Cork Board Letters

cork board letter puzzlesOver the summer my son is focusing on play but I am focusing on working on his fine motor skills.  This activity satisfies both .  The best part of these letter puzzles are how adaptable they are. You can make letters, shapes, even spell simple words. You could provide your child with a card next to each group of pegs to let them know what letter it is or leave it as a puzzle for them to figure out like I did to combine fine motor and spacial skills.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a cork board, some pushpins and elastics. Cork Board Letters
  2. Start by stretching two elastics across the board to make 4 distinct areas. peg board letters fine motor skills
  3. Using the push pins I created 4 letters. pegboard letters for kidsI wanted to make sure that they could be made into letters so created them myself. Then removed the elastics and called my son. cork board letters kids literacy activity
  4. He dove right in.peg board letters five motor development The A was easy but the B was tricky.peg board fine motor and letter recognition in one It took a while for him to see that it was a B but once he did he couldn’t make the B fast enough.  alphabet letters
  5. I took all the pegs out ( adults only if you aren’t careful the elastics can pull the pegs out and they go flying) and reconfigured them into 4 new letters.  These were easier and he flew through them but he was still getting lots of opportunity to fine tune his fine motor skills. cork board letters

Advanced Alphabet Books

These books aren’t your basic alphabet book. They offer challenges that will appeal to school age children but could still be shared with kids 5 and under.

animalia by Greame Base

Animalia by Graeme Base is iconic in teaching circles, you can loose yourself for hours in the detailed illustrations. The book is an alphabet book on steroids! Each page had a wonderful paragraph in each letter such as for the letter L ” Lazy Lions lounging in the local library.” The pages are filled to the gills with pictures of things that start with that letter as well. Parents and kids a like will fall in love.

all aboard

All Aboard!: A Traveling Alphabet by Bill Mayer was more fun for my husband and I than for my son when he was a toddler, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s a book of pictures, with hidden letters in them. For example the letter O is overpass with loops of road and hidden in it is an O. Some letters were easy to find some were hilariously hard. We read this to my son tonight at bedtime and while we stared at the letter H ( highway) picture debating where the h was, he fell asleep between us in his bed. This is a great alphabet book for families with children just learning and those who have mastered the alphabet. Oh and the debate was settled , we were both wrong. The final page highlights the letter in each picture in a compilation of the whole alphabet.

Al Pha's Bet

Al Pha’s Bet by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a rare find. An alphabet book that can keep a 5 year old who says alphabet books are for babies, completely engaged. The story follows Al who has bet himself that he can win a contest ordered by the King figure out an order for the brand new 26 letters that were just invented. In a string of adorable events and a little chance the alphabet as we know it is put together. My son thought it was hysterical that P was put in the line up after Al went pee. It’s a cute idea for a book and abstract enough to be a bit of a challenge for preschoolers but just the right level of interest for kids that think they know it all when it comes to the alphabet.

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Easy Letter Rubbings Board

how to make a letter rubbing boardI love re-using household items for learning activities and I had the glue gun out for something else when inspiration struck. My daughter loved the magic letters activity we did months ago and I wanted to create another easy alphabet activity that had an element of surprise. This easy to make board was perfect. You and I may not be surprised by the letters appearing on the paper but for someone just shy of 3 years old this was a super cool activity. The letter rubbings she made are a simple craft  but memorable. This is part of our Alphabet For Starters series which is a series of activities that let your children play and discover letters.

  1. Gather your materials. To make the letter rubbing board you will need a cutting board ( I used our old playdough board) , some hot glue, and a glue gun. To make the rubbings you will also need some paper and crayons. You may also want some clips to keep the paper in place while rubbing. letter rubbing board
  2. Heat up your glue gun and write letters on the board with it . I did uppercase but you can do lowercase or a mix, whatever you want. alphabet activity
  3. If you make a mistake just wait until it’s cooled and using a butter knife you can pry it off. Let cool. DIY Letter Rubbing Board for kids
  4. My daughter explored the letters once they were cool. diy letter board rubbing letter tracing
  5. Invite your helper to come and peel some crayon wrappers off. It’s great fine motor skill practice and to tell you the truth my most hated task. Do any of you know if they have unwrapped crayons? I would pay extra for those!  { Um well yes there are unwrapped crayons and our friends at Melissa & Doug have them } diy letter tracing board peeling crayons
  6. Time to start rubbing and revealing the letters.She loved it. DIY Letter Tracing BoardI was worried it might be kinda blah but she enjoyed changing crayon colors, trying to guess what letter would be next and eventually announcing the letter. DIY Letter Tracing board for preschool

Alphabet Books

No Alphabet For Starters activity is complete without some rad alphabet books to deepen the lesson. Here are a few fun ones for beginners.

alphabetbook

Learn the Alphabet with NorthWest Coast Native Art by Ryan Cranmer (and others) was an amazing gas station find. Yes I said gas station. I ran in for some diet coke and came out with an alphabet book ! This book is amazing, bright beautiful and even though I bought it for my daughter since it’s bright colors and sturdy pages are perfect for a baby, my almost 4 year old son adores it. What I love is when he reads it to her . The Native art is gorgeous and if you are unfamiliar with north west coast art you are in for a treat.

