Alphabet Road – Letter Sorting

letter craftby Allison McDonald

Last week we played with our Alphabet Garden and a commenter asked how I could make it for children who loved cars and trucks. This is the letter sorting game that I came up with for cars and trucks. You could do it as a magnet activity like we did or put it all on a sheet of contact paper like our alphabet garden, whatever best fits your child. This activity is part of our Alphabet for Starters series that is focused on making playing with letters fun and dynamic. This can be adapted to any level. For children just beginning to notice letters they can simply put the letters on the road. Don’t worry about sorting into cases. For older children use the letters to spell. Write words with a missing letter and have your older child fill in the blank. Here is what we did for my daughter who is familiar with both upper and lowercase letters and enjoys sorting them.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some black construction paper, green construction paper ( scraps would work great), clear contact paper , pictures of cars and trucks ( mine come from wrapping paper) , self adhesive magnetic sheets, a white crayon, scissors, a marker and a cookie sheet from the dollar store.alphabet sorting with cars and trucks
  2. Start by making your cars and trucks. Cut the cars out.alphabet sorting for preschool with cars and trucks Add the letters. I didn’t do every letter in both upper and lowercase. I chose letters that my daughter has trouble with mixed in with some sure fire bets so she would be challenged but confident in her ability.alphabet uppercase and lowercase sorting with car theme
  3. Lay a large sheet of contact paper down sticky side up and lay the cars face down.alphabet letter sorting for preschool Place another sheet on top to sandwich the cars inside. Or laminate if you have access to a laminator. I am very jealous if you do. Nothing gets a teacher ( even a former teacher) more excited than laminating something. Cut into individual cars and trucks. alphabet for starters car theme
  4. Add the magnets. alphabet activity car lettersNow if you have a child who is well past the putting things in their mouth stage cut little squares and stick them on the back of the cars. If you want you could also lay the whole laminated car on the sticky back magnet sheet and then cut .alphabet magnet This will make it harder for the to peel any small piece off. Please always remember that all our activities are designed for children to do with a parent within arms reach and only if they are ready for the activity. You don’t have to make the pieces magnetic for the kids to have fun, it’s just a bonus.
  5. Make a simple road and some signs saying UPPERCASE ROAD and lowercase road . These give visual cues even for kids that aren’t reading independently . You can add magnets to these if you want too. Painter’s tape is a great choice if you are skipping the magnets but want these pieces to stay in place temporarily.car and truck alphabet activity
  6. Ready to play! This is what it would look like if I handed it to my 6 year old.alphabet game For my almost 3 year old it looked like this. She ended up sorting all the letters but I gave  them to her in bite size pieces so she wasn’t overwhelmed.alphabet game for kids
  7. She loves cars and trucks right now ( well really bulldozers are the best) so she was all into it. After the first few were put on she asked me for more. Remember to label what your child is doing and to sit back. If they ask for help be ready to support but don’t take over.alphabet game for preschool
  8. The trickiest part for her were letters like w and o.alphabet activity kids She thought for a long time before placing them down. She just kept piling them on. alphabet activity with cars and trucksAnd was insistent that she show it off at the end. I was impressed with how many magnets piled together still stayed in place.alphabet road activity

Alphabet Book

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. Edited for 2013 : My daughter also loved this book and had me read it twice at the library which is a glowing review.

For more Alphabet Books check out our list of 50 Alphabet Books We Love

This book review includes an affiliate link.

Easter Egg Letter Match – Alphabet For Starters

easter egg letter recognition activityby Allison McDonald

This uppercase lowercase letter match activity is not ground breaking but combining it with an Easter theme helps makes letter recognition practice and skill development into play.  Adding a fun novelty like a holiday theme does wonders for kids motivation and a motivated child is a child ready to learn. This activity is part of our Alphabet for Starters series which focuses on fun playful ways to learn the alphabet.  A few easy adaptations for different levels would be doing a straight identical letter match having only all lower or all uppercase letters and doing this with sight words for emergent readers.

