Pound & Learn Alphabet – Alphabet For Starters

fine motor and alphabet learningThis simple fine motor and alphabet activity for kids is the 9th post in our Alphabet For Starters series, it’s our series of simple activities to play and introduce the alphabet to little learners.  My son loved this when we did a even simpler version many years ago and still loved it this time. As you will see my daughter liked pushing in the tees a lot more than hammering them and that’s fine.  She played with the letters, got lots of fine motor skill development and most importantly she had fun. Things rarely turn out as you imagined with kids. Roll with it.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some Styrofoam, golf tees , a toy hammer , some markers and some painters tape if you are doing it outside to keep it from blowing away.
  2. Start by writing out the letters. Choose a few or a lot.fine motor activity
  3. Add the tees
  4. Time to hammer! She started off interested in the hammer but …hammering fine motor
  5. Soon she was all about pushing them in with her fingers.
  6. And exploring the styrofoam . I think this is what she liked best!
  7. After her brother came home we dug the pushed in tees out , re set them and let him pound away.

Books

Alfie’s ABC by Shirley Hughes is a sweet alphabetic look at a little boy and his family’s life. The illustrations of the cherubic children are what sells this book and my 2 year old loved them. Alfie has a little sister and my daughter immediately proclaimed that the baby sister was her and the brother was her big brother. The letters are presented with both upper and lowercase and are prominent enough that for children unable to sit for all the text to simply thumb through and explore letters.

Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray is a really cute alphabet book and story about a dog and an apple pie. You can imagine what the dog wants to do with the apple pie. The way the author / illustrator weaves an alphabet book out of a simple story about a dog wanting to eat a fresh baked pie is awesome. I really like this book for 4 and 5 year olds because there are some really great words and they can anticipate what is going to happen. My son loved it. The vintage inspired illustrations were my favorite, I wanted to frame each page.

Alphabet Playdough – Alphabet For Starters

alphabet for starters no time for flash cards

Introducing children to letters doesn’t have to only use print material especially for the very young. Children learn with all their senses and it’s best to teach them using as many as we can. These simple but valuable introductory activities is what this series Alphabet For Starters is all about. My daughter who just starting to show interest in letters loved this simple sensory activity. We played and played naming letters as we pressed them into the squishy playdough. Try to avoid using this time to quiz your child on their knowledge ( I know it’s hard not to ) instead label what they are doing.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some playdough ( we have great playdough recipes and even a gluten free playdough recipe) and alphabet cookie cutters. alphabet for starters
  2. When starting any activity with a toddler I like to start them ready to play. I gave her a few letters to start and a hunk of playdough pressed flat. alphabet for starters
  3. She started playing and naming letters immediately. She knows a handful of letters but all the ones she doesn’t are named R . I don’t tell her ” NO it’s T! This is T!” I just say something like ” You are pressing the letter T so hard into the playdough.” or ” Look at that yellow T you have.” There is no rush – just play with the letters.alphabet for starters
  4. I was shocked with how long she played – it just went on and on! We grabbed more letters from the bin. alphabet for starters
  5.  I asked her which letters she liked and even though she said A and M she played with R way more than any other letter. It was fun to watch her explore knowing that in an instant she will be reading and writing like her brother. Savoring these simple playdough activities is such a treat. alphabet for starters

Like this activity but you have an older sibling who wants to play too?  Or a child who is already familiar with the alphabet?

Here are a few tasks for them  :

  • Use the cookie cutters to cut out the letters of their names.
  • Give them words to cut out and spell.
  • Guess how many letters they can fit in one hunk of playdough without overlapping the prints.

 

 

