Easy Gem Letters – Alphabet Activities

alphabet activity Playing and creating with letters has been a fun way for my children and students over the years to get comfortable with letters, learn their shapes, and spark discussion about letters as we craft. As children color, paint, glue, and handle letters  while doing alphabet activities like this one they are learning. You can do this letter with upper or lowercase letters. I chose uppercase for my daughter because she is very comfortable and familiar with recognizing both and my goal for her is to get comfy with the shapes of the letters for writing. The handwriting program she uses at preschool and will be using in kindergarten next year focuses on uppercase first so we are focusing more on uppercase at this stage, though by no means ignoring the lowercase letters.  Adding jewels, buttons, stickers… is a novel way of personalizing this activity. My daughter adores these gems which made this activity a shoe in from the start. You don’t have to make a name sign but as we make the letters she wanted to make something and I suggested a name sign for a bedroom. She loved that idea.

Gather your materials. You will need some acrylic gems, sticky back foam, permanent double stick tape, scissors, and multiple sheets of card stock if you want to make a sign. alphabet actvity

Start by writing the outlines to the letters on the back of the foam. Don’t forget to make them backwards so when you cut them out they are correct. jeweld alphabet

Cut out. alphabet activity

Add the double stick tape. jeweled letters gemsI find this is way better on foam than glue. Once it’s down if you give it time to sit it will stay on forever. We did this craft before Christmas ( all those Christmas crafts pushed this one to drafts) and not a single gem has fallen off. This is VERY tricky. She did the straight letters and the curves ones I took care of. alphabet activity

Add the gems. This is where the literacy activity can easily morph into counting, patterns, shape recognition, even estimation. How many gems do you think will fit on this letter? Take cues for your kids to decide how much to push just make sure it doesn’t feel like pushing. gem lettersI had put them into pretty little containers to make it easier for her to grab them, but there was no point as she just dumped them on the table to get a better view.  This took a lot of patience and if your child is struggling let the tape settle and really adhere to the foam first before adding the gems. alphabet activity

Let them sit for a while. We used them to spell all sorts of things before settling on her name.

alphabet activity

Arrange them in whatever display you want . I layered a few sheets of card stock with more double stick tape to make the base of the sign.  You could do the same or get a cheap canvas and add them to that. callie gem letters

Peel the back of the foam off and stick onto the card stock. gem letters alphabet

Find the perfect place for it and hang it up. Like I said we made this before Christmas and since we hung it up she traces it every night before we turn the light off. It’s a sweet reminder of how proud she is of making it as well as just a good literacy activity. alphabet activity

 

Our Favorite Fine Motor Activities of 2014

fine motor activities

I try to work in activities with some element of fine motor work every day. It’s not hard when you have a child who loves to draw and color but when you don’t you might need to get a little more crafty. Fine motor work is important for many daily activities like writing, tying shoes, and eventually typing too. In the short term it’s also important for getting dressed and other tasks that help kids feel independent. What I am trying to say is that these skills are important so working on developing and fine tuning them is worth your time.

Here are the posts that we think are the very best fine motor activities of 2014.

cutting station

This is one of our most popular posts of 2014 and for good reason, it’s easy to do, fun , and functional. My daughter’s been using our Cutting Station for months and it’s found a permanent spot in our playroom.

fine motor activities

Simple is important because if an activity is simple parents will do it with their kids and teachers can throw it into a lesson plan no problem. That is why I LOVE this simple idea from Sugar Aunts.  Check out their Feather Beading here.

fine motor activities

Our Halloween Lego Challenge was a huge hit. You may not be making vampires and pumpkins for a while but this post can still inspire you to make your own Lego Challenge with any theme.

fine motor activity

Are you seeing a theme with these posts? I love simple activities and this one from Hands On As We Grow is no exception. This easy Fine Motor Activity will keep your kids busy while working on their skills.

lego fine motor

Use your kid’s Duplo for these super fun Lego Fine Motor Activities from Fun At Home With Kids.

fine motor activities

This Sticker Station is another fine motor activity I shared this year that was such a hit with my preschooler that we still use it months later.

fine motor activities

Why not use up those caps you can’t recycle for a little fun fine motor activity? This Plastic Cap Water Play from Fantastic Fun and Learning is a great little idea that kids will love.

fine motor activities

These little Dotted Snowflakes don’t look like much but the highlighters on the foam almost glowed. My daughter was in heaven and carefully dotting them was great practice for writing. She had to carefully hold the highlighters with a proper grip.

fine motor activities

This Zipper Board  from Laughing Kids Learn caught my eye on Pinterest and I added it to my Fine Motor board immediately. Now I am adding it to my favorite posts of 2014!

threading for toddlers

Imagination Tree wrote this lovely tutorial for Toddler Threading & Beading.
fine motor activities
For kids a little older than toddlers they can use twigs and beads to make these rad Fairy Wands! They will be having so much fun they won’t know they are working on some serious fine motor skills.

