Here is a fun, easy-to-make activity for learning letters. Check out your neighbourhood dollar store for seasonal banners. The two I found are each nearly three feet long. They each have a series of Easter bunnies on them. The first one I prepared, was for children who are learning letters. I added alphabet stickers and laminated it.
Have a child gently grip one end of the banner, close their eyes and say, “Go, go, go, STOP!” As the child says, “Go, go, go,” slide the banner through their fingers. When they say, “STOP,” ask them to open their eyes and read the letter on the nearest bunny. For older children, make it more difficult by asking them to read the letter and say a word that starts with it.
For children who can read, print words on the bunnies. I used the “ot” family for my bunnies and carrots banner.
Borders and trims will also work well. Here are some examples that could be cut and laminated.
For all sorts of printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn letters, be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page.
Follow this link to our Spring and Easter theme printables for preschool and kindergarten
Our early literacy printables, including our learning letters printables are in PDF format, if you don’t already use Adobe Reader, you will need to use it to access the downloads.
Some of our Most Popular Alphabet Recognition Posts
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Z is for Zamboni – A Hockey Alphabet Written by Matt Napier and illustrated by Melanie Rose Hockey alphabet book published by Sleeping Bear Press
If hockey plays a part in your household, this enticing hockey alphabet book will appeal to the entire family. Young children will enjoy the simple rhymes while older children and adults will appreciate the more detailed information bordering the charming illustrations.
When Uncle Jack shares the story of the best hockey card he ever had, we take pleasure in a glimpse of the great Maurice Richard and a schoolyard duel against a tough hockey card shark. This is a book that made a lasting impression in our household – my youngest son is now a 13 year old bantam hockey player and just noticed me working on this post. He remarked, “Now that was a good book.” The Hockey Card at Amazon.com
If you are helping a young child to learn letters, we suggest that using a white board can be a fun way to discover letter shapes
Here’s a white board game that encourages youngsters to think about letter shapes. Begin by drawing part of a letter using a dry erase marker. For example “l” could be part of “B”. “D”, “E”, “F”, “H:, “I”, “K”, “L”, “M”, “N”, and more. Add another “piece of the puzzle” – perhaps a horizontal line ( for “E” or “H”). Continue adding bits of the letter until the correct letter is guessed or revealed. This activity draws attention to the ways letters are alike and different and is played enthusiastically in a group setting.
As an aside, white boards are often very appealing to young learners – and not just those who are learning letters! When mistakes are made, the “evidence” is quickly erased. I’ve found white boards very helpful for reviewing spelling and doing math. Crayola makes “kid friendly” dry erase markers in a variety of colours. I’ve had good success with them and use them in my classes.
It isn’t long before children grow tired of using flash cards as a way to support learning. In my experience, creating games that use dice, markers and spinners is much more fun for everyone. Games also add an element of “chance” – Mom, Dad, younger brother and older sister all have an opportunity to win or lose.
Today’s Consonant Game download is a very simple board game that can be used a number of ways. Roll a die, move the right number of spaces and say the letter name. For an older child, roll a die, move the right number of spaces and say the letter sound or say (or spell) a word that begins (or ends) with the letter. The Consonant Game Board is a fun activity that can be used by several children at different ages and different reading levels.
Consonant Game Board
Use a die and markers, move along the "star" path from one star to another. When you land on a star, say the letter name or say the letter sound or say a word that starts with the letter.
Use wooden or plastic clothespins and a permanent ink pen to create an inexpensive alphabet matching and/or ABC “order” activity, Clothespin Letter Match.
To make your own Clothespin Letter Match, begin by printing one letter on each clothespin. I hold the clothespin in my hand and point the open jaws away from me when I do this. When the activity is complete, have your child “pin” the clothespin to the matching letter or picture.
I’ve made several of these over the years. I particularly like the plastic clothespins because they often come in a variety of colours. One of the activities I made uses four strips of coloured cardstock (four different colours), clothespins in the same four colours and an alphabet border (cut into four pieces). I glue the alphabet border to the cardstock , laminate the cardstock and then print the matching letters onto the clothespins. Using four different colours makes it a manageable activity for young children. Some children will “match” the letters while others will use their knowledge of the alphabet to put the clothespins in ABC order. Either way, it is an alphabet recognition activity with the added bonus of using fine motor skills to manipulate the clothespins successfully.
This is very similar to the alphabet border I used for the clothespin letter match activity.
An inexpensive beach ball and a permanent marker are all you need to make this fun learning game. Inflate the beach ball and use the marker to print uppercase or lowercase letters all over the ball. Underline each letter so there is no confusion between “M” and “W” or “p” and “d.” Toss the ball and have the person who catches the ball say the letter name closest to or under one hand. If the child knows the letter names, make the game trickier by asking for the letter sound or a word that begins with the letter.
