Painting with Cookie Cutters

abc activityWith summer around the corner I usually shift from more involved activities to simpler ones . We used these alphabet cookie cutters for a playdough activity ages ago and they were the perfect tool for this painting activity.  I loved how amazed my daughter was every time she lifted the cookie cutter up to reveal the letter below. This is such an easy way to play with letters. There is no structure just colors, tools and exploration. This post is part of our Alphabet For Starters series. A series of posts that introduce and play with letters.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some paint, plates, alphabet cookie cutters ( or any shape really you don’t have to do the alphabet) and some paper.
  2. If you want to extend the activity a little take some time to mix colors with the paint. We used different colors and added white paint with each . My daughter called them ice cream colors. I have to agree! There are no pictures of us mixing the colors because her mixing got rather exuberant . Remember to have a wet cloth on hand so you don’t have to stash the toddler covered in paint under your arm while running to get one like I did.abc painting mixing
  3. Spread the paint on the paper plates, lay your paper down and go for it!abc painting colors
  4. She had a blast and it’s such a natural activity for letter recognition. You don’t even have to prompt your child if they are at all familiar with letters they will likely announce which they are using.  If not feel free to say things like ” Look you made an orange H ! Cool! ” but keep it light. I have no clue why her foot is on the window ledge but I am rather in awe of her flexibility.abc painting with letter cookie cutters
  5. Keep going and if your paper is large rotate it for more room to stamp.abc letter painting
  6. Let dry and display. Try to always display your children’s creations even if you only hang them up for a short while. Let them feel pride in their accomplishments.

Awesome ABC Books 

eating the alphabet

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F eek, since it’s all about food!  Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry.

chica chica boom boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Anniversary Edition by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is one of my absolute favorite books ever. Many alphabet books are great tools but this one not only entertains it never gets old. It’s text is musical , it’s premise is brilliant in it’s simplicity and kids love it. My favorite line is ” Skit skat scoodle doot. Flip flop flee. ” I hope I am conveying how much fun this book is to read out loud. I have never had a class who didn’t like it and if you don’t have it, you should!

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.

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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.

 

Alphabet Activity – Christmas Tree Alphabet

alphabet christmas tree alphabet for starters no time for flash cardsI 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 .

  1. 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.alphabet christmas tree craft for toddlers
  2. Start by cutting your green paper into a Christmas tree. alphabet letter tree activity
  3. 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. alphabet christmas  letter activity
  4. Write the alphabet on the checkers pieces. alphabet craft
  5. Add the other half of the velcro dots on the checkers pieces.
  6. Let all the velcro set for at least 30 minutes. We practiced cutting alphabet christmas tree craft cuttingand did puzzles while we waited.  alphabet christmas tree craft puzzle
  7. Add some garland and lights ( aka some silver sharpie) . alphabet letter tree craft for kids
  8. Add the letters! alphabet christmas tree letter recognitionMost 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. alphabet christmas tree letter activity for kids26 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.alphabet xmas tree
  9. 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. alphabet christmas tree craft for kids

Disappearing Letters – Alphabet For Starters Activity

abc activity for kids It’s been a while since we have done an Alphabet For Starters activity. This is our popular series of alphabet activities that aim to introduce and play with letters in simple ways for beginners. This one was a true “Throw it together” activity. I was on a conference call for the first half sitting on the other side of the table jotting down notes while she played. When I saw what a hit it was I grabbed my camera and started clicking. This combines letter recognition, color mixing and fine motor all in a super simple activity.

  1. Gather your materials. I have no photo because this wasn’t planned at all but you will need a container for water, an eye dropper,  some coffee filters, a plate to protect your table from the running colors, markers and coffee filters. Have multiple coffee filters on hand because kids love this.
  2. Start by writing letters on the coffee filter.
  3. Ask your child to find their favorite letter. I like saying this instead of ” Find f, find r…” because in my experience it leads to them deciding which letter to find next and naturally declaring which letter it is. Drop the water on using the eye dropper and watch it disappear. My daughter LOVED this. ” It’s gone Mama!” She made multiple ones and helped me choose which letters to write.
  4. After my call was done I gave her the markers and she made her own letters on some coffee filters. When kids are learning to write even at the very early stages never say to them ” That’s not a B it’s a scribble, here let me make you a real B.” Their writing is a B it’s just in the early stages of development and by encouraging them their development will get there slow and steady as it is meant to.

Alphabet Books

 Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert is an alphabet book extraordinaire and perfect for a letter F eek, since it’s all about food! Wonderful paintings of fruits and vegetables seem ultra simple and it is but somehow the way the author has pieced this simple book together is brilliant. Maybe it’s that children learn about food at the table multiple times a day and feel proud being able to identify not only some of the letters but some of the pictures too! From a teaching standpoint I love that there are both upper and lower case letters on each page! This book will grow with your child, and beware it will also make you hungry. { This is one of my daughter’s very favorite alphabet books right now and possibly the number one reason she knows all her upper and lowercase letters} .

The Sleepy Little Alphabet: A Bedtime Story from Alphabet Town by Judy Sierra is a great alphabet book. I couldn’t help myself, I read it to my son to the tune of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom . It is clearly it’s own book though. The alphabet is getting ready for bed and just like your little ones, these lowercase letters are pulling out all their tricks and antics to avoid bedtime. Well almost all of them, z is more than happy to go to bed! It’s a sweet book that your kids can relate to and I like that it focuses on lowercase letters .

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Alphabet Photo Magnets – Alphabet For Starters

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. I then made a collage on picmonkey with the photos and printed it out.
  5. To turn these photos into magnets you will need a few more things . Adhesive magnet sheets, contact paper and sharp scissors.
  6. After cutting all the photos out place them face down on one sheet of contact paper. Add a second sheet over and press.
  7. 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.
  8. Peel the backing off the adhesive magnet sheets and place the photos on face up.
  9. 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. toddler alphabet activity