Letter of the week
Train & Tracks t !
I am blessed to have wonderful creative readers and this post comes from Stephanie at The Helping Mommy. I loved the simplicity of this craft , but the learning potential is big. Trains and tracks are both wonderful t words that even the youngest letter of the week artist can relate to.
Train tables, train rugs, tracks on the floor….most kids will play trains anywhere that there is a hard surface. With this project, you can teach about lowercase t while helping your kiddo make a new and interesting surface to run his or her trains on.
- We cut the “t” shape out of brown construction paper.
- Pasted it onto regular white copy paper.
- We drew racks with crayons and extended the tracks out to the edge of the page.
- My son plastered train stickers on the tracks. ( remember peeling those stickers are an all important fine motor skill too!)
We wanted to preserve the “t” look as much as possible for this project, but feel free to add grass, trees, cows or any other embellishments that you can think of. Somehow we were completely out of Thomas the Tank stickers, otherwise those would have been on there too.
Thomas and the Shooting Star by W.Audry
My son is a BIG Thomas the Tank Engine fan, though I’ll have to admit that not all of the books pass muster in my opinion. Thomas and the Shooting Star is one of the cuter Thomas books that talks about how Thomas struggles to fall asleep. Gordon tells Thomas the tale about how shooting stars go around helping engines fall asleep. Follow Thomas on this nighttime adventure as he follows the shooting star and chases sleep.
Freight Train Big Book by Donald Crewes
Donald Crews’ Freight Train is a classic book. It is rather simplistic in nature, but it is good for the younger train fans as it talks about the different kinds of freight cars and teaches about colors.
Chugga Chugga Choo Chooby Kevin Lewis
Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo is a sweet book that takes a train-trip through a little boy’s room. This book reminds me of my boy because he used to literally play with trains ALL day long. The pictures in this book are jut adorable, too!
Tracks by David Galef and Tedd Arnold is a hilarious book about a man named Arnold who is in charge of directing the crew who lays down the train tracks. Arnold’s glasses break, and his vision becomes a bit skewed. What will the mayor think of this wacky track? You’ve got to read it and find out!
Stephanie Dakin is a mommy to a 1-year-old and a 4-year-old. She enjoy helping other parents by sharing some of the insight that she’s gained ‘deep in the trenches’ of parenting. You can find her at The Helping Mommy . She is currently participating in a blog internship and also writing at Crafts for Kidlets.
We have been chatting about lowercase ls a lot around here lately because my son recently gained a new sight word FIRE (it’s always all in caps on extinguishers, fire doors etc..) – and the uppercase i throws him off sometimes. So we had a brief discussion about fonts ( using your computer to show all the silly different ways to make the same letter is a great way to play with that idea), and decided since we were talking so much about this letter we’d use it for this week’s craft.
- Gather your materials. You will need a full sheet of blue construction paper, some white, yellow and red as well. Glue, blue markers , scissors and sea life stickers.
- Write a lowercase l on some white paper.
- Start by having your child draw waves on the paper. I was so surprised that this was my son’s favorite part, he was so into it, carefully drawing squiggly lines.
- Next add sea life to the ocean. This is not a must do step but I think it’s important to reinforce some learning about the sea. We took time to talk about the different animals on the stickers ( crabs, sea horses, fish and starfish) and peeling those little stickers off is great fine motor practice.
- While they are working on their ocean, cut out the red roof and yellow ray of light.
- Hand them the lowercase l, ask them what letter it is, sounds it makes and why you are making it into a lighthouse.
- My son insisted on making red stripes on it , so I grabbed him a crayon. ( Mental note where is my red marker?? Can’t find it anywhere.)
- Cut the l out.
- Add glue to your ocean
- Add your lighthouse, my son’s was way to the right only because he didn’t want to cover any of his stickers. Place yours wherever as long as it’s vertical .
- Add the roof
- Add the ray of light and let dry.
Over the Irish Sea
When I was 1 I sucked my thumb
and then I went to sea
I climbed aboard a pirate ship
and the captain said to me
“Let’s go this way , and that way.
backwards and forwards,
over the Irish sea!”