Note: For printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn the alphabet. be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page.
This week our six posts will each provide activities for helping a young child to learn the alphabet, including matching uppercase and lowercase letters.
Today we are providing two free alphabet printables in PDF format. Each PDF has a grid and twenty-five letters (X is missing). One grid has uppercase letters (capital letters), the other has lowercase letters (small letters).
Print each of the PDFs onto coloured cardstock. If you wish, decorate one PDF with colourful stickers. We used Stickopotamus Tropical Fish to decorate ours.
Noticing subtle differences in a Spot Seven bookor hidden items in I Spy picture books, will ultimately help your child to differentiate between a N and a M or a d and a b.
For many preschool-aged children, there are ample opportunities to learn to recognize the alphabet. In the environment, STOP signs, SAFEWAY signage and license plates all expose youngsters to the world of print (especially uppercase letters). Alphabet books, wooden puzzles and magnetic letters abound. As adults, it can be tempting to approach alphabet recognition as a paper and pencil or workbook-based activity but there are many more ways to help our children learn to differentiate letters. Especially with children who like tactile experiences (i.e. exploring the world through touch), let’s be adventurous. Spray some shaving cream in a pan and let your child practice her printing or “build” letters with Lego or K’Nex. In addition, whether at home or away, draw your child’s attention to how letters are alike and different. Noticing subtle differences in a Spot Seven bookor hidden items in I Spy picture books, will ultimately help your child to differentiate between a N and a M or a d and a b.
Spot 7 School created by Kidslabel Picture Riddle Book published by Chronicle Books
in this series, readers are shown two pictures and are challenged to find seven differences. In Spot 7 School the pictures are of classrooms, a playground and a hallway in addition to a science lab, gymnasium, etc. Afternotes provide clues for those who can’t find all of the differences.
I Spy a Spooky Night riddles by Jean Marzollo and photographs by Walter Wick Picture Riddle Book published by Scholastic
In our household, I Spy Spooky Night was always a favourite. There is nothing mysterious about the fact that dark, eerie pictures grab the attention of youngsters. “Okay now, who can find the hidden padlock, a chain and a broken bone?” It’s bone-chilling fun to spend time noticing small details and differences. Great for children aged four years and up.
A scarecrow, a key, a clothespin, a clock,
Two bowling pins, and KNOCK, KNOCK KNOCK!
Learning the Alphabet Could Include Using a Letter Bag With Your Child
An important step in learning to read is for children to name and quickly recognize letters. As part of learning the alphabet, we will draw a child’s attention to how letters are alike and how they are different. We will encourage children to notice that letters are made up of straight lines (“T”) and curvy lines (“S”) and a combination of the two (“B”). We point out that letters can be very different (“T” and “O”) or very alike (“N” and “M”).
As adults, we tend to think of learning the alphabet as a visual activity (i.e. using books, pencils and paper) but children can also learn to notice how letters are alike and different by using their sense of touch and by actively exploring the letters. When we use a letter bag, we introduce “tactile or Kinaesthetic” learning – learning the alphabet by doing and touching.
I made my own letter bag from a bright, colourful fabric print. If you don’t need yours to be durable, a paper bag will work equally well. I used four or five wooden letters that I purchased at a dollar store, you could use foam or wooden letters from a puzzle or magnetic letters from under your fridge! Try to find letters that are relatively “simple.” For this activity, a basic letter, without embellishment is best.
The letter bag and letters are intended to be used by an adult and a child (or children) together. Ideally, the adult begins by talking about the shapes and attributes of four or five letters before putting them in the bag. Point out how the letters are alike and how they are different. Name the letters. Once the child knows about the letters, put them all in the bag. Have the child reach into the bag (no peeking) and then ask her to see if she can find a particular letter. As she feels the letters, the adult can talk about the attributes of the letter that the child is trying to find.
For an older child, who knows letter sounds, the adult could say the letter sound and have the child find the right letter in the bag.
Please note: my experience has been that some children find this way of learning the alphabet relatively easy while others will pull all four letters out of the bag before they find the one they are looking for. As adults, we need to be patient and understand that children have different learning styles and the best thing we can do is to offer all sorts of ways for children to discover and learn.
As adults, we tend to think of reading, learning to read and learning to write as a book-based or pencil-based exercise. Keep in mind that children learn in a variety of ways and providing tactile* experiences is one way to help your child to learn letters of the alphabet kinesthetically.
