I created this alphabet scavenger hunt today because a friend asked me for help with her son, who is in Prek. Like many parents, she is understandably concerned about prepping her child for kindergarten during this school closure. I asked her some things he is into, and when she mentioned bugs, I thought that would be a perfect theme to run with because so many little ones are fascinated by creepy crawly insects, and as winter comes to a close we are going to start to see a lot more bugs around.
I created this alphabet scavenger hunt lesson in a way that can be scaled to fit multiple levels of ability. The bugs have lowercase letters on them. The bug jars have uppercase – this is so the parent can choose to make the activity about uppercase recognition, lowercase, or work on matching the upper and lowercase letters. Do what your child is capable of doing with a tiny bit of help. You don’t want the activity to be too easy, because then you are not providing any challenge and they won’t stay engaged. If it’s too challenging they will get frustrated and quit.
The sweet spot (known to teachers as the zone of proximal development) is when they can do an activity with just a little support. Here are the three ways to use this alphabet bug hunt for letter recognition development.
Prep The Bug Hunt Activity
Gather your materials. You will need the printables ( PRINT HERE), scissors, and if you want, a fly swatter or magnifying glass for dramatic effect.
Start by cutting the bugs out. I am committing to laminating way less this year, and if you are using this at home, there is no need to laminate.
Now you are ready to choose which of the three activities you and your child will do:
Simple Bug Hunt
This is for children that are still learning to recognize lowercase letters. Many children come to kindergarten, knowing all their uppercase letters, but few know lowercase. There is no reason you can’t teach the letters concurrently. I point out to my 3-year-olds how some letters are big, and some are small, they are different sizes depending on the job they are doing. It’s that easy.
For this activity, put the jars aside, no need for those with this hunt. Hide these bugs all over your house. As your child finds them ask them what letter they found. “Molly, you found a blue bug, what letter is it?” ” Is it a k?” “Yes, you found a lowercase k! Let’s find another!”
If your child doesn’t have the stamina to do 26 letters, no biggie! Do ten and celebrate each one. Put them away and play another day again.
Squash That Bug
I really wish I was teaching right now because one of my students would LOVE this. It will have to wait, but here is how you play:
Grab the jar printables with the letters and a hammer or, better yet, a fly swatter. Lay the jar printables on a table face up.
Tell your child that those letters are little bugs, and we are going to squash them. If you are against bug-squashing, make sure you talk about this being pretend and that we don’t really squash bugs. Or grab something like mini erasers or coins to simply cover the letters instead of squashing them, although I will say that won’t be as fun.
Call out a letter.
When your child recognizes the letter, have them squash it by slapping it with the fly swatter or tapping it with a hammer.
It’s simple and entertaining!
Upper & Lowercase Alphabet Scavenger Hunt
This is my favorite way to use these printables, but like both of the previous activities, you can scale it to meet your child’s attention span and ability. The goal of this alphabet scavenger hunt is to match the uppercase letters in the jar with the lowercase letters on the bugs. You might have noticed that the letters in the jar are the same color as the bug, this is a little scaffold to help children as they make the matches.
After you have cut out the bugs, hide them all over your home.
Place the jars in one central place. Remember, you don’t have to use all the jars, but make sure which every jar(s) you do that you have hidden the coordinating bugs.
Find those bugs!
Match them up.
Books About Bugs
Piggyback on the fun had with this activity and read about bugs! Here are some great books about bugs.
If you want more super simple literacy activities like this one that you can use in your early childhood education classroom or at home, you have to check out my newest book Setting The Stage for Rock-Star Readers. It is packed with activities that work and help early educators lay the most robust foundation for literacy as possible for their students.