Teaching letter recognition to children – The Traveling closet

by Mary Ann on June 6, 2011

letter recognition activities picture

Esther and her "textured" letter

Open the Closet doors! Inside are a number of activities, projects, toys, supplies, books and ideas for all the ages of children that you are working with. That is learning magic!

I do not have quite that same opportunity with the Traveling Closet. I choose a topic and then create projects, get books, and have supplies for that one topic for the ages that I will be working with. Last week that posed some unique problems for me.

I had chosen to teach letter recognition to the children. That is defiantly a pre-school/kindergarten age topic. I usually work with a 1 year old, a 3 year old and a 5 year old. Sometimes I have another 3 and 5year old. This is a perfect topic for them. All of my books and ideas were geared for those ages. Then at the last minute I discovered that I was going to have a 10 year old, a 7 ½ year old, another 5 year old and a special needs 4 year old who is also blind. Hmmmmmm. What to do about that?

letter recognition activity image

Marilyn helping Mary, who just wanted to be with us and watch

It was too late to change the topic so how could I create some interest for the older two children so they wouldn’t be left out. I just didn’t have time or resources on hand to do anything special for the 4 year old. I was sad about that. Here’s how the day went.

I pulled out all the books and asked the children what they had in common. There were lots of answers especially from the older two: they all have pages, they all have pictures, they all are books, they all can be read, etc. It took them a while to figure out they were all about the alphabet.

letter recognition activities photo

Jack, grandma, and Esther

Next we played a letter recognition game.I had prepared a set of letter cards, two cards for each letter. That made 52 cards. We used the cards to play Memory. We had a lot of fun and the 10 year old, Christopher, loved this letter recognition game. Towards the end we all just quit taking turns and began hunting for matches as a group. After all 52 cards is a lot of cards. That was it for the Christopher. I didn’t really have anything else that would interest him. He did play an alphabet matching game on Maggie’s Ipad. Ahhh the lure of technology!

I had a huge pile of coloring pages in my Closet from past activities. I found a picture for each letter of the alphabet: crocodile, nest, fish and so forth. We laid out the letter cards showing the full alphabet, in random order. Then I would turn over a picture and we took turns deciding what the picture was, what sound the word made and then finding the correct letter. When we were done with that game everyone got to choose a picture to color. Only the 7 ½ year old and two 5 year olds were into that project. The others looked at books and watched the Christopher play alphabet matching games on the Ipad. By the way, we did have an older girl, Annie aged 13 and an older boy, Jason aged 15 there also. Annie came in and took all our pictures. Yeaaa Annie. Jason read. He was reading Pride and Prejudice. We had a nice conversation about my favorite book, Great Expectations.

I took some heavy paper and drew each persons name on it, making the first letter of the name a large block letter. Then we filled them in with beans to make a textured letter. The lure of the glue was strong and all the younger children did this project except for Christopher.

textured letter picture

Jack's "textured" letter

This project actually calls for making balls of tissue paper, which I didn’t have on hand. Tissue paper would work better, not so heavy to hang up! (See directions below)

pipe cleaner craft pictures

Our Alphabet creation

Next we did a craft with pipe cleaners. I had taken four sheets of black construction paper and taped them together to make one large sheet. Then I gave the children a package of pipe cleaners to form into the letters of the alphabet. The 7 ½ year old and the 5 year olds were the most excited about that project and stayed the whole time to finish it. However, the smaller children got excited when it was hung up and they could point out the letters. This was a fun way to teach children letters.

As usual I had letter recognition work sheets. Worksheets are Maggie’s favorite and this time was no exception. The other 5 year old and the 7½ year old each did one. Everyone likes playing school. : )

pipe cleaner letters picture

Thanks to Annie, 13, for taking our pictures

Here are some additional letter recognition activities, ideas and web sites for fun letter recognition ideas.

Alphabet Drawings – A really fun way to use Alphabet letters in a craft is to make people, animals, and creatures out of the letter shapes. Little kids think that this is hilarious. For example, the letter ‘D’ can be made into a ‘Dog’, a letter ‘B’ can be made into a ‘Butterfly’. Of course, they will need help with the craft because they don’t have the drawing skills yet, but they will still learn more about the letter and the sound that it makes. This is a fun way to teach a child the alphabet. See the Curious George book below. It has some good examples of what I am talking about.

Beginning spelling game for older kids – A great idea for older kids is to use caps, buttons, or cardboard again and put letters on all of them. Then the older kids can put the letters together to make words. This is a great way to learn how to spell and read. Or…you can make a Hangman game by using magnets and a baking pan. You can paint a hangman game on the metal…this would make a great travel alphabet game for kids.

The two ideas above came from http://bit.ly/knwmm7 This site has a ton of alphabet craft ideas.

A good source for alphabet letter printables – http://bit.ly/mEk2jS

A good source for alphabet letter printables and alphabet coloring sheets – http://bit.ly/dp4G45

alphabets craft picture

Textured letters

Textured Letters – Decorating a letter with bright colors can help your child to remember it. Choose a letter. Draw it’s shape on a piece of card stock or cardboard. The larger the better. Scrunch up some brightly colored tissue paper into small balls. Cover one side of the card stock with children’s glue and stick on the tissue paper balls. Let the card dry, then punch a hole in the top, thread it with a string and hang it in your child’s bedroom.

Writing tray – Put a layer of rice in a cookie sheet. Good for spelling practice or picture-drawing or practicing ABC’s.

Make letters out of play dough – Write a letter of the alphabet on each index card. Cover each index

play dough letters picture

Play dough letters

card with clear contact paper. Show the child how to roll out “snakes” with the play dough. Use these to make the letter or number shapes on the cards.

Alphabet Match – With this activity, your child matches up the lower case letters written on the clothes pins to the uppercase letters written on the cardboard circle, by clipping the clothespin in the appropriate spot. I loved this game and will make it for another time. Jack will LOVE it.

alphabet matching game picture

The Alphabet Matching game

The four letter recognition activities above came from http://bit.ly/m1ng97

Books I used -

Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H. A. Rey   This is a darling book with wonderful drawings of the letters. Would go perfect with the Alphabet Drawings activity above.

The Bird Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert

Rainbow Fish A,B,C by Marcus Pfister

The Frog Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta

From Anne to Zach by Mary Jane Martin. Maggie LOVED this book!

Do Your ABC’s, Little Brown Bear all about playing the alphabet game all day long. Read the book and then play the game with your child.

frog alphabet book picture

Wonderful pictures and so interesting!

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