Dollar Store Salt Tray { Alphabet Activity }

learn to write Writing letters in salt or sand is a classic Montessori activity. They give children a sensory experience while also learning how to form letters. What I have always loved about salt trays is that if a child doesn’t like how their letter turned out they can gently shake it and start again. These items were all bought at the dollar store . You could easily make 4 salt trays for $4 with the supplies listed. Exploring letters in all different ways lets kids experience them and make meaningful connections. Do not worry about how perfect the letters are at this stage, let them explore them and get used to the different kinds of lines and curves that go into them all. This post is part of our Alphabet for Starters series , a series of posts that aim to make learning the alphabet fun and creative instead of full of rote memorization. See more from that series here.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sentence strips, a sharpie, scissors, salt, and a pie plate( came in a pack of 4). You could also use a cookie sheet, shoe box lid or casserole dish. dollar store salt tray
  2. Cut the sentence strips into smaller cards. You could also use flash cards but as you might guess I don’t have any on hand .dollarstore salt tray alphabet activity
  3. Write out letters with the sharpie. You can write uppercase, lowercase, or a mix like I did. Go at whatever pace your child is at but don’t forget to put in a few challenges. For beginners stick with straight line letters like L , T, H  and the completely curves ones like C and O they have always been easier in my experience that when you mix the two together. We want kids at this age to have some initial success before we challenge them so that their confidence helps carry them through the harder bits. dollar store alphabet activity
  4. Pour in the salt. My daughter LOVED this so much we did it many times over…. and my porch still has salt on it. salt tray activity
  5. Stack the cards and start writing.dollar store learning letters with a salt tray My daughter who turned 3 in June had a touch time with some of the letters but when I explained to her she could shake and try again she perked up. alphabet activities for preschool In one sitting she did 6 letters. Do not expect to go through the whole alphabet especially with a 3 year old or an older child new to this activity. learning to form letters with a salt tray

z

Alphabet Books

f

z is for moose

Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham is a hilarious alphabet book that will have you and your child giggling throughout. The books is all about a zebra who is making an alphabet book and his over zealous friend Moose who is very very excited to be involved. So excited in fact that he can’t wait for M to be called and ends up crashing a bunch of other letters. When M does come he’s been replaced by a mouse. Moose’s reaction will turn your kids giggles into chuckles and all the while they will be working on letter recognition. Love this book!

Sleepy ABC

Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown . Although I have a legendary hatred of Runaway Bunny I generally love this author. I like this book, and the illustrations will zip you back in time for sure.  Unlike many alphabet books it has a great rhythm for reading it all without breaks.  My one complaint is that the child is tucked into bed then a few letters later is out listening to a story from another woman not their mom. I am not sure perhaps those are different children, didn’t bug my son one bit, but left me wondering. Like the title suggests it’s a good alphabet book for a bedtime read, it even ends with something I say often ” Go To Sleep!”.

Alphabet Under Construction

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. {This review is from when my son was 19 months old in 2008. His love of this book was really a jumping off point for his love of letters in general. I wish I could say I taught him his letters but really reading this one particular book over and over at his request probably did the trick. }

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Sight Word Game

sight word gross motor game for kids

It’s been beautiful here and I wanted to get outside for a little learning. This gross motor sight word game is fun and was a cinch to adapt to very different ability levels. My son worked on sight words and my daughter on letter recognition. When we played this the first time my kids were not very into it. It was almost dinner, we’d been busy all week , and it was just bad timing. A few days later we played again and it was a huge hit! Smiles, words being yelled out , letters flying into the pretend recycle bin… so I thought my reminder to myself would be a good reminder for you too. Timing is everything and don’t give up if an activity flops. Give it one more try before giving it the ax.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some ping pong balls, a container, sharpies ,and some painter’s tape if you want to turn your container into a recycle bin like we did. sight word game for kindergarten
  2. Start by writing out sight words and/or letters for your child on the ping pong balls. A quick google search will provide leveled sight word lists for your child.sight word gross motor game
  3. Add the recycle sign on your container.sight words recycle game
  4. We went outside and I pretended to be a litter bug throwing recycling ( the ping pong balls) all over our yard. I really spread them out. The rule was that they had to call out the word/letter before running it back to the bin to clean up the yard.sight word recycling activity
  5. Off they went!  sight word and letter gameThey played well but the next time we played it was all giggles and rushing – you can tell in this picture that my son was tired . He hoarded as many balls as he could then ran up to the bin read them all to me and ran back to get another handful. sight word game readingThe next time he’d find one, run it over and run to the next.  My daughter was overwhelmed with how spread out I made it. The 2nd time we played I kept them in a much smaller space which made a huge difference for her.sight word game for kindergarten and preschool

Books About Recycling For Kids

plasticbottle

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is awesome!  The book takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil, to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor too. I think most 5 year olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text.

why do we recycle

Little Pirate: Why Do We Recycle?  by Innovative Kids is a really fun book about recycling with a pirate theme. Yes a pirate theme. Readers learn about recycling, composting and garbage along with two young pirates who need to clean up their ship. The pirates ask questions about different waste and the wise parrot fills them into the facts like the best bag to use while shopping is a cloth one, and what happens to the metal, glass and paper after we put them in the recycle bin.

