Tag Archives: Letters

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.

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. :)

Homemade Toy: Playing Mailman

I made a simple mailman activity for my niece to include in her 1 Year old Busy Box (check out #3 on the link).   At her level, it basically included the foam envelopes and a small metal mailbox.  She could open and close the mailbox, lift up the flag, and play the “In and Out” game that ALL 1 year olds seem to love!  I kept wanting to make something similar for J.

 I got the first mailbox at Michael’s Craft Store but haven’t been able to find them since so I decided to make one with a shoebox…  until I came across this mailbox in the Valentine’s clearance section at Target. 

It’s made of cardboard and opens and closes like normal on the side.  It also has a small slit at the top (originally to place valentine’s card inside).  Regular size foam fits perfectly in the slit on top.  I cut the foam envelopes according the the length of the slit and then labeled each with both a mailing and a return “address” and drew a stamp in the upper right. If you wanted, you could use real stickers and have your toddler place the stamp on each envelope. 

I’ve had this activity made for ever, but just brought it out this week.  I’m glad I waited.  Since the foam envelopes barely fit in the mailbox slit, it makes it an appropriately challenging activity for J’s current level.  He has to be very careful to get the foam inside the slit and then he has to work slowly to push the foam envelope down.  Since foam bends if he pushes too hard or moves to fast the long envelopes will just bend over the top of the mailbox instead of falling inside.  It was a GREAT fine motor skill activity for him. 

Lots of concentration going on!!

He got really frustrated at first.  Dad stepped in and showed him how to hold the envelope on the sides with both hands and SLOWLY push it into the mailbox.  From then on he loved it.  He stuck with it for awhile.  The fact that he had to focus so much and was, in the end, able to complete the task tells me he’s at the right developmental level for this.  I’m actually glad the slit was so small.  If I had made one myslef, I wouldn’t have made the slit that small which would’ve made it to easy for him. 

It can also act as a name recognition game… he can “deliver” the envelopes to the correct person (in this case, Mommy, Daddy, and J) or he can just stack them according to name.  When he’s older, I could add more recipients and J could sort them next to the recipients picture.   

He can of course also sort them by color, count the numbe of envelopes each person recieved (or according to color).

Age attempted: 25 months; a younger toddler can insert the mail through a larger slit or through the door on the mailbox.

Here’s the picture of my niece’s Mailman game

Letter of the Day Activities (I day!)

We focused on “I for Ice” today and included some science in our lessons!

Ice Painting: This was how I introduced the letter I to him.  It was a hit. I gave J a piece of paper with both the upper and lower case letter I and we talked about the letter, it’s sound, and then let the LeapFrog fridge phonics toy repeat the letter and sound. We also filled in the block letters with stickers.

 Since “ice” was our I-word for the day, I gave him some homemade popsicles (made from Kool-aid) and showed him how he could paint with them.  I got this idea from the Toddler Busy Book.  Surprisingly, he was so interested in painting that he did not consider eating the popsicles until the very end.  (During this activity, he pointed out that the paper was wet, so I started our science lesson by telling him as the ice gets warm it melts and becomes water)   **You could also use plain ice and construction paper to paint similar to this.

Ice Melting Bags:  This was our science activity that went well with I for Ice day.  I had already made several different colored ice cubes the night before using food coloring.  I had J separate the different colors into sandwich bags and we taped them to the dishwasher so they would be at his eye level.  We described the ice together (cold, hard, heart-shaped in our case).  I opened the freezer door and had him feel inside.  He noticed that it was cold in the freezer.  I told him that ice needed to be kept cold or it would melt, so we kept it in the freezer.  I asked him if he remembered what happens to ice when it gets warm and he did!!  He replied “water!”  By this point our ice bags had already begun to melt, so I had him look for water in the bags.   He was excited to find some in a couple of the bags!  Throughout the afternoon, we kept an eye on our ice bags.  I pointed out that the ice was getting smaller and the water in the bag was increasing.  We talked about the different properties of ice and water.  By dinnertime, he was excited to show daddy his bags (of now colored water) and to tell him that the ice had become water because they got warm.  I got the general idea from  http://www.preschoolrainbow.org/toddler-theme.htm

You could easily turn this into a color mixing activity or get more specific by placing more ice in one bag and noticing how it melts slower this way, discuss why,… 

Ice Blocks - This was a simple activity with really no prep and no clean up.  I gave J a bowl of ice cubes and he built with them…. kind of.  At first we made letters and shapes with them (of course we made the letter I) but as they melted a bit, we could start stacking them to create walls/towers. 

Other things we did:

  • I pulled out all of J’s letter books and had him search for the letter I page.  He then wanted to show his stuffed Pooh all of the letter I’s.
  • I had printed an extra Letter I page (they were big block letters) and I had him fill in the letters with blocks, pompoms, stickers, and paperclips.\
  • It’s raining AGAIN, so I used painter’s tape to write both the upper and lower case letter I on our kitchen floor.  (I reused last weeks triangle tape because painter’s tape can get expensive!!)  Our letter I will stay up all week.
  • He got a popsicle as a special snack (probably his favorite “activity” of the day.  He was VERY engaged while eating his popsicle!

Age attempted: 23 months