  1. Gather your materials. I got this egg tray at Walmart for under a dollar. I almost bought all 4 colors but I restrained myself and let my daughter pick her favorite color. You could use an egg carton just as effectively no need to buy anything special. You will also need some paper, marker , plastic Easter eggs and a bucket for the eggs. A circle paper punch is optional for the letters in the tray. You may also want some tape to tape the paper in the tray down. Ours got staticky and interrupted the flow a few times. easter egg letter match 2
  2. Start by writing lowercase letters on small pieces of paper. Try to include a majority of letters your child knows ( about 2/3) and some you know have been challenging in the past. This will hopefully give them a good balance of ” This is challenging but I can do it!” which is the perfect zone for learning. Easter Egg Letter Match 3
  3. Pop them in your tray. easter egg letter match 5
  4. Write the corresponding upper case letters on the eggs in marker. easter egg letter match
  5. Put the eggs in the bucket and invite your letter matcher to the table. easter egg letter activity for kids
  6. Start matching. easter egg letter match alphabet activityShe wanted to put the lowercase letter in the egg after matching them which is a fun add on even though a few of the eggs didn’t want to close back up and that frustrated her greatly. I think an older child would do wonderfully with this add on even if it proved to be too much for a 2 year old. I was tricky for her but with some help she got it. After that it was smooth sailing.easter egg letter match 4 I thought Q would give her trouble but she was a champ.Easter Egg Letter Match 10 Celebrate any and all victories. Easter Egg Letter Match 9

Books About Easter

Where-Are-Baby-s-Easter-Eggs

Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs? by Karen Katz is a great way of having an Easter egg hunt while reading a story. If you aren’t familiar with the ” Where are  Baby’s …” series of life the flap books, they are simple books where the reader searches for an item finding other things first before finally finding the title object, in this case Easter eggs. My daughter loves these books and plays with them even when we aren’t reading them together. I love the bright illustrations and the simple holiday theme.

Easter books

The Best Easter Eggs Ever! by Jerry Smath is an adorable book about Easter. The story follows the Easter bunny and his 3 young assistant bunnies as they prepare for their big day. The Easter Bunny is getting tired and a little bored of his polka dot design for the eggs and decides to send out his assistants in search of new designs. The little bunnies head out with one egg and paints to all different places to find inspiration. When one of the little bunnies is captivated by the night sky she doesn’t notice how dark it is and how lost she has gotten. The Easter Bunny and his other assistants find her and in the morning the new designs are celebrated. My son loves an inside look at any sort of secret place like  the Easter Bunny’s or Santa’s workshop so he was drawn into this book immediately. I liked the illustrations and how detailed they were , it certainly got me excited about Easter.

easter books for kids

The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing is a Easter version of the classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas” . With fun pictures and an Easter Bunny so joyful I wanted to apply for his job this book was a hit at our house. My son was engaged through the whole book guessing at the rhymes and listening intently from one page to the next. Of all the books this was the only one that really engaged my toddler as well. She pointed out animals and loved the little boy in the book. Great Easter book.

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Alphabet Activity – Pretend Play With Letters

alphabet mail activity for kidsThis 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 made this mail box years 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!

  1. 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.alphabet mail
  2. Start by having your child write some letters.alphabet mail 2
  3. While they do that write out the envelopes with upper and lowercase letters.alphabet mail 3
  4. Fill them with the letters your child writes. I filled a few with other letters as well . alphabet mail 5
  5. Next add stamps. Ours were added haphazardly after my daughter demanded we find some. I just wrote STAMP on some plain labels.alphabet mail 6
  6. Pop them on the envelopes.alphabet mail 7
  7. Time to play.alphabet mail 9 We put each letter in the mailbox stopping to read each envelope as we did. alphabet mail 10
  8. When we were done she lifted the box and the play turned into receiving mail. alphabet mail 11
  9. She loved opening them. alphabet mail 13Some 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. alphabet mail 12

Alphabet Books

50 alphabet books

Find our 50 favorite alphabet books for kids in this big round up of books. Do you have a favorite?

Letter Recognition Activities For Kids

learn letters

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
Font Collages
Magic Letters
Move & Groove Letter Game
Letter Snowman
Leaf Matching Puzzles
Letter Memory Game
Letter Monsters
Disappearing Letters
Sparkly Alphabet
Custom Letter Magnets
Gardening For Letters
Letter Sorting Tree

Letter Memory Game – Alphabet For Starters

heart shaped upper case & lowercase letter memory game

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.

  1. Gather your materials.  You will need a sharpie and some colorful foam hearts. I got both at the dollar store for a buck each.heart shaped letter memory game
  2. 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. heart shaped letter match game
  3. Lay out your hearts face down.heart letter memory game for learning
  4. Play. She was enthusiastic immediately. I demonstrated once and she was off. heart shaped letter memry and match gameWe left our letters face up in their own spaces when we matched them up. She was thrilled when her letter ( M) was flipped overheart shaped upper and lower case memory game and even happier when she made a match. heart letter memory gameThe 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.
  5. Celebrate with each match heart letter match for valentine's dayand hoot and holler when you have completed the whole game!heart shaped letter match game for kids 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.