Gabby and Grandma go green

Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellington is another wonderful book from one of our favorite authors. In the book Gabby and her Grandma spend a day together  dedicated to going green. First making a great reusable bag and then using it all around town. I love that they go to the library and that is portrayed as a way to go green as well as a place to learn more about environmental efforts. Also showing ways to make a difference at the grocery store is perfect for young kids who are often tagging a long with parents on these errands. I can’t end the review without also mentioning the baby sibling who is sleeping in a sling at the end of the book , I love seeing baby wearing in books!  This is a great environment themed book that works all year round not just for Earth Day.

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Letter Of The Week Q – Activities & Crafts

Letter Of The Week Letter Q Activities and craftsLetter of The Week has been one of our most popular series ever on No Time For Flash Cards and even though I have taken a different approach with my daughter ( her preschool will be doing Letter Of The Week ) I still get requests for these themed letter round ups.  If you are doing a letter of the week system with your child please remember to balance the showcased letter with many whole alphabet activities. while giving a little extra love to one letter is a fun way to introduce it we must remember that letters work together and learning in context and in a memorable way is the best option for young kids. So choose a few fun activities with the letter Q but fit them into a week of whole alphabet learning.

Letter of the week quilt q

Letter Q Crafts 

Quinoa Q    –   Quilt Q   –   Queen Q 

shape craft princess

Crafts The Start With Q 

Family Photo Quilt  – Q-Tip Dandelion  –  Q-Tip Easter Egg Painting –  Q-Tip Painted TreeShape Queen

how to make a letter rubbing board

Whole Alphabet Activities 

Alphabet Flower GardenAlphabet PlaydoughEasy Letter Board RubbingsLetter Constellations

Letter Watermelons { Summer Alphabet Craft }

alphabet for starters Quick and easy crafts seem to be our thing right now because free play in our yard , reading under our maple tree ,and drenching each other in water fights is occupying most of our time. It’s summer and we are soaking it all in. That said I still want to do some fun summer themed learning activities and this one fits the bill. This is part of our Alphabet For Starters series that exposes children to letters through fun and creative activities instead of drill and flashcards. You can see all the posts in the series here.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some black letter stickers, pink and green crayons, scissors and paper plates. letter waternelons
  2. Start by coloring a full plate pink in the middle and green on the edges.watermelon alphabet craft Paint would give you better coverage but this is a fast craft so we used crayons. Coloring on the edge was a really fun sensory experience. It’s bumpy and makes a fun sound. watermelon letter craft for children
  3. Cut in half. watermelon craft
  4. Add the seeds! In this case the seeds are alphabet stickers but you could do numbers too. watermelon lettersMy son did numbers water melonwhile my daughter did random letters on one and her name on another.  letter watermelon abcOlder kids could spell words too. Something you will likely notice with a young child still discovering letter is that they will naturally name each letter and or ask you to name it as they apply it to their watermelon. I love that. You don’t have to drill them because they are exploring on their own.I was about to write let dry but since we used crayons there is no drying time at all. Perfect quick summer themed craft with just a short burst of letter recognition. watermelon letter craft for kids

{ Alphabet Activity } Letter Constellations

constellation coverThis simple alphabet activity is a snap to put together and combines fine motor development and letter recognition . I did this with my daughter who just turned 3 , older children could be encouraged to not only add the stars but to also write the letters or whole words. This is part of our Alphabet For Starters series of posts that aim to introduce and play with letters in a fun creative way without pressure. Children learn best when they are free to explore and make positive connections with material and these activities aim to do that .  You can see our other posts here.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some black construction paper , chalk in various colors ( although just white would be a OK ), some star stickers and scissors. letter constellations alphabet activity
  2. Start by cutting your paper into smaller pieces. Write letters on the paper using the chalk. You can do this dry or wet for a more vibrant color.  I made a handful of letters , some my daughter is very familiar with ( letters in her name) some she doesn’t see as often. letter constellation craft for kids
  3. Present all the letters and stickers to your child. Explain what a constellation is and that you’d be making them with letters. The way I explained it to my daughter was that they are shapes and drawings made when you connect the stars in the sky with pretend lines. I didn’t go into it any deeper than that for her but with an older child you absolutely could.
  4. Add the stars. letter constellation fine motor activityFor her age just peeling them off was hard work as was carefully placing them on the letter.letter constellations alphabet for starters Encourage and praise but make sure it’s not empty. I naturally say “Good job” a lot and have been trying to use more specific praise instead. Saying things like ” You worked hard to get that sticker off. ” is much more beneficial than an empty ” Good job!” letter constelations
  5. She happily made 3 letters and I didn’t push her to make more. Instead I placed them together with the stickers on a tray and made sure they were accessible for her to make more when she chose to.  letter constellation craft for kids learning abcs

Space Themed Alphabet Book

A is For Astronaut

A Is for Astronaut: Exploring Space from A to Z by Traci N. Todd is a typical themed alphabet book that is atypically funky. The vintage illustrations and historical photos from NASA makes this book stand out from other similar books. Each letter represents a number of space related items and the historical photos are so powerful in this because it bridges the gap from being a story to being information that children are eager to dive into further. There is something so powerful about a photograph to make that connection that this really happened, these guys really walked on the moon in ” the olden days” as my son calls any time before his birth in 2006.

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