Mystery Letter Game

When I am working with beginners on reading simple books, I like to do letter-sound warm ups like today’s activity.  But this activity can also be done without a book in hand, just by using your surroundings.

I would simply use an alphabet spinner like the one below, a scattergories dice, or a grab bag of letters (or ABC flash cards) and just have the little ones stick their hand in the bag and pull out a letter….so any of these 3 materials will do.

Then depending on what letter is chosen, ask the little one to name the letter, the sound and to find something in their book that starts with that sound….it can be a word or a picture, but for beginner readers it is better for them to find a picture because then your little one will learn the strategy to use the picture clues to help them figure out the words in a book.

This game can also be played by having your little one look around the room for something that starts with the letter-sound chosen.

A Puppet for Every Letter of the Alphabet

When I teach little ones the alphabet or awareness of the sounds for each letter of the alphabet, I like to incorporate visuals that can represent the letter – like stuffed animals, puppets, or dolls.  Each week that I focused on a different letter I had a stuffed animal or puppet as a mascot for the letter all week.  I would use the puppet to speak for me:  “______ do you see anything that starts with the /_/ sound?”  or the puppet would “help me” introduce the letter by telling the little ones how to make the letter, how to make the letter sound, how to match the uppercase letter to the lower, and how to find things that started with the letter-sound by using the puppet as a clue.

When using a puppet/stuffed animal as a tool, it is easy to grab the attention of a child….even if you feel silly at first.   It also pays off in the long run because it really helps your little one to recall information about the letter and letter-sound based on the memory of the puppet you used to teach about it.  You can write a letter on a small blank card and attach it to the stuffed animal or not.  It can be simple or a little more detail-oriented, but just use your resources and take it one letter at a time.

Initiate the stuffed animal letter awareness by stating something simple like: did you know that your doll’s name starts with the letter “s” and it stands for the sound /s/ like silly, spots, stripes, and soda?  What other things in our house start with the same sound as Samantha?  Maybe Samantha can help us find some other things that start with “s.”

I used a sock puppet snake with some stripes and spots glued to the top as my “s” puppet, because I was given a set of puppets based off of the awesome oldschool books:

Alphabet Stories: Puppets and Picture Stories that Teach Letter Recognition and Sounds (Makemaster Blackline Masters) and Alphabet Puppets: Songs, Stories and Cooking Activities for Letter Recognition and Sounds

They have stories full of alliteration made up about each puppet and DIY puppet making tutorials as well.  “Alphabet Stories” is printables.  “Alphabet puppets” is for all you crafty people who like to sew.

But, you know you….just do what you can do 🙂

Alphabet Hunt

My niece Kaylee and I went on a “date” to my sister’s beauty salon on Friday.  It was “the best date ever” in our words because we went to IHOP, the salon, and my sister’s boyfriend’s Extreme Nutrition afterwards so we had a full day.  Kaylee is five, and she enjoys talking in the car to make the car ride seem shorter so we did do  a lot of that.  But on the way home (a 45 minute ride back) we decided to play the ABC game where you have to find every letter of the alphabet on signs, billboards, license plates, etc. in ABC order.  If I noticed a letter I would describe where I saw it “Look at the second word on that billboard” or “It is at the end of the word on the restaurant sign.”  And each time we would find a letter, I would ask her to figure out what letter we were looking for next.  If she started from the beginning of the alphabet each time I encouraged her to try to start from a later letter in the alphabet to sing the song from there.

We ended up finding every letter, and we found “z” just one street away from my parent’s house so she was beyond excited that we had accomplished our goal.  When we got home we shared our experience with the others and tried to remember where we found certain letters on what signs.  I then noticed that this game did not have to be reserved for long car rides alone….A lot of cereal boxes have every letter of the alphabet on them somewhere.  Even the harder letters to find are on there: “Z” for zinc, “Q” for quality, “X” at the end of the word box.  So spend a morning with a permanent marker and a cereal box and see if you can help your little one find and underline every letter of the alphabet on a cereal box.  There are so many learning experiences to create from scratch if only you are looking for them 🙂

This picture was taken before we headed out, and before she wiped off the marker chaos her two year old sister designed on her leg haha.

Formation Fun with CARS

When I was chatting with my friend about her 3 year old, very active little boy, she told me how hard it can be to sit him down with a writing utensil of any kind.  She often does other tactile (syn. tangible) means of getting him to write like writing in shaving cream or rice, but when I suggested “highway letters” – writing with cars, she printed them right away knowing that he would love this activity! So, here is a link to the Highway Letters  from and this is how I suggest using them:

1)      Print each letter onto cardstock (bought almost anywhere paper is sold…walmart, hobby lobby, etc)

2)      Place them (back to back) in sheet protectors.

3)      Focus on a few letters at a time.

4)      Give them 5 minutes to free play with them first so they get their excitement out.

5)      Show your child how to drive the car along