Pebble’s goal for the year is to learn to write and she’s been really keen to practice her letters. We’ve been practising lots of sounds and learning how to write them. One day I set up a bunch of different letter writing stations for her to practice the letter of the day. Now we set them up whenever she’s in the mood to practice. You can set them up easily at home too.
Multisensory Letter Writing Practice
Pipe cleaner letters
Make letters using pipe cleaners. Children might use one pipe cleaner to make each letter, or join pipe cleaners together.
Play dough letters
Make letters by shaping and rolling dough. This helps to strengthen little fingers and hands, as well as learning the letter shape.
Write letters using fingers in salt. We used a small plastic container with a piece of coloured paper sticky taped to the bottom. This helped the letter to stand out clearly when it was traced in the salt. If you don’t have a salt tray try getting outside and tracing letters in the dirt or sand pit.
Children use different coloured markers to trace over the letter repeatedly, until they have made a rainbow. You could also paint rainbow letters with water colours.
Giant air letters
- Practice tracing letter shapes as large as you can in the air using one hand.
- Swap hands and trace letter shapes in the air as large as you can in the air again.
- Clasp both hands together and trace more giant letter shapes in the air.
Write letters on a mini whiteboard or blackboard using chalk or whiteboard markers. We have this fancy light up board that Pebble got for her birthday. It’s called a Multi Flash Lights Writing Pad and Australian readers can buy one for just $8 at Kmart (not sponsored).
Pebble letters for Pebble! Children shape the letter out of pebbles or dried beans. For children who are struggling to form the shape you could draw it underneath first so that they may trace it.
All of these activities are also great for older children who are practising their spelling words.
- make sure children have correct pencil grip when writing using pencils, markers or other writing tools. Here’s a great video for teaching children pencil grip:
- model the correct letter formation again and again, and provide lots of templates for tracing and practising.
- make it into a game and have fun!
Do your children love practising their letters? Or is it like pulling teeth?
Want more fun ideas for kids? Just download your copy of the Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook. Watch the 30 second video and buy your copy now or find out more.
Way back when, before I had TWO kids, Pebble and I spent an afternoon making and playing with this board game, and came back to revisit it again and again. It was a lovely activity to do together and gave lots of opportunities for learning.
How to make a board game:
We started by drawing a map of places that Pebble knows – home, Grandma’s, the shops, the park. She told me what she wanted to draw and asked me to help her draw it. It was when she was going through a “you do it” phase, so lots of the drawings are mine. Pebble drew the ‘stop sign’ – she was very interested in road signs at the time. We used a small square of foam and some dot stickers to make a toddler friendly die representing 1, 2 and 3. You could use a regular six sided dice with older children. Once the map was made we took turns rolling the dice and moving our game pieces around the board. You can use anything for a game piece – we used these gorgeous crayons which have been lots of fun during play and art sessions.
- turn taking
- following rules
- connecting real life experience to play
- make a board game based on a favourite book, movie or song
- make a snakes and ladders style game
- create directions along the path of the board game that encourage children to move and pretend, such as “jump like a kangaroo” or “wobble like a jelly”.
What type of board game would your children like to make?
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Recently Pebble’s Grandma travelled interstate to visit family, and we had the great pleasure of picking her up from the airport when she returned home. Grandma didn’t know that Pebble and I were going to be there – it was a bit of a last minute decision and a lovely surprise. We were both very eager to see her, we had missed her lots and lots! To prepare for her arrival I made this quick little DIY Letter Puzzle for Pebble, which became the ‘Welcome Home’ sign for Grandma at the airport.
Pebble has been very keen to learn about letters and words lately. She points to print everywhere in her environment and wants to know what it says. She loves to spot her own first initial, and is also getting good and spotting the initials for mum and dad. This DIY Letter Puzzle gave Pebble a chance to practice what she already knew about letters, and to learn about some new letters too. Even if she didn’t know the letter name or sound for all of them, she still enjoyed matching up the letter with the correct shape on the page.
DIY Letter Puzzle
You will need:
- self adhesive foam letters
- coloured paper
- a lead pencil
- Go through the letters and select the ones that you need to create the puzzle.
- Place (not stick) the letters on the page in the order that they need to go, and trace around each letter to leave an outline on the page. Your puzzle is ready to use!
- Introduce the puzzle to your child. As our puzzle was quite large and included many letters and three words, I started by breaking the puzzle up into three parts – introducing the letters for each word separately. If you have a smaller puzzle (ie. the child’s name) you could introduce all the letters at once.
- Talk about the shapes of the letters as you search for the right one to make a match. Are they tall? Curly? Short? Straight? Do they have a ‘tail’? Practice saying the sound that each letter makes. Talk about the order that they go in. Include more or less detail, depending on the age and interest of your child.
- Help your child to peel and stick each letter on, if needed. Don’t worry about the finished product, let them explore and give it a go. Some letters may not end up in the right spot, and that’s ok. It’s all a part of the learning process.
- Put the finished puzzle on display (or take it to the airport to meet a loved one!).
Make it meaningful
Making literacy activities like this one meaningful will help your child be more likely to want to be involved, and give them more success with their learning. We had a reason to be making this sign – it was for Grandma! You could try these ideas to make the experience more meaningful for your child:
- create a sign for their bedroom door
- create a birthday card and/or envelope for a friend
- make signs for pretend play (eg. road signs, shop signs)
- create labels for around the home (kitchen cabinets or toy drawers)
- copy the names of their favourite story book titles or characters
- create table mats or place cards for a special dinner
- make personalised book marks
- create an alphabet poster
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Here are ten fun places for kids to practice their alphabet online
Starfall – listen to each letter name and sound, look at upper case and lower case letters and sing the alphabet song, plus lots of other games.
The Bee Game – help the bee find each letter of the alphabet in order and take it back to his hive.
Find the Missing Letter – find the missing letter in a row of three letters in alphabetical order. Handy alphabet on display helps littlies.
Learning Planet – Alphabetical Order – choose which letter comes next in a string of three letters.
Boowakwala Alphabet Game – choose the correct letter from a set of four choices.
Alphabet Antics – help the monkey catch the letter coconuts before they fall to the ground – choose from easy, medium or hard.
Haunted Alphabet – one of my favourites – find the hidden letters in the spooky picture.
Alphabet Bingo – An alphabet bingo game. Choose from Easy, Medium or Hard.
Alphabet Doors – Click on the door to see each letter, a word beginning with that letter and a matching picture.
Alphabet Matching Game – An alphabet memory game. Choose from 6, 8 or 12 cards.
Have you found any awesome alphabet games online? Please share them in the comments below, thanks ever so.