* Continue counting with rhyming words like 2 and shoe, 3 and knee etc
Books About The Sea!
Stanley at Sea by Linda Bailey made me giggle . The story is about 4 dogs that go out to sea unintentionally when they are searching for food. While out there they start wondering when outside will end because the sea is so wide and they are so far from land. One dog suggest that outside will end when then hit a fence. Sure enough they hit what they think is a fence, what readers know is a tanker and are rescued and fed steak and sausages they can eat before being returned to their owners. Doggie nirvana for sure. I love that the book is presented through the dog’s perspective, it gives young kids a chance to laugh and correct the dogs ideas about the things they encounter.
My Very Own Lighthouse by Francisco Cunha is a book about what it’s like to watch a parent go out to sea while you wait at home for their safe return. The little girl in this book is worried about her dad who is a fisherman so her mom explains to her why there are lighthouses. She decides to make her very own so that she can keep her daddy safe. I love the authors deep understanding of childhood anxiety, and how he has her gain some control by making her very own lighthouse with toys and a star. It’s not realism ( using a star as the light) , but any child will relate to the shift in power from being afraid and having nightmares to feeling as though she is actively helping keep her dad safe.
A Sea-Wishing Day by Robert Heidbreder is a wonderful tale of adventure, pirates, mermaids and treasure! The best part the little boy and his canine companion never really leave his backyard in the city , instead the adventure is all in their imagination. Anyone with a preschooler will appreciate this book, playing pretend is a huge part of most 3-5 year old’s playtime, and it should be. This book encourages, as well as celebrates that as this little boy discovers adventures on the high sea.
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I often get asked how and when to start doing letter crafts. My best advice is to start when your child starts paying attention to letters, pointing them out and enjoying alphabet books and toys. The other question that normally follows that is which letter to start with? I suggest starting with a letter they are confident recognizing, and a theme they enjoy. This is why this family letter craft is so fun and perfect for beginners. Kids are narcissistic and crafts with their own smiling faces are often sure fire hits! This uses your child’s initial as the letter of the week, my son decided we should also make M for mommy and D for daddy. We used lowercase because that is what we are working on but either upper or lower would be fine!
- Gather your materials. You will need pictures of your child and whoever else you are making into letters, a sheet of construction paper for each letter, and one for the backing, scissors, glue , a marker and crayons.
- Start by writing the letter on the construction paper.
- Color the letter with crayons. We did this as a family so Daddy came and made his too !
- While they color cut out the pictures.
- While you cuts the letters out your child and husband can play puppets with their picture cut outs !
- Add glue to your cut out letter and glue it to the backing.
- Add glue to the front of the letter- we did a little counting here , first counting the picture cut outs and then adding that number of glue globs to the letter.
- Add the picture cut outs.
- Let dry.
I have many alphabet book reviews here but these three are my 3 favorites for beginners.
Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming is a wonderful example of what an alphabet book should be. Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers learning their first letters, the text is short , the letters are front and center and the illustrations are fun and interesting. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too! Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but this my 19 month old will sit through Z every time!
Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is a fantastic board book and shorter version of the longer book. My son loves this book and it’s the perfect amount of text for a toddler, the illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even very young babies will respond to it! A must have for all bookshelves.
Baby’s Alphabetby Jean Marzollo will appeal to your baby and toddler, we were given it as a gift and my son has loved it since about 9 months on. The photographs of other babies will keep your little one interested and you will be surprised how soon they will anticipate the next page, I know I was. Sadly our copy is now flying the friendly skies , we took it on a flight with us last week and forgot it. Hopefully someone with a baby finds it !
Road r !
Using words that are easily recognizable, and readily used by your child for letter recognition activities is important. Most all children can identify a road and what goes on it from very very young, so it’s a great choice! Add in a child who loves anything that drives and you have a huge hit! Also finding vehicle stickers is dead easy, they are every where. My son loved this craft, when he woke from nap he skipped his usual snuggles and went straight for the table where I had the craft ready.
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 pieces of construction paper ( one should be black) , vehicle stickers, scissors , glue and white or yellow chalk.
