Sensory Alphabet Activities

by Katy
Sensory Alphabet Activity
One of the best ways to help a child learn is to have them use more than one sense at the same time.  I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons why Allie is so passionate about doing crafts with kids–all kinds of senses are engaged, which makes learning easier and also fun. It can be hard, though, when your child has issues that prevent them from participating in crafts.  Today I’m sharing three ways to do the alphabet with kids with limited motor skills although I think they would be fun for all kids.
Alphabet StampsSensory Alphabet Activity

I bought a pack of foam letters at Walmart for one dollar and turned them into two activities.  First, I used them as stamps and let Charlie stamp on a sheet of paper.  As we’re stamping out the letter, it’s good to name it and tell your child the sound it makes.
I then took the foam pieces and glued them to a piece of cardboard to make an alphabet puzzle.  Since Charlie’s aim is rough, I put all the letters in and then let him pull them out.  I let him decided which letter looked good and then I would again, name the letter he was touching and say it’s sound aloud.
Big LettersSensory Alphabet Activity
This activity is also great for improving fine motor skills–I don’t completely understand the relationship between big motions and improving fine motor, but multiple therapists have told me this, so I’m going to believe them.  Take a sheet of paper and put it up on your refrigerator. Give your child a crayon or marker and help them make BIG letters on the paper.  I found that Charlie was able to make some c-like motions, which is pretty impressive for him.  Children with poor neck control often do better when activities are propped up in front of them because it requires less head control.
Sugar Writing
4
You can also use sand, but sugar is easier for me to find.  Pour about half a cup of sugar into a baking pan.  If you can find one with a dark finish, then that will work great.  Help your child form letters in the sugar with their fingers.  This was probably Charlie’s favorite activity of the bunch–probably because it was one of the few that he was allowed to taste!
As always, don’t be discouraged if you try and activity and your child doesn’t like it.  All children are picky and special needs kids can often be intimidated by new experiences.  Experiment with different ideas, try activities multiple times, and remember that not every activity is going to be a hit.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Letter of The Week

Yarn y

Letter of the week y craft

Y is always tricky but this craft does double duty not only reinforcing the letter y, but also as a active fine motor skills lacing toy! As you can see I wasn’t fussy about how my son laced it. I wanted him to get the yarn through the holes not make perfect stitches. Holding the yarn in between his thumb and fingers also promotes the tripod grip ( proper way to hold writing tools).

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some cardboard, a hole punch, some markers, yarn, scissors and tape. Letter of the week y craft
  2. Write a lowercase ( would work great with uppercase too ) on your cardboard. Letter of the week craft
  3. Hand it to your child and invite them to color it with markers.  My son has taken to tracing and writing the letter on it. Letter of the week craft
  4. Add more colors until they decide they are done. Letter of the week craft
  5. While they are coloring cut off a long piece  of yarn and double it, so it make a bog loop. Tape the 2 ends together tightly so that it makes a hard end for easy lacing. Letter of the week craft
  6. Cut the y out. Letter of the week craft
  7. Hole punch time!  Our card board was too thick for my son to punch the holes, if the cereal box in the picture hasn’t had writing on the inside ( why do they do that?!) it would have been great. If your child can help , have them help. Letter of the week craft
  8. Before you hand the y back thread the yarn through the first hole and loop it back through the yarn so it ties onto the y. This eliminates meltdowns about the yarn just zooming through all the holes. As well as keeps the 2 pieces together for later use! Letter of the week craft
  9. Lace! I laced the first two holes to demonstrate it to my son then let him at it. Letter of the week craft
  10. Keep going! Letter of the week craft

Teaching children about letters is more fun if you include as many novel and sensory experiences as you can. This was a huge hit and even bigger mess, but well worth it. My son who is in the midst of a perfectionist phase loved that he could “erase” his letters. He also loved how the bright colors magically appeared under the cornstarch.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a shallow cardboard box, cornstarch, and some brightly colored markers, pastels or what I used… window markers.  Letter of the week craft
  2. Color the bottom of your box with a few colors. If you are using anything “wet” let it dry 100% before adding the cornstarch. Letter of the week craft
  3. Add the cornstarch and cover the color. Letter of the week craft
  4. Start writing! Isn’t it cool how the colors pop? I was giddy that it worked! Letter of the week craft
  5. Explore! Letter of the week craft
  6. He wrote an M then exclaimed – look I can make a W too, then flipped the whole box , then wrote another M.
  7. Letter of the week craft Letter of the week craft We stepped outside to shake all the extra off! Letter of the week craft

Have fun this one is MESSY – I was covered, my camera was covered, my son was covered and we had a blast!