 

 

Princess Playdough Activity For Kids

sparkle playdoughMy daughter loves princesses and when we were buying leaf cookie cutters for my classroom a few weeks ago she spied this pink crown cookie cutter and HAD to have it. At our house cookie cutters are not really a food item, they are for playdough. When craftprojectideas.com sent us some pearl beads I knew exactly how I could make plain playdough into princess playdough.  My daughter loved this activity and my favorite part was seeing how carefully she placed the beads taking time to really consider what she was doing.

princess playdough invitation to create

Gather your materials. You will need some playdough in your child’s favorite color, some glitter, a crown shaped cookie cutter ( see supply links below tutorial), some fun beads, and if you want a tray to keep everything organized. As you can see this is not homemade playdough but if you want learn how to make your own playdough , I have some great recipes.playdough princess party activity

Start by kneading your playdough colors together if you have multiple colors and/or adding glitter to your playdough. This is great and no where near as messy as you’d think because any spills can easily be picked up with the playdough. Shake it on and knead it in. Kneading playdough is a wonderful exercise to strengthen hands, which will come in handy when learning to write.Princess playdough activity for preschool

When the playdough is ready it’s time to cut some crowns!princess play doh activity

Add some bling.  princess beads in playdoughThe pearl beads were her favorite!princess crown playdough tiara

I played along with her but eventually she asked if she could have my crown to make another one. I obliged.playdough tiaras for princesses

Books About Princesses

great princess picture books

Check out our list of positive princess books here and find something that will make your princess obsessed child happy and something you feel good about reading them all in one book.

 

Quick Link Supply List
This list of supplies from the tutorial above contains affiliate links.
Play-Doh
Silver Glitter
Pink crown cookie cutter
Pearl Princess Beads

Cork Board Spider Web Craft

spider web craft for halloween This spider web craft is not only an adorable addition to your Halloween craft display ( am I the only one with a mantel full of kid made stuff? ) it is also a wonderful activity that develops the pincer grasp , a major part of fine motor skills. By pushing those thumbtacks in, pulling them out, and repositioning them your child will be developing these skills. Wrapping the yarn takes major concentration and I am glad it did. I would watch frustration levels and be there to offer help if needed but my ” I will do it with NONE of your help Mama” 4 year old managed even if she went at it a different way than I would have.

Test our your cork to make sure the thumbtacks are nice and snug and please only use these tacks with children who are absolutely not going to put them in their mouths. They can be very dangerous if swallowed. Always be in arms reach and carefully watching.

Gather your materials. You will need a cork hot plate ( from IKEA), some thumbtacks, yarn, and a plastic spider. spider web craft supplies

Start by pushing in the thumbtacks. spider web craft geoboardWhen I explained the idea to my daughter I said the spider needs a web and that the tacks will make the edges of the web, the yarn will be the threads. She went to town adding tacks. spider web craft for kids fine motor development

Next cut a length of yarn long enough to make a good web, but short enough for a child to handle. Tie it onto a tack. cork board spider web craft

Wrap! spider web yarn art for kidsWhen she started wrapping it was all loosey goosey and I interfered. I didn’t want it to frustrate her when it was all slack. I shouldn’t have stepped in because she had a plan and really it’s NOT my web. I was the only thing frustrating her. Luckily she is almost as subtle about her feelings as I am and told me in no uncertain terms to back off. I did. It’s hard sometimes not to jump in and I find it’s way way easier not to when it’s your students than when it’s your own kid. I know this lesson will pop up in all sorts of arenas over the next dozen or so years. Back off. Got it… I hope.

It took her a minute ( and I stayed quiet letting her be) but she got the hang of wrapping, of how she had to hold the cork still, and wrap the yarn, pulling it tight.

spider web activity

When the web is complete it’s time to add the spider.

 

 

Halloween Lego Challenge

Halloween Lego Challenge for kidsSince we posted our first Lego Challenge for preschoolers my daughter and I have been doing these little challenges a lot. They are simple to put together and she loves them. I decided to kick it up a notch and try a themed challenge. Halloween is just around the corner so I decided to go with a Halloween theme. It took a little bit of trial and error to get the items built , I think they were harder for me than her! I made 4 different challenges and she did 3 first thing in the morning and then the last before we left for preschool. When you child is doing a harder challenge be on hand to help but try to attack it as a team. I find that frustration levels are much lower for us when I say ” This is tricky what do you think we should do next?” vs ” Let ME see if I can help you.”

Gather your materials. You will need some Lego – when I create these little challenges I build both at the same time then dismantle the one I want her to build. I just grabbed all the Lego I could find in our bucket that were the colors I thought I needed.  You may also want a divided tray too.

halloween lego challenge supplies

Make your scary Lego creations! We made a pumpkin, ghost, Frankenstein, and candy corn. I am not including patterns because these are all odds and ends pieces. I just want to INSPIRE you to make your own and present the activity the same way. Halloween Lego Challenge big

After you have made your creations make sure that you have the exact pieces to create another. As I said above I create them at the same time which means I often run upsatirs to dig through my son’s room for more so everything is exactly duplicated.

Present the Lego with one guide and all the pieces to create the matching piece.

halloween Lego challenge for preschool

Challenge accepted!

Halloween Lego challenge for kids

She needed a little help with some of the building but not as much as I thought she would. She is methodical about where she starts and how she builds them up. I know who will be putting together all the IKEA furniture in our house in a few years! I thought the ghost was going to be the hardest but the candy corn was not because of the pattern but because the pieces were small and her four year old fingers had to work extra hard to get those tricky pieces together even though the pattern was simple for her to follow. Halloween Lego challenge for girls and boys

After a quick change for school it was time to make “ghosty”.

LEGO challenge for halloween

When she was done she immediately started taking them all apart so she could make me a challenge. Taking apart Lego is great for building hand strength too so I am all for it!