As part of the letter-learning experience, try the following…
Encourage your child to build letters. She could use Lego,K’nex,Tinkertoy,Craft Sticks, or Pipe Cleaners. Building letters will help your child to notice how letters are alike and different. It will help your child to notice that letters can be round or straight – or a combimation of round and straight.
Have your child make letters in sand, mud or shaving cream. Drawing the alphabet in thick, interesting textures will add an extra dimension to the learning process.
Use Masking Tape or Sidewalk Chalk to make giant letters in side or outside. Walk, hop or skip the alphabet. Movement is another way to reinforce learning and it’s fun!
Have your child sort magnetic (or other 3-D) Letters. Make three groups: letters that are made up of only straight lines (M,X,I), letters that are made up of only curvy lines (S,O,C) and letters that are made up of a mix of straight and curvy lines (B,D,J). An alphabet sorting activity like this can be done long before children know letter names or sounds.
Remember, children learn in a variety of ways. Providing tactile* experiences makes for fun play and an opportunity to boost letter recognition.
Note: For printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn the alphabet. be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page.
Having an alphabet book (or two, three or four!), is one way to make your home literacy-friendly. Today I will look at five diverse alphabet books… Just looking at the titles and cover art gives us a hint of the broad range of style and content that alphabet books can encompass.
Do Your ABC’s, Little Brown Bear written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Margie Moore Alphabet Book published by Puffin; Reprint edition
Beginning with Do Your ABC’s, Little Brown Bear we discover a way to help a child learn her alphabet. On a walk with Papa, Little Brown Bear looks for things that begin with each letter of the alphabet. I enjoyed the sweet interaction between Papa and Little Brown Bear. It is hard to imagine any family sharing the book without embarking on their own alphabet exploration. Appropriate for children aged three and up.
Northern Lights A to Z will appeal mainly to older children (aged five and up) particularly those who have a special interest in the night sky or legends. Beautifully illustrated, the author seamlessly mixes science and myths and shares her knowledge in an engaging, accessible format. I can still remember the emotions I felt when I saw the aurora borealis. This special alphabet book captures the extraordinary experience beautifully.
A Is for Africa features gorgeous photographs of people and things found in south-eastern Nigeria. Best for children aged five and up, I was struck by the author’s respectful tone and the way her photographs draw us into the atmosphere in the community. Although written in an alphabet book format, one can easily imagine an older child using this book to learn about life in an African village.
C is for Caboose written and illustrated by Traci N. Todd Alphabet Book published by Chronicle Books
When my boys were young, books about trucks and trains were very much “top of the charts” as far as they were concerned. C Is for Caboose features a mix of bright, bold illustrations and archival photographs. This will appeal most to children who are already fascinated by rail travel and enjoy historical photographs.
For older children (aged six and up), Stargazer’s Alphabet is “out of this world.” Featuring fabulous photographs of the Milky Way, Jupiter, Mars and more, this book uses a terrific format to its best advantage. Large pages each feature a rhyme: “V is for Venus, a lovely dazzling disk“, a factual paragraph plus photos, maps and diagrams. Great for families where the youngest child can enjoy the rhyming text and older children (and adults) can read detailed explanations. Featuring a glassary and the author’s thoughts on space, the breadth of the material covered will make this a valuable family resource for many years.
If your refrigerator is dotted with magnetic letters, you’ll want to try one or more of these activities with your child…If your fridge is not covered with magnetic letters – a tray and plastic letters should work fine.
Ask you child to sort the letters by shape: those with curvy lines (letters S, C, etc.) , straight lines (letters H, I, K, etc.) and a mixture of curvy and straight lines (letters B, D, P, etc.) This will draw your child’s attention to how letters are alike (and different)
Play ‘I Spy With My Little Eye.’ Give your child clues: ‘I spy a letter that has just one curvy line and no straight lines.”
Use the magnetic letters to print a word on the fridge. Ask your child to point to the first letter in the word and name it, the middle letter in the word and so on. Once you have talked about the word, scramble the letters and have your child put them back together in the right order.
Ask your child to put the letters in ABC order or redro sdrawkcab CBA .
For a child who is reading three and four letter words, use the magnetic letters to print a word like ‘CAT.’ Substitute other consonants at the beginning of the word (B,F,H,M,P,R,S) or at the end of the word (B,N,P,R). Nonsense words are okay, too. Ask your child to read each of the new words.
For a child who is reading three and four word sentences, have your child read a sentence and then scramble the letters or the words. Have your child put it back together in the right order.
Challenge your older child to solve a melubj (jumble).
I’m sure there are many more ways to play and learn with magnetic letters. Please share your ideas!
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