Some of our Favorite Alphabet Books

Letter to Santa

Letter to Santa

I have fond memories of writing letters to Santa, first dictating it to my mom and after writing it myself. My favorite was in grade one when I wrote to Santa and Santa wrote back ! So in that spirit this acitivy is one where your child writes or dictates a letter and  you send it away to Santa . Ours was send via Grandma who has a “contact” at the north pole and will make sure that Santa’s letter to my son gets here!  I hope when it does my son’s wonder will be the same mine was so long ago .

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paper, a pencil or marker, some fun holiday stickers , an envelope , stamps and an eager child to write or dictate. Letter to Santa
  2. Explain to your child why and what you are doing, if your child is young like my 3 year old they may need some explanation. Encourage them to not only ask for things but to ask Santa questions and tell him about things they have been doing. We chatted while he ate lunch! Letter to Santa
  3. Start writing.
  4. Have your child sign their name even if you did the writing.Letter to Santa
  5. Add stickers.Letter to Santa
  6. Label your envelope and add stamps.
  7. Mail!
  8. Don’t forget to watch the mail for Santa’s return letter!

Books

My Penquin Osbert

My Penguin Osbert by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel is a perfect book for this activity. In this story a little boy writes to Santa and asks for a very specific gift, a real live penguin! It’s not long before he realizes that a real live penguin is not as much fun as he thought it would be. He is very responsible though and sacrifices a lot for Osbert. He is thankful to Santa for getting his gift exactly right but writes a follow up letter explaining how it would be ok if Santa sent a replacement. Very cute story, it’s not short though but my 3 year old listened to it happily for a bedtime story. Laughing at the funny parts and pointing out that he wrote a letter to Santa too, but he didn’t ask for a penguin… thank goodness!

inside outside christmas

Inside, Outside Christmas by Robin Spowart is a great simple Christmas book for toddlers and preschoolers. The text is short, each set of pages has something we do during the holidays inside and one outside. The text has simple rhymes that my son liked and it isn’t  too short for preschoolers, the pictures led to questions and discussion and the end of the book has a holiday greeting for everyone!  Cute book to get young readers into the spirit of Christmas.

DIY Framed Chalkboard !

Playroom Addition !

Writing on a vertical surface is very important for fine motor development. It works out the developing muscles in the arm and wrist that are used for writing. Your child’s hands/wrists naturally go into the proper position when writing vertically so easels , white boards and chalkboards like this one are invaluable! I have been wanting to make my son one for ages, and I finally bit the bullet. It was insanely easy and inexpensive too!

* Updated to add this super cool link to another chalkboard at infarrantly creative that blows ours away! don’t miss it! *
Cereal Box Mosaic

  1. Gather your materials. I used Benjamin Moore chalkboard paint, a roller, paint tray, painters tape, an old picture frame, an old sheet, 4 nails and a hammer.
  2. Start by deciding where you want the chalkboard. Have your child show you how high they can reach so that it’s all usable space. I’m no good with measuring tape so I just eyeballed it and thumb tacked it to the wall to decide. You may want to measure where on the wall you put it.
  3. Tape off the area to paint.
  4. Apply your first coat. Wait 4 hours or more and add a 2nd. Let dry.
  5. Take off the tape.
  6. Place your frame on the wall so the painted area is centered, and secure it to the wall. I nailed mine but depending on your walls you’ll want to use the appropriate fashion. I particularly liked using a frame because it creates a ledge for the chalk as well.
  7. Add chalk and child!

Abstract Art Activity

abstract art activity for kids

Kids get so hung up on drawing sometimes and this abstract art can be really liberating. It also helps learn how to color in the lines if you are working on fine motor control. I don’t know what to call this, this is what I used to do in math class, which explains why my grades were so horrible. It is really relaxing, great for a rainy day or even to keep your antsy kids busy while watching a movie or traveling! And they look really cool too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some markers and paper. Yes that’s it!
  2. Start by drawing loops and squiggles that criss cross all over your paper.
  3. Next using your colored markers fill in the closed shapes however you like.
  4. Keep going until you either fill the whole thing or just feel like it’s done!