Alphabet Wall Mural

For about 3 weeks we’ve been writing on our playroom wall, well on paper attached to the wall. Both my kids, friends who have come by and even my husband and I have contributed to this on going mural.  My daughter loves to write on vertical surfaces and she is just starting to point out letters in books and other print so I figures we could fill both those needs and create a cooperative project for my son and her as well.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some painters tape ( don’t buy the cheap stuff, I did and it’s cheap for a reason), butcher block ( aka craft paper), marker and then the materials to decorate  things like crayons, markers, stickers…
  2. Clear a large wall space, part of the magic of a mural is it’s size so to make a simple project like this super make it big. Hang the paper up.
  3. Write out the alphabet . I thought I had it spaced well but poor little z got almost no space.Alphabet wall mural
  4. Add kids.  Sometimes I ask her to find a letter and color, often I just put the crayon jar on the floor and watch.
  5. We added stickers . My son put them on the matching letter, and directed my daughter where to put them too.  Stickers are great little fine motor exercises especially peeling them off their original sheets.
  6. Now every time we are in the playroom ( many times a day) someone adds something. Not sure how long we will leave it up but for now we are having fun with it. Below is the mural today- check out all the stars on the letter S, it’s my daughter’s favorite word these days!

Alphabet Books

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 Jim Archambault is a fantastic board book with 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!  Of all the alphabet books we have at our house this is the one my daughter who is 19 months grabs the most. She loves the way the text leads whoever is reading it to a sing song voice , especially her brother who practically sings it to her. It’s a great first alphabet book for toddlers.

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.

Fun Pre-Writing Activities Without Worksheets

handwriting for preschoolersLike reading, writing is a process that brings together a bundle of skills that all need to develop in order for your child to write with ease . Below are some of these skills and easy fun activities that help develop them. Worksheets aren’t the only way and certainly not the first step in teaching your child to write. Some children love worksheets and I think no matter what we are teaching our children if we build on what they love half the battle is won, so do not take them away if your kids enjoy them, just add some of these activities below too.

Write on Vertical Surfaces

Yes writing on the wall is a good thing, hopefully that marker is washable ! The reason for this is because when kids write on vertical surfaces like walls, chalkboards, and easels their wrists naturally bend back in the proper form for writing.You can :

*Make Your Own Chalk Board

*Write On The Wall with a Mini Mural

Fine Motor Skills

While writing my craft tutorials I often tag things as a fine motor activity because many crafts offer great fine motor practice.  Fine motor skills start in infancy while picking up finger food to eat but practice is so important as children learn to write. To encourage the proper grip you can try giving your child a small broken piece of crayon, it’s tiny size naturally encourages the proper grip. Also you can use up those tiny pieces! Thanks Teri for the suggestion.Practice doesn’t have to be work. You can :

*Have fun lacing and beading
*Make marshmallow and toothpick house
*Lock and Key Match

Develop Hand , Arm and Wrist Strength

In order to work the way they want them to your child’s body needs to develop and just like we work out our bodies to work the way we want them to, for endurance and strength. To build strength you can :

*Climb and Play On Playground equipment ( especially monkey bars, climbing walls)
*Use Spray Bottles To Paint
*Cutting - Yes I mean Scissors.  Don’t worry they don’t need to be sharp.
*Ripping is great too.
*Use tongs instead of your hands to pick things up in sensory tubs.

Hand Eye Coordination

I don’t think this section is given the status it deserves, hand eye coordination is so important and usually the part of the equation that frustrates my beginning writer the most. To work on these skills you can:

*Throw to a target – like we did with our Angry Birds Game.
*Hammer Golf Tees in like a pro!
*Sort things with tools , pour liquid into containers at a Water Table or while cooking with an adult in the kitchen.

More Pre-Writing Letter Awareness

This is the playing with letters, learning their shapes , and understanding their general purpose. You can :

*Make letters out of playdough and draw them in sugar.
*Make Letter Crafts to introduce and play with letters.
*Play Letter Games like memory , fishing games and letter hunts.
*Read.  Yes reading with your kids will help them with writing. So grab a book !

There are many strategies to help kids get a grasp on writing , these are just a few. Try not to push your young child, usually when they push back it’s because they aren’t ready for what you are pushing, so try a new approach.  Writing is a process and kids develop at different rates. Have fun with it and do not stress about what the kid next door is doing or what your mom says you were doing at your child’s age .