This was a rainy Sunday activity thrown together with a old favorite pretend play prop. It’s a great alphabet activity with a focus on pretend play and part of our Alphabet For Starters series. My son and I madethis mail boxyears ago and it had been a while since I’d dug it out of my son’s closet to play. We added in some envelopes and letters and got down to the serious business of play!
- Gather your materials. You will need a super cool mailbox like this one we made from a box, some envelopes, small squares of paper, markers, plain labels, and a bag or purse to use as a mail bag.
- Start by having your child write some letters.
- While they do that write out the envelopes with upper and lowercase letters.
- Fill them with the letters your child writes. I filled a few with other letters as well .
- Next add stamps. Ours were added haphazardly after my daughter demanded we find some. I just wrote STAMP on some plain labels.
- Pop them on the envelopes.
- Time to play. We put each letter in the mailbox stopping to read each envelope as we did.
- When we were done she lifted the box and the play turned into receiving mail.
- She loved opening them. Some were filled with the letters she wrote and some had more letters of the alphabet on them. Label what they open as they do. As we played some of the letters were pretend invites to parties, others were letters from grandparents and one was a bill which cracked me up.
Find our 50 favorite alphabet books for kids in this big round up of books. Do you have a favorite?
Learning letters is more than just being able to recognize them on a page and these playful activities are all fun ways to practice letter recognition. No matter your child’s ability you can use these activities for introducing or mastering letter recognition. A great place to start with the letters in your child’s first name. While I taught uppercase letters first as a teacher I really feel like the best way to teach is to do upper and lowercase concurrently. Try your hardest not to quiz or drill your child for facts and instead make it fun and meaningful.
Build With Letters
Move & Groove Letter Game
Leaf Matching Puzzles
Letter Memory Game
Custom Letter Magnets
Gardening For Letters
Letter Sorting Tree
I am still calling this an alphabet for starters activity but really my little girls is graduating to just plain alphabet activities. Matching upper and lowercase letters is not really a beginner activity but the playful way to learn with a memory game still meets the goal of this series . Playful alphabet activities. This game would be a cinch to adjust for more novice learners. Simply stick to only one case of letters or scrap the memory game and try something more straight forward like my friend Jamie did a few days ago on Hands On As We Grow. To make it tougher skip using the scaffold of the matching colors and use only one color of hearts. To see our other Alphabet for Starters activities see our list here.
- Gather your materials. You will need a sharpie and some colorful foam hearts. I got both at the dollar store for a buck each.
- Write out letter pairs with one upper and one lowercase letter. I didn’t do the whole alphabet , I rarely do. I choose letters I know she knows ( M, A, J) and some I know she struggles with ( Q, G, ) and fill in the gaps randomly. Also each pair is done in the same color. When we played I told my daughter to find the same color. This made the game much more accessible for a 2 year old and gave her color recognition work to boot.
- Lay out your hearts face down.
- Play. She was enthusiastic immediately. I demonstrated once and she was off. We left our letters face up in their own spaces when we matched them up. She was thrilled when her letter ( M) was flipped over and even happier when she made a match. The first time we played she called the Q a “funny O” we tried to figure out what letter is was and I ended up labeling it for her and we kept playing. The next day ( we’ve played daily for 5 days in a row so far) she called it a Q and matched it to it’s lowercase letter without any prompting. No drill needed , just a fun game.
- Celebrate with each match and hoot and holler when you have completed the whole game! I often gets asked if I play against my kids for memory games. Sometime I do but usually I don’t. We play as a team . For my daughter with a game like this I will narrate with her after she identifies a letter unprompted I will say ” Hmm I wonder which heart the lowercase B is under ?” or some such thing. If she is having a hard time with a letter. I will try to ask questions to help her instead of just telling her. Like with the Q I said ” What letter do you have ?” and she answered ” A funny O.” then I said ” What makes it funny?” ” It has a tail Mama!” . To which I replied ” Do O’s have tails.” and she giggled saying “No!” and I said ” That is a an uppercase Q.” Even at such a young age kids can help figure things out and when we engage them like this they learn to ask questions , answer others and not just guess at the right answer.
Have you been able to to make a snowman yet this winter? We haven’t been able to make a real one but we did make this fun letter snowman craft. This activity is part of our Alphabet For Starters Series which is a series of simple and fun activities that expose and introduce young kids to letters in playful ways. According to my daughter it can’t get much more fun than stamping so using these letter stamps to decorate our snowman.
- Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, blue , black and a little orange construction paper, glue, googly eyes, alphabet stamp set and a stamp pad.
- Start by making your snowman. Cut out the frame . Glue on the white sheet and trim.
- Pick your letters. She as always looked for letters in her own name first. Do not push young kids to look for new letters instead let them explore . Let them play and get familiar with them as they pick and choose the stamps. As they pick the stamps up label the letters, ask questions about them like ” Where are you going to put the M?” I put the cut out from the head back on the snowman with some tape to stop her from stamping the face.
- While they stamp cut out a nose and hat from construction paper.
- When they are done stamping pass them the glue.
- Add eyes
- Add a nose and a hat.
- Let dry .
I thought I was done with Christmas crafts ( I have a few more ready to post) but when I found these little checkers pieces I knew just what I wanted to do with them. It’s a fun, easy Alphabet For Starters activity but can be adapted for older kids as well. Alphabet for Starters is our series of fun and playful ideas for teaching children the alphabet. See the end of the post for ideas of how to play with this alphabet activity in a more structured way .
- Gather your materials. You will need 2 sheets of construction paper ( any color and green) , glue, velcro dots, star sticker, checkers pieces ( these are from the dollar store checkers games) , marker, scissors and possibly contact paper * see below for my explanation of why.
- Start by cutting your green paper into a Christmas tree.
- Glue to the other paper , add the star and add velcro dots. ** If you are making this for a class or for kids that might be anything but really careful I would laminate or cover with contact paper before adding the dots so that the velcro doesn’t simple rip the paper when it’s pulled. I made sure my kids only gently placed the letters and prayed it didn’t rip. I was lucky.
- Write the alphabet on the checkers pieces.
- Add the other half of the velcro dots on the checkers pieces.
- Let all the velcro set for at least 30 minutes. We practiced cutting and did puzzles while we waited.
- Add some garland and lights ( aka some silver sharpie) .
- Add the letters! Most children will narrate as they go especially if they are used to you labeling letters for them. My daughter searched for letters in her own name and those of her family. 26 letters are a lot of r a 2 year old so I asked her to choose some to give to mommy to add. Of course she grabbed some labeling each before handing them to me. Then finished it herself.
- Later that afternoon when we showed her brother what we did while he was at school he took each off and added them in alphabetical order . He can also spell words with it and my favorite is to fill in the blanks.