Alphabet for Starters is our series of playful activities and crafts to introduce letters to children in fun ways. These magnets are not just pictures with corresponding letters they are photos from a real life experience, with memories and meaning attached to them. This is what sets them apart from a batch of flash cards you can pick up anywhere. Even better is that all of the photos were taken by my son and I fit in some learning on the go for him too.You can do this with any theme or event so long as it’s meaningful and engaging for your child.
- Gather your materials. Before you head out to take photos make a small notebook with paper ( ours are old business cards) and write out or have your older child write out the alphabet. This was strategic on my part since my son struggles a little with writing especially writing small and the business cards forced him to write small.
- Next play tourist in your own city . My son played photographer and checked off the letters as he took the photos. Do not worry about trying to get every letter of the alphabet that isn’t the goal . The goal is to make meaningful and deep connections so focus on the letters with good and memorable experiences with them.
- After you get home it’s time to edit , crop and add the text to the photos. I love picmonkey.com . Upload and edit each photo , add the text then save to your computer.
- I then made a collage on picmonkey with the photos and printed it out.
- To turn these photos into magnets you will need a few more things . Adhesive magnet sheets, contact paper and sharp scissors.
- After cutting all the photos out place them face down on one sheet of contact paper. Add a second sheet over and press.
- Cut out. I should say that you can skip using contact paper to “laminate” the photos but it will make them last so much longer if you do.
- Peel the backing off the adhesive magnet sheets and place the photos on face up.
- Trim.Pop them on the washer , fridge or a cookie sheet and invite your little one to play. My daughter immediately told me what each one was and grabbed the M is for Map magnet and told me in a super excited 2 year old way that that was HER and she was reading the map! In the days that followed she has recounted stories while playing with them which is a really exciting step in early literacy. My son plays with her as well reminding her of bits and pieces of our trip to the zoo in the process.
My mom returned from an Alaskan cruise with this super cool mining hat for my son and I knew I wanted to use it as a prop for an activity. He is all about pretend play and dress up The same way I use super heroes to get him excited to write I used this new hat for this fun sensory activity. Even though we used magnets you could do this with pinchers , a small scoop or just wee little hands! Older kids ready for magnets though will love how the wand helps them mine for the ” diamonds”.
- Gather your materials. You will need some dried beans , lentils or rice, a container, a magnetic wand with steel ringed chips or marbles .
- Pour the dried beans/ rice in the container. A lot of parents email me saying that they are shocked that their 4-7 year olds still like sensory bins. I am not surprised in the least. Especially when you have them help make them and there is a little task involved ( though never required).
- Add the magnetic chips – we were pretending they were diamonds.
- Start mining. Count, sort do whatever you want with the treasures you mine.
- The only thing you must do is have fun!
Mole Music by David McPhail is a beautiful book about the power of music, trying hard and not giving up on your dreams. The story is about a mole who sees a violin on TV one day and decides to get his own and play. He is terrible at first but sticks with it. His music becomes beautiful, and over the years he thinks only he can hear and enjoy it. In reality his music is nourishing a grand tree above the ground that serves roles in great things including as a mediator in a battle where both sides end up coming to a peaceful agreement instead of warfare. Now yes I think that one little mole’s music ending a war is a rather large statement but if you break it down, music and the arts are vital and do transform people’s lives the way they transformed Mole’s. My favorite part is in one illustration Mole is playing and in another tunnel you can see his old TV discarded and tipped over, I like that message.
Put on your pirate hats and grab your treasure maps and discover buried treasure with this magnetic discovery box . It was so much fun and a great way to work on a number of things from colors, counting, letters… the sky is the limit. This is not at all safe for infants, toddlers or any child still putting things in their mouths. My 4 year old son was happy as a clam playing this over and over again while his sister napped. Especially since I explicitly told him it was only for big kids, no babies allowed. It’s nice to have things just for him now that he has to share so much.
- Gather your materials. You will need a magnetic wand , some magnetic marbles ( ours came with our wand),some magnetic letters/numbers, a dish tub, some cracked wheat and or rice. I know some parents are concerned about using sand for crafts so I searched for the best replacement and this bulk cracked wheat really looks like sand!
- Pour your rice and cracked wheat into your tub.
- Take some time feeling the pretend sand , talk about how it feels, ask your child if they like it or not.
- Ask your child to cover their eyes and hide the magnets. * hint about keeping everyone in your family safe. Count the magnets before they go into the tub and do a “headcount” of them after you are done playing. Magnets are really fun toys and great for learning but in the wrong hands/ mouths they are very dangerous.
- Search for treasure!
- Ask what they found- it’s a fun way to practice letter and number recognition, counting , or even addition and subtraction!
- This is what baby girl was doing while we explored.