- Start by writing a large lowercase ( or upper) r on your green construction paper. If your child wants to decorate this go for it, it will mostly be covered by the road but if they are game , do it!
- Cut 3 rectangles out of the black paper. I included kid scissors in my picture because I was hoping my son would want to do some of the cutting but he just wanted to hurry to the stickers! If your child is able, encourage them to do some or all of the cutting.
- Have your child use the chalk to make road markings.
- Add glue to the r
- Add the road.
- Time for stickers! Not only does this add extra fun since for many kids stickers are treats ( I know I use them as treats for all sorts of things) but it also adds great fine motor practice. When they carefully peel the stickers off they are using those fine motor skills, so do not do this step for them!
- Let dry completely then show it off !
Sputter, Sputter, Sput! by Babs Bell is all about a little car that zooms… until it starts to sputter! What could be causing that? It’s out of gas! The story is simple but the illustrations take it from basic story to a quirky and fun book. The concept of up and down is reinforced multiple times but with fresh and fun illustrations by Bob Staake each time. My son enjoyed this book but it was a quick read , I think it would have been a favorite a year ago though , it was a little simple for him now at 3 1/2. It’s definitely worth a look to see the illustrations !
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 .
I’m a Truck by Dennis Shealy is about Big Blue Bill a big rig on his way from the Big Tuna to the Big Apple! As he travels along the highway, stops at trucks stops and runs into road construction he visits with his truck friends. Most every type of truck is covered in this book and the illustrations by Bob Staake ( yes the same as above!) are so detailed that you can spend extra time just finding things on each page. All the trucks are anthropomorphized and some hilariously so. I am quite fond of a logging truck named Leif who had a beard and toque ( winter cap for non Canadians ) , he makes me giggle. My son loves the part where Big Blue Bill is stuck in city traffic behind a garbage truck who is stinky! The text is a good length and I have a feeling this will be a favorite for a while at our house.
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Y is always tricky but this craft does double duty not only reinforcing the letter y, but also as a active fine motor skills lacing toy! As you can see I wasn’t fussy about how my son laced it. I wanted him to get the yarn through the holes not make perfect stitches. Holding the yarn in between his thumb and fingers also promotes the tripod grip ( proper way to hold writing tools).
- Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, a hole punch, some markers, yarn, scissors and tape.
- Write a lowercase ( would work great with uppercase too ) on your cardboard.
- Hand it to your child and invite them to color it with markers. My son has taken to tracing and writing the letter on it.
- Add more colors until they decide they are done.
- While they are coloring cut off a long piece of yarn and double it, so it make a bog loop. Tape the 2 ends together tightly so that it makes a hard end for easy lacing.
- Cut the y out.
- Hole punch time! Our card board was too thick for my son to punch the holes, if the cereal box in the picture hasn’t had writing on the inside ( why do they do that?!) it would have been great. If your child can help , have them help.
- Before you hand the y back thread the yarn through the first hole and loop it back through the yarn so it ties onto the y. This eliminates meltdowns about the yarn just zooming through all the holes. As well as keeps the 2 pieces together for later use!
- Lace! I laced the first two holes to demonstrate it to my son then let him at it.
- Keep going!
Teaching children about letters is more fun if you include as many novel and sensory experiences as you can. This was a huge hit and even bigger mess, but well worth it. My son who is in the midst of a perfectionist phase loved that he could “erase” his letters. He also loved how the bright colors magically appeared under the cornstarch.
- Gather your materials. You will need a shallow cardboard box, cornstarch, and some brightly colored markers, pastels or what I used… window markers.
- Color the bottom of your box with a few colors. If you are using anything “wet” let it dry 100% before adding the cornstarch.
- Add the cornstarch and cover the color.
- Start writing! Isn’t it cool how the colors pop? I was giddy that it worked!
- He wrote an M then exclaimed – look I can make a W too, then flipped the whole box , then wrote another M.
- We stepped outside to shake all the extra off!
Have fun this one is MESSY – I was covered, my camera was covered, my son was covered and we had a blast!
Some of our Favorite Alphabet Books