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. Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but 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. }

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. It’s an incredibly fun book!  I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

Painting with Cookie Cutters

abc activityWith summer around the corner I usually shift from more involved activities to simpler ones . We used these alphabet cookie cutters for a playdough activity ages ago and they were the perfect tool for this painting activity.  I loved how amazed my daughter was every time she lifted the cookie cutter up to reveal the letter below. This is such an easy way to play with letters. There is no structure just colors, tools and exploration. This post is part of our Alphabet For Starters series. A series of posts that introduce and play with letters.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint, plates, alphabet cookie cutters ( or any shape really you don’t have to do the alphabet) and some paper.
  2. If you want to extend the activity a little take some time to mix colors with the paint. We used different colors and added white paint with each . My daughter called them ice cream colors. I have to agree! There are no pictures of us mixing the colors because her mixing got rather exuberant . Remember to have a wet cloth on hand so you don’t have to stash the toddler covered in paint under your arm while running to get one like I did.abc painting mixing
  3. Spread the paint on the paper plates, lay your paper down and go for it!abc painting colors
  4. She had a blast and it’s such a natural activity for letter recognition. You don’t even have to prompt your child if they are at all familiar with letters they will likely announce which they are using.  If not feel free to say things like ” Look you made an orange H ! Cool! ” but keep it light. I have no clue why her foot is on the window ledge but I am rather in awe of her flexibility.abc painting with letter cookie cutters
  5. Keep going and if your paper is large rotate it for more room to stamp.abc letter painting
  6. Let dry and display. Try to always display your children’s creations even if you only hang them up for a short while. Let them feel pride in their accomplishments.

Awesome ABC Books 

eating the alphabet

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.

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

alphabeep

Alphabeep!: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson is a great book for older toddlers and preschoolers. The transportation themed book uses rhymes and colorful illustrations to go from A to Z. The text was a bit long for my young toddler but I shortened it and he was able to enjoy the book , children 2 and up will love it just the way it is! This is on my must buy list.

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Spelling With Nuts & Bolts

spelling activity for kindergartenThis is not something I thought up at all. This idea has been around for ages but when my husband had to run to Home Depot for something else I asked him to grab us some nuts and bolts. If you are a regular reader you may know that I am forever trying to get my son to work on his fine motor skills. The way I approach this is to mix them with a task he really likes and excels at. For him that is anything language related like reading or spelling. There are way fancier tutorials out there but I am a busy mom so I needed to make this activity quickly . It’s bare bones but it works.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need bolts, nuts and a sharpie. A fine tip one would be best but mine was dried out and I’d already told my son we were doing a project so I used my huge one. Also my nuts and bolts are matte not glossy which makes the sharpie stay on better. Please test yours out to make sure it adheres before playing. nuts and bolts spelling activity for kids
  2. Write out simple CVC ( consonant vowel consonant) words on the end of the bolt. We did cat, rug, tub, top, jar and bug. This could easily be adapted for younger children by writing uppercase letters on the bolt and matching lowercase ones on the bolts. nuts and bolts spelling words
  3. Write the letters on the bolt. You can chose to only use a handful of bolts and make your child take them off one bolt to use on another word or make multiple copies of the same letter on different nuts. I decided only one copy of each letter because I was trying my hardest to get my son to work his fingers putting the nuts on and off.
  4. Invite your word builder and go for it. nuts and bolts kindergarten spellingThe first thing he said to me was ‘ How about we do this together. I will do the spelling, find the letters and you can screw them on. ” Nice try buddy. No. Don’t forget to put the letters on right side up. You must pay attention to which way they are on or your bug will look like bng … my son had to unscrew , flip it and screw it back on. nuts and bolts
  5. Soon he had the hang of it and I felt good knowing he was working on his fine motor skills. He told me the words were too easy so I am going to get longer bolts and give him a bigger challenge soon. nuts and bolts 3

After he was done his sister decided she wanted to try. This was really tricky ( near impossible) for her which means you will see some preschool fine motor posts in the near future! If you want to see more check this round up of fine motor activities out. Nuts and bolts spelling

 

Sidewalk Chalk – 4 Letter Activities

by Allison McDonald outdoor activities for kidsThis post wasn’t planned at all but the series I am going to create with it is . This is going to be the first in a series of posts that are unplanned and on the go. The pictures might not be as good because they will all be taken with my iPhone but the fun will be ! I don’t know if there will be 2 or 50 posts in this series but I hope that they will be useful to you and your kids. This one shows you how to do simple letter activities with sidewalk chalk and a spray bottle or two.

What we were doing when inspiration struck : 

outside learning activities for kids

My son was shooting hoops and my daughter was drawing with sidewalk chalk. I was trying to play with both of them and like always one of them was not happy with how much ( or how little) attention I was paying them compared to their sibling . You can’t see my daughter because she is on my leg asking me to draw her a bulldozer with the chalk.

What I did :

Took the sidewalk chalk and wrote out some letters.

What it turned into :

letter activities with sidewalk chalk  for kids

1. Find The Letter / Letter Sound

Simple game of me calling out a letter and my daughter would run to it. After she found them all easily I turned it to letter sounds which was much more challenging . I only did a few letter sounds not expecting her to know them but introducing them playfully.

letter games action words on letters

2. Letter Action Words

This continues the find the letter with a little more movement. I called out the letter and asked her to perform an action that starts with that letter . So I would say ” Can you jump on the j? ” and ” Now wiggle on the w ! ”  as you can see she had a blast with this one. I will be repeating this for sure!

letter activities spelling with sidewalk chalk

3. Walk and Spell

Now it was time to get the big guy over. The object of this activity was to spell out simple words by walking to each letter. I called out simple words like hat, bat, cap, tap, jam, Sam … I chose to always call out one word then after he was successful a 2nd changing only the first letter . This set him up for success while still offering a challenge. letter activities and spelling  with sidewalk chalkHe loved it and as you can see he had a shadow .

letter spraying with sidewalk chalk

4. Read and Spray

( grab some spray bottles and fill with water)

This was really just my attempt to clean the cul-de-sac up. My kids went from letter to letter spraying and calling out the letter names.

 

I hope you will follow this series of ” Unplanned and On The Go ” activities because they will be perfect bursts of learning for a busy summer schedule!