Category Archives: Letters

Letter Puzzles (and on sale!)

I was just doing some birthday shopping and noticed a sale on one of our favorite learning tools.  I thought I’d hop on here to share real quick.

Nab ItI came across Nab-It in the store about a year ago and it has been such a valuable tool.  It is actually a game but I honestly have not even read the instructions and haven’t yet played the game as intended. I’ll get around to learning that soon hopefully.  We’re having enough fun with the pieces right now.

The game consists of 4 sets of letter puzzles, each a different color and each in their own drawstring bag. Each puzzle piece has a letter on both sides. Your little one will get used to looking on both sides for the desired letter. We have used them to practice the alphabet, spelling words, word families, and blends.

Amazon has Nab-It for sale right now.  If you’re in the market for a fun preschool tool that will double as a fun game when your little one is older, this would be great!

**photos from Amazon**

Homemade Sunbleached Puzzles

I came across this brilliant idea for sunbleached puzzles.  They were so easy to create and great entertainment (and practice) for a puzzle-lover. It was also a great little lesson in the sun’s effects.

I set out foam bath letters and numbers on dark construction paper and left them to sunbathe awhile on the deck.  J enjoyed watching the process, impressed by the magical results! We then brought it all inside to start putting it all together.  You can make this activity more difficult by adding extra foam letters to the choices.

This is great practice at letter recognition.  It’s also great way to help them learn how to spell their name, memorize their phone number or address. 

The link above used magnetic letters and shape blocks to create their puzzles.  You could also cut your own shapes out of colorful foam.

Fun Bubble Wrap “Exam”

This activity is great for so many ages.  Who doesn’t love bubble wrap!!  I must admit that I even still love popping the bubbles just like my 3 year old.  This is also a great way to trick your child into showing off what they know, without them realizing what you’re up to.

Prep:  All you need is a sheet of large bubble wrap and permanent markers.  I filled in the bubbles with numbers, words, shapes, and letters. 

 During the activity: I called out something on the sheet and J found the correct bubble to pop.  Simple as that.  I will say that he did have some trouble popping some of the bubbles so about half-way through, I pulled out a toothpick and let him pop them bubbles that way.  He thought this was just as fun (probably because he doesn’t get to play with toothpicks too often).

You could adapt this for any age to practice whatever they are currently learning from colors and shapes to addition or multiplication, rhyming or grouping.

Age attempted: 3 years

**ETA: I came across the blog where I originally found the idea.  Check out The Activity Mom’s version**

Dot Marker Phonetics

I had the dot markers out this week.  I remember thinking these markers were so expensive and wondering if they were worth it.  Well, in our house they’ve gotten lots of play time and J still loves them.  They were some of the first markers that I let him use actually (see J’s autumn tree here).   

I made up this quick color sheet for J to use with the markers.  He had to match the sound of each letter (or object) to it’s corresponding color.  So he painted a green guitar, a purple panda, etc.  I had him match the sounds and make a guess first, then he could check his answer by looking at the color names written on the marker to see if he was correct.  He actually really enjoyed this activity and thought he was basically just coloring.  He had no clue he was learning too :) 

Here’s the before (the pictures are just clip art):

Here’s the after:

 Age attempted: 34 months

 

Sticker Igloo

This igloo craft was a lot of fun to make and I think it turned out really cute too!

 

What you need:  blank label stickers (I actually used mailing labels and cut them down to size), construction paper, scissors, glue, black marker

What you do:  Have your little one build a wall on the construction paper, using the labels.  Once they’re finished, turn the paper over and draw a semi-circle on the back.  Either have them cut out along the line, or you do the cutting for them.  To create the door, cut out a second semi-circle and have them color a black door, then glue on top of the larger piece.  After gluing his igloo together, he added some snow to his picture. 

