There can be a lot of pressure on parents to teach toddlers and preschoolers letter names, sounds and even how to read and write and it can be overwhelming to plan activities that are fun and educational! While there are many fantastic apps for young children, the amount of screen time can become a factor. Here are some literacy based activities that are appropriate for children who are learning letter names and sounds. I hope you and your child are inspired to learn and play together!
Alphabet Playdough Mats
I think every child loves play dough, right?! This is one of my favorite activities inspired by This Reading Mama. It combines fine motor skills with letter learning and is easy to prepare and clean up.
- play dough
- construction paper
To begin, write out each letter of the alphabet on the construction paper. Have your child shape the play dough to cover each letter. Talk about the letters such as “B is for bat, ball, boy” and “I notice the V, W, X and Y all have straight lines.”
Letter Scavenger Hunt
My kids love having scavenger hunts throughout our house, we hide small objects in a room and then search for them together. This activity was inspired by Jamie at Hands On As We Grow. It is well worth your time to look through her website as she has an incredible amount of fun, easy and hands on activities for children.
- 1-2 sets of letters (we used our magnetic letters and magnet board)
Begin by hiding one set of letters throughout a room. Place the other set of letters in an easy spot for your child to refer to. He or she should look for one letter at a time. Once a letter is found, have your child come back to the complete set and find the corresponding match. This activity helps letter recognition but also reinforces counting practice. I would say “How many letters have you found?” or “How many more letters to go?” Be sure to have your child say the letter as it is found, such as “I found the T,” or “You found the letter T. What starts with T?” The more you are talking about the letters, the more their little brains are soaking it all in!
This is something that I came up with on my own when my oldest was a toddler and I was doing a lot of traveling alone with him. I needed engaging activities to keep him busy on airplane rides to visit my family. I decided to cut up photographs into equal parts so that he could put them back together like a puzzle. Store these in a ziploc bag making it easy to toss into your purse when you are on the go.
- wide popsicle sticks
To prepare this activity, cut the photographs into equal strips and glue each strip to the popsicle stick. Write a letter on the bottom of each stick. Or spell out a word. The possibilities are endless with this activity.
Once this is done, have your child put together the puzzle. Talk about how the letters can help figure out the correct order. Review the order, spell the word, just talk about the words and the pictures and you will have had yourself some quality literacy based conversation.
Supplies and Storage
My advice is to figure out an organization system that works for you and your children so that these activities are easy to pull out and play with. I try to make a special trip to the dollar store or craft store a few times a year just to stock up on supplies to create at home learning activities. Then I usually store each activity in a ziploc bag and label each bag. Finally, I keep the bags in plastic containers and label each container (counting activities, letter activities, fine motor). I store everything on some shelves in our playroom. It works for us and that is what is important!