Alphabet For Starters – Easy Touch and Feel Alphabet

alphabet for starters no time for flash cards

Make your own touch and feel letters for your littlest learner easily and without breaking the bank. These frugal and educational letters let beginners explore letters through their senses.  Alphabet For Starters is our series of simple activities for children just beginning to explore and learn letters. A great rule of thumb for when to start is when your child starts pointing out letters on shirts, in books or boxes. If they haven’t yet but this they might enjoy it,  try these activities and see if they are interested. If they are engaged  jump in and explore some more,  if they aren’t don’t push. We want letters to be fun, playful and interesting and if we push them on kids that aren’t ready we set up everyone for frustrating experience.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some construction paper , double stick tape ( or glue if you have time to let it dry), scissors, a marker, some materials that have various textures.  We used felt, some sticky back sparkly foam and regular sticky back  foam. I also used some emery boards but they didn’t stick to the double stick tape, and I was going to use some contact paper for sticky but forgot….  The main thing to remember is to have a handful of different textures.
  2. Start by choosing a few letters . I limit the letters only because I want my daughter who is almost 2 to explore them without being overwhelmed.  There is no way she’d go through and explore each at this stage so I only made a handful. If you want to make all 26 letters go for it just follow your child as they explore .
  3. To make the letters I started by cutting some construction paper in two and writing a letter on it. alphabet for starters no time for flash cards
  4. Add double stick tape or glue and stick the felt on. The foam has a self adhesive back so it’s even easier to use. alphabet for starters no time for flash cards
  5. After adding the textured material I cut the letters out .
  6. Added more double stick tape.
  7. And popped it on another sheet of construction paper so they are a little sturdier.
  8. Time to play!  She intuitively started tracing the letters. As she did I narrated a little ” That M is sparkly!” ” Does it feel nice on your finger?”
  9. She loved the squishy foam.
  10. Use descriptive words like, soft, smooth, squishy and of course label the letters as you play.
  11. The sparkly foam made a really scratchy sound and she loved it!alphabet for beginners

For her 6 letters was just the perfect amount. We’ll play with these letters again soon , and slowly switch in new letters as she is ready. Follow your child’s cues if they aren’t able to verbally tell you when they are past the prime learning zone. Once they are visibly less engaged, move on to something new.

Alphabet Books For Beginners

LMNO Peas by Keith Barker is such a cute alphabet book. The only characters are tiny little peas which just happen to be one of my daughter’s favorites foods right now so this was a hit by the letter B. What makes this book such a great pic for beginners is that it’s filled with big colorful letters. The text is a simple listing of jobs and roles for each letter of the alphabet with the peas dressed up as all these things among the huge fun letters. My favorite pea is the one dressed as Elvis , how could you not love a book with a pea dressed as The King? More important than it’s sense of humor is how well my daughter sat and flipped through the pages with me, exclaiming loudly when we got to a letter she knew and still happily engaged when it was one she didn’t.

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. }

Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault  is a fantastic board book and shorter version of the longer book. My kids love this book and it’s the perfect amount of text for a toddler, the illustrations by Lois Ehlert are so bright and bold that even very young babies will respond to it. The text is so melodic I don’t know many who can read it without adding a sing song voice to the reading. I love this book.  A must have for all bookshelves.

Need more alphabet books?  Here are a bunch!

Alphabet For Starters- Easter Egg Letters

Welcome to the first post in our new series called Alphabet For Starters  focusing on simple alphabet activities for beginners. I don’t want to put an age range on these activities because kids become interested in letters at all different ages. Follow their interest and jump on the bandwagon when they are ready. Most importantly have fun with letters and use them together.  Letters are used in so many wonderful combinations and hopefully this series will help popularize the notion that drilling letters is not the first step to learning them and ultimately reading.  We have always believed in playing, creating and making connections with letters and I am excited to start this with my youngest.  This is our first organized activity.

Alphabet For Starters

This activity  is not a new or novel idea but I hope that my tips along the way may make it easier for you and your child to play and learn.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some plastic Easter eggs, some letters that fit inside but are big enough not to pose a chocking hazard, a cute box , some Easter grass and a metal cookie sheet . I use the cookie sheet because the letters are magnetic. It gives my daughter a spot to put them and it keeps us focused and contained. It’s not a must.alphabet for starters
  2. Pop the letters in the eggs. You may notice I am only doing 9 letters. I purposely chose the 9 I did. In the 9 there are 3 letters she has mastered and points out everywhere. This sets her up for some immediate success, which is key for a great first experience. I also have the letters of her name. Using meaningful letters as a jumping off point is a great way to do it. Also I have 2 I have no clue is she knows or not. I will find out if she does, and if not she will be introduced to them gently.alphabet for starters
  3. Put them in the basket and add kiddo in PJ’s.alphabet for starters
  4. As she opened them she put them on the tray and I asked her what was in the egg. She announced some gleefully but if she didn’t know I would say ” Look you got L !” Never drill. Alphabet for starters
  5. After she opened a few I would sneak them off the tray one and a time , refill the eggs and pop them back in. This kept the momentum going without her having to wait for mama to set everything back up, that way only her desire to end the activity ended it. Also it let us reinforce the letters a few times in a fun way.easter literacy activities
  6. After a few times I asked her to point out some letters when they were on the sheet – I didn’t expect her to know any other than A and E ( her favorites) but she did.
  7. And she was so proud – you gotta love that cheer!easter activities for kids

Remember to watch your child. Children just starting to explore letters are sponges but if we put on the pressure too soon we can make them think of it as work not play. So keep things playful and remember that these beginning experiences aren’t going to take up a lot of time but repetition is great so keep the supplies handy and play it again and again .