This was honestly supposed to go with a winter unit I was going to do with J… but 3rd trimester exhaustion has set in so the unit didn’t happen.  I ended up cutting out the upper and lower case letter I, letting him fill those in with “ice blocks” and decided reinforcement learning was enough this day!  J was quite proud of his final work of art. 

This idea is from the Frugal Family Fun Blog.

My Little Helper: Grocery Label list (or fun scavenger hunt)

My cousin recommended this idea after seeing J’s grocery list on this post (My Little Helper: Grocery Shopping) and we finally tried it out at the store.

Prep: I did a quick search for some of the logos of items on my grocery list, copy and paste and I’m done.  The internet makes this so simple and quick!

I didn’t pull it out at the grocery store until I knew we were about to start hitting the items on the list so basically we’d already gone through produce and meats.  J’s list also did not include everything on my list.  It was funny how he immediately knew what certain items were when I handed him the list.  Like he knew that the Yoplait logo meant yogurt or the Lactaid logo was milk. This not only keeps them busy while shopping, it was also great practice with word recognition and letter recognition.   

J really liked this, even better than the other grocery lists honestly.  I think it helped too that I gave him a highlighter to check off his list rather than the normal crayon or pen :)

For younger ones, I would put the items in the order that you’ll reach them in the store. Another thing that works well is to fold the list in half or in thirds so they are just looking at a few items on the list at a time. 

You could use this as a scavenger hunt rather than a grocery list that kids would love (which means they’re focused while you shop!).  And this would actually make the list even easier to create since it wouldn’t matter which items you included.

Age attempted: 33 months

Twizzler Writing Valentines Card

Here’s the card J made one of his cousins for Valentines Day.  It was actually a fun way to practice letters.  We’ll probably reuse this activity some other time. 

What You Need: Pull and Peel Twizzlers, Glue, Cardstock, pencil

Prep: I actually precut for the Twizzlers for him and already had the message written in pencil on the cardstock for him. 

He traced the letters with glue and then added the Twizzlers.  After awhile he got tired of gluing, so I took over that part.  To incorporate some learning, I asked him how many long/short pieces were needed for each letter prior to gluing.  We also had lots of opportunities to repeat the words verticle and horizontal.  He then added some math practice of his own as he decided to pattern the heart stickers and later the heart twizzler shapes. 

I did help him on the spirals since it was a little too intricate for him to do alone.  They’re supposed to be flowers, but J thought they looked like lollipops.  Either one works!

Age: 34 months

Snacktime Numbers and Letters

This isn’t flashy and I’m even a bit embarassed to show this activity.  BUT it’s a good way to incorporate some extra practice into your day.  No need to get extravagant to teach a toddler! You really can’t get any easier than this and your little one will love it.   

We had some leftover Cheez-it from a Sunday school activity, so I brought it home and put it to good use.  I figured it doesn’t provide much nutritional value so I might as well get some education value out of it!

We’ve used it for counting practice.  I called out a number and he had to find the cracker with that many dots to eat.

We’ve used it for letter practice.  I set up a column of upper case letters and a column of lower case letters and he matched them together.  I then called out a letter sound and he got to eat that letter. 

You could easily introduce numbers or letters this way or of course practice shapes and size too. 

Age attempted: 2 years; can certainly be done earlier

4th of July Activities in action (part 1)

So today we did the first few activities from my 4th of July list.  I thought if we’re gonna celebrate Independence day, he needs to know a little more than red, white, and blue :)  So we started with the country we live in.  My goal was for him to recognize the map of the U.S., know that he lived there (and maybe even pinpoint the location on the map), know our country’s name (shortened to USA since he is a toddler!) and recognize our flag.  Too much?  I figured it doesn’t hurt to try.  There is no test in the end, so we succeed no matter what.  And I’m a former history teacher, so we’re stepping into mommy’s interests!

