by handing your child the construction paper and markers – have them draw the orchard , but make sure they know you will be gluing trees on top. We don’t want any meltdowns over covering their picture.
  3. Next layer the paper towels under the coffee filters.
  4. Pour the food coloring into your tray – I watered down the green but not the red.
  5. Start with the green food coloring on the coffee filters.
  6. Next add red. Let dry.
  7. While they are drying ( doesn’t take long in the sun!) have your child color the popsicle sticks with the brown marker.  This is great fine motor skills practice! My son decided to make a single line on each …one of which continued onto my table. Remember to use washable markers and a wet cloth nearby always keeps blood pressure low !
  8. Glue the sticks onto the construction paper.
  9. Cut the filters into tree tops.
  10. Glue on and let dry.

More Apple Books

Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson  was not what I was expecting , it was so much more. I was expecting a basic book about picking apples at an orchard.  This book is anything but basic, it’s dreamy and while reading it I almost felt as thought I was back in time when a whole community would come to a stand still for something like apple picking.  The protagonist is Anna a little girl who works hard in the orchard along side her parents and grandparents . She isn’t as fast as her parents, but with hard work and the support of her family she reaches her goal and fills a bin! I loved this book,  I would suggest it for preschoolers and up.

The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson had me tricked into thinking that it was a new edition of an old book. The retro look to the illustrations hooked me and I was shocked to see it was only published 2 years ago. The reader is taken through all the elements that go into making a pie, not the recipe though. The story works backwards from pie to the apples, the tree, the roots and more . The message is one of interconnectedness and makes me feel equally important and small all at the same time. I think it’s useful to teach how everything in nature is dependent on other elements and can’t work alone. My son enjoyed the illustrations of the sun with a face and the little girl helping her father at every step.

Glue Tracing

letter tracing with glue

This glue tracing activity saved my sanity and worked on my son’s pre-writing skills. My son loves glue and I fell in love with this post over at Play Activities - yesterday while trying to keep my sanity with a newborn who wouldn’t sleep and a 3 year old who only wanted to play soccer… in the living room, I busted it out.  Simple, fun and you can let it dry and use the sheets again. My son really loved it ( thank goodness), oh and it works their fine motor and hand eye coordination too!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper ( heavy is better so the glue won’t seep through if they use a little too much), a marker and glue.Glue Tracing
  2. Start by writing letters , making shapes , numbers or even just designs.Glue Tracing
  3. Hand them the glue and have them trace.Glue TracingGlue Tracing
  4. If it’s too tricky grab some new paper and make the letters larger.
  5. Let dry and trace and feel them with your fingers!Glue Tracing

Shape Bulldozer Craft For Kids

Bulldozer craft for kids

I can’t take full credit for this craft, instead I must admit it’s inspired by an episode of Team Umizoomi ( a show I just love). I like crafts like this because it allows my son to manipulate the shapes , as you will see though his favorite part was the cutting step, it went on forever!  Even if your child isn’t into bulldozers find something they love and see if you can break it down into shapes.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper in 4 colors ( brown, black, yellow and green), some kid scissors, adult scissors, markers or crayons and glue.
  2. Start by drawing a square, rectangle, and crescent on the yellow paper.
  3. Draw circles on the black.
  4. Invite your child to draw a construction site. The older they are the more time they will likely take, don’t fret if they make a scribble or two and declare that they are finished.
  5. Hand them the brown paper and tell them that’s the dirt and they will be making piles so they need to cut it into small pieces. Mine cut. And cut. And cut.
  6. While they cut , cut out the shapes.
  7. Time to glue – woo hoo!
  8. Add your shapes.
  9. Add glue for the cut paper dirt.
  10. Add the dirt too and let dry.

Construction Books !

Machines at Work by Byron Barton is a bold and bright book that is perfect for toddlers who are obsessed with construction vehicles. The text is brief but effective. My son loved this book as an infant ,  at 2 he enjoyed reading it, as well as counting the workers and trucks on each page. Now at almost 4 he will still grab it and read it to his imaginary friend Sammy who ” can’t read yet”.  All in all it’s been well loved over the years !

Road Builders

Road Builders by B.G. Hennessy was a birthday gift for my son in November and he was not interested at first. Maybe because of the plethora of lego that was taking over our house… however it has since become such a favorite he recently “read” it to my sister’s dog. It’s a story all about how a road is built , explaining what the crew does, and how each type of construction vehicle has a different role in building a road.  I like that it explains the process from start to finish, in just the right level of detail for preschoolers.  I also like that there is a female crew member and her participation is seamless .

Construction Countdownby K.C Olson is a counting book that uses backhoes, dump trucks and cement mixers among other things to count. Before I even closed the book my son was signing for more. I read it 4 times since getting it out of the library today. A huge hit here!  <–  That was written in 2008 and now over 2 years later my son still likes this book and has grown with it, now doing the counting all by himself.