Shell Letters – Alphabet Activity

learning activity letter formationThe beach and playdough are two of our very favorite things. Put them together and you have the perfect tactile summer letter activity. My daughter has been able to recognize her letters for a long time as well as their sounds but forming those letters is still something we are working on often. This alphabet activity combines textures to make creating letters truly hands on.  As you will see after the initial activity she modified it for more play while I sat back and marveled at how quickly she went from a baby to a child… some days you just need to stare at them don’t you?

Gather your materials. You will need some shells, playdough, a cutting board or other playdough friendly surface, card stock, marker, some fun containers and a little letter engineer ready to explore.shell letters letter recognition for kids

I made little letter cards and since our shells were so rigid I only wrote out letters with straight lines like A, E, F, K, etc…beach shell letters

Start by setting things up. When I make an invitation to learn like this I usually have it set up so she knows what to do and then let her explore with out me interjecting. In a classroom I would have this set out on a table and allow the students to come and go ( or not come and go) as they pleased.shell letter cards

First she pressed the playdough down into a flat surface.shell playdough letters

Then she dove right in using the shells to create letters that matched the cards.making letters with shells and playdough

Some took more planning than others.thinking sabout how to do it shell letters

Then she changed things up and started using the shells to write in the playdough. writing with shellsAs the play shifts encourage the exploration. Activities like this are invitations and when they start exploring like this please don’t stop them. She was still learning and having fun even if she wasn’t still doing the planned activity. That is not a bad thing, roll with their discovery! shell letters explore

 

 

 Books About The Beach

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At-The-Beach-

At the Beach by Anne and Harlow Rockwell .A little girl visits the beach with her mom. She plays in the sand, hunts for shells, takes a swim before she settles in to a nice beach lunch. A visit to the beach can be a full day and this story gives the reader a great description of what to expect. This is great for young kids who haven’t been to the beach. It explains using a young girl’s point of view what you bring to beach and what you can expect to do once you’re there. The illustrations are muted and warm and fill the page and included our young red-haired beach girl enjoying herself in each one.

squirrel

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt is hilarious, I actually snorted while reading it. I love books like this that have absurd humor thrown in with a great story. Before you even start flipping pages on the inside flap you will notice a blurb that ends with “This story is not suitable for pirates” it just makes me giggle! The story follows the most anxious squirrel you’ll ever encounter as he tries to make his own beach, only to end up at a busy one! What I love about this book are the details, the small asides will have you laughing and the main story will keep even young ones totally entertained. Super fun and a great message about overcoming fears as well.

what lives in a shell?

What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld is great book in my favorite science series the Let’s-Read-And-Find-Out . This book is a little long for toddlers but really great for preschoolers and easy to break into parts. The book starts talking about snails, then moves to turtles and finally sea shells. Like the others in the series this book break down facts to a preschoolers level without loosing any substance. If you are looking for a non fiction book for your little one, you must check out this series, they are hands down my favorite non fiction for young children.

Felt Leaf Letter Match – Alphabet Activity

fall letter activityThis simple alphabet activity has many layers of exploration for our little ones. The soft felt leaves and hard clothes pins offer contrasting textures, opening and closing the clothes pins helps build hand strength, and of course there is letter recognition as well. Not bad for $3 in supplies from the dollar store. This is part of our Alphabet For Starters Series which aims to introduce and play with letters in fun dynamic ways.

Gather your materials. You will need some felt leaves ( I got mine at Dollar Tree ), a pen, and clothes pins. I also used my favorite little crates . leaf letter match letter recognition 3

Write the uppercase letters on the felt. I just used a regular old pen. I had to wipe the tip a few times but it worked great otherwise.leaf letter recognition activity for preschool

Write the lowercase letters on the clothes pins.leaf letter recognition for kids

Time to match. leaf letter match with clothes pinsWith younger children don’t just throw the whole alphabet to them. Give them 5 – 10 letters and then add more as needed. 10 was the perfect number for my daughter who is just 3. The act of matching the different forms of the letters was a bit of a challenge but if she would have had to dig through all 26 letters to find one she would have tired of this much sooner. Offer all 26 for older more experienced letter matchers.Leaf letter matching game for kids

Later in the day we played a game with the leaves and clothes pins. She would choose a clothes pin and tell me what letter it was then I would offer her a littler that did not match and say ” This is the match right?” She would say ” No! That is the letter XYZ.” until I offered her the correct leaf and she would cheer and clip it. She thought it was very funny to correct Mama. I also plan to use these letters for a indoor leaf hunt later this week. leaf letter match game for preschool

Don’t forget to use this activity as a conversation starter to talk about the leaves in the trees around your house. Are they changing yet? Talk about why and pop outside to have a look.

 

Fall Alphabet Books

t is for touchdown

T is for Touchdown: A Football Alphabet by Brad Herzog is a beautiful book that will delight even those of us who are never happy to see football season start. I admit even being an anti fan this book was fun and really full of information that even a football scrooge like myself can appreciate. Also it’s easy to read simply the letters and look at the pictures for little ones and has genuinely interesting blurbs for each page for older children.