1. Introduction to U.S. map – I found a dry-erase map of the U.S. in the dollar section at Target and finally put it to use.  I explained that it was a map of the U.S., we traced around the borders with the dry-erase marker (his first time to use one and he thought it was cool!).  I then explained that this was where we lived.  We drew a dot there and I set a small picture of our family next to the dot (I use pics a lot to help him visualize).  I then put a dot where J’s grandparents live and we placed a small picture of them next to the spot.  I  drew dashes to connect the two spots and pulled out J’s toy airplane to show how we fly back and forth to visit.  He connected the dashes (kinda) to create a line between the two spots and then just drew all over the map!  At some point he noticed that the backside had a map too and wanted me to point our home and Grandpa’s home out once again.  When dad got home that night, I brought the map back out and J was excited to show off where everyone lived and how we fly from one place to the other.   

**I’m excited to go back to the map some time in the future and learn where other close family members live, but for now I thought 2 was enough!

2. U.S. poster (letters, flags, and map) – I printed out a simple map of the U.S. and we again labeled where we live as well as J’s grandparents.  I had some USA stickers that he placed on the paper, allowing me to emphasize our country’s name.  Then I let him glue a few printouts of the U.S. flag on the page too.  My goal was for him to start connecting the three (map, name, flag) together. 

3. U.S.A. letter activity – I wrote down USA at the top of the paper and he used that as a model to glue letter printouts in order.  It was the first time I’ve introduced the letters U and S, so it was a lot at one time.  It really became practice in following directions for him more than anything. 

**We taped both #2 and #3 activities on the front door so that there will be lots of opportunities to review.

 

4.  Decorated the flower bed with U.S. flags

5. Decorated the storm door with 4th of July gel stickers

Each rectangle looked something like this

6.  Counting stars and stripes - We’ve been focusing no the number 3 recently, so I included some stars and strips in our counting practice.  We have some sliding doors that have molding throughout to create multiple rectangles in the windows (that’s the best way I can think to explain it, I’m sure lots have something similar).  I taped the number 3 inside one of the rectangles and then had J place 3 stars and 3 stripes inside each rectangle.  We used gel stickers for the stars and I just cut the stripes out of red construction paper prior to the activity.

All the activities combined probably took a grand total of 30 to 40 minutes tops (with the exception of #5 and #6 which were done a few days prior).  They were all spaced out throughout the day rather than all back to back. 

Age: 26 months

Practicing Letters with Father’s Day Cards

This idea came to me as I was getting out construction paper for J to make his Great Grandpa a card to send in the mail.  I got the materials ready in a matter of minutes while J waited patiently :)  It’s certainly not a flashy card, but it offered great reinforcement with his letters and J enjoyed creating it.

PREP: I wrote out a message on the construction paper, leaving out the first letter of each word.  I placed in its stead (is that how you use that word??) an empty box so that J knew where the glue (and letter) should go.  Then, with another color of paper, I wrote the missing letters and cut them out. 

With J:  I set out all the missing letters along with some glue and the actual card in front of him.  We started with the first word of the message (_appy); I pointed out that this was a word but it was missing the first letter.  I said the word, emphasizing the H sound and then told him he needed to added the letter H to finish the word.  He would search out the correct letter and glue it in place.  **One of the tv shows he gets to watch a few times each week is Word World where they build words to create the different characters and props for the show.  J has been pushing letters together ever since, claiming he created a word like on the show.  This activity really just put into practice what he saw on tv.**   

He finished all the words in the message, added the hearts, stickers and a drawing on the card.  It’s really a simple card, but it was a great way to emphasize the letter sounds and reinforce the letter names.  In fact, I discovered that he knows the letter Y, something I personally haven’t taught him. 

As I was picking up, I realized that I could’ve used letter stickers instead of having to write and cut out the letters. That would’ve made for even less prep for the activity. 

Age: 26 months

Future Use: I think next time I will use this as a way to test his knowledge of the letter sounds.  Instead of giving him the name of the letter along with the sound, I will just ask him to find the letter that makes the sound “sss”…

This would also be a good plane activity, but I would definitely use stickers rather than glue on the plane. :)