Autumn Books

 Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic by Steven Schnur is a lovely book that is also a wonderful introduction into this form of poetry for young children. Each page has a poem about the season, from Acorns, to Owls to Pumpkins. Each letter of the words are a jumping off point for a sentence in the poem. The beauty of this book is that it reads well traditionally as well as individual poems which really makes it two books in one.

patty's pumpkin patch

Patty’s Pumpkin Patch  by Teri Sloat is a great alphabet book and story in one. Readers follow a pumpkin patch from planting the seeds until after Halloween when they gather the seeds for the next planting.  I really like how this book combines an alphabet book with both upper and lowercase letters corresponding to some animal or insect in the story . I also like the easy rhythm of the rhyming text and the engaging and detailed illustrations . All in all I think this is a great fall book.

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Alphabet Activities For Every Season

Alphabet Activities for every season preschool lesson plansKids learn better when they are having fun and engaged in the lesson. My favorite way to teach children is to connect the lesson to their interests , a well loved book ,or some big event like a holiday. That is why I try to give readers so many different themes to keep learning fresh. There is no reason to drill your kids when teaching them the alphabet when there are so many ways to teach letters without flash cards. Here are alphabet activities for every season.

 

fall alphabet activities for kidsHere are seven great alphabet activities with a fall theme for your child to have fun with.

Upper and Lowercase Matching Tree
Peel & Pick Alphabet Apple Tree
Monster M
Leaf Letter Puzzles
Pumpkin Patch Letter Match
Letter Monsters
Pumpkin P

winter alphabet activities for kids

Bundle up and learn with these great winter themed alphabet activities.

Writing In The Snow
Alphabet Christmas Tree
Valentine’s Day Heart Letter Match Game
Winter W
Letter Snowman

Spring Alphabet activities for kids

Spring is filled with pretty colors and so are these alphabet activities.

Easter Egg Letter Match
Alphabet Butterfly Garden
Easter Egg Letter Surprise
Sidewalk Chalk Letter Games
Letter Flower Garden
Gardening For Letters
Earth Day Letter E

summer alphabet activities for kids

Summer is a time most of us head outside and there is no reason you can’t take learning out with you!

Hose Down Letters
Letters On The Go
Letter Watermelon
Fishing For Letters
Fourth of July Flag F
Road Trip Alphabet

j

We love alphabet activities and if you are looking for even more ideas check out our Early Literacy and Reading and Writing Readiness boards on Pinterest. You will find our ideas but many other from all over the web.

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Dollar Store Salt Tray { Alphabet Activity }

learn to write Writing letters in salt or sand is a classic Montessori activity. They give children a sensory experience while also learning how to form letters. What I have always loved about salt trays is that if a child doesn’t like how their letter turned out they can gently shake it and start again. These items were all bought at the dollar store . You could easily make 4 salt trays for $4 with the supplies listed. Exploring letters in all different ways lets kids experience them and make meaningful connections. Do not worry about how perfect the letters are at this stage, let them explore them and get used to the different kinds of lines and curves that go into them all. This post is part of our Alphabet for Starters series , a series of posts that aim to make learning the alphabet fun and creative instead of full of rote memorization. See more from that series here.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some sentence strips, a sharpie, scissors, salt, and a pie plate( came in a pack of 4). You could also use a cookie sheet, shoe box lid or casserole dish. dollar store salt tray
  2. Cut the sentence strips into smaller cards. You could also use flash cards but as you might guess I don’t have any on hand .dollarstore salt tray alphabet activity
  3. Write out letters with the sharpie. You can write uppercase, lowercase, or a mix like I did. Go at whatever pace your child is at but don’t forget to put in a few challenges. For beginners stick with straight line letters like L , T, H  and the completely curves ones like C and O they have always been easier in my experience that when you mix the two together. We want kids at this age to have some initial success before we challenge them so that their confidence helps carry them through the harder bits. dollar store alphabet activity
  4. Pour in the salt. My daughter LOVED this so much we did it many times over…. and my porch still has salt on it. salt tray activity
  5. Stack the cards and start writing.dollar store learning letters with a salt tray My daughter who turned 3 in June had a touch time with some of the letters but when I explained to her she could shake and try again she perked up. alphabet activities for preschool In one sitting she did 6 letters. Do not expect to go through the whole alphabet especially with a 3 year old or an older child new to this activity. learning to form letters with a salt tray

z

Alphabet Books

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z is for moose

Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham is a hilarious alphabet book that will have you and your child giggling throughout. The books is all about a zebra who is making an alphabet book and his over zealous friend Moose who is very very excited to be involved. So excited in fact that he can’t wait for M to be called and ends up crashing a bunch of other letters. When M does come he’s been replaced by a mouse. Moose’s reaction will turn your kids giggles into chuckles and all the while they will be working on letter recognition. Love this book!

Sleepy ABC

Sleepy ABC by Margaret Wise Brown . Although I have a legendary hatred of Runaway Bunny I generally love this author. I like this book, and the illustrations will zip you back in time for sure.  Unlike many alphabet books it has a great rhythm for reading it all without breaks.  My one complaint is that the child is tucked into bed then a few letters later is out listening to a story from another woman not their mom. I am not sure perhaps those are different children, didn’t bug my son one bit, but left me wondering. Like the title suggests it’s a good alphabet book for a bedtime read, it even ends with something I say often ” Go To Sleep!”.

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. My son loves this book, I grabbed it at the library after remembering how much my Pre K class loved it too.Many alphabet books are too long to read entirety at circle time or in one shot with a toddler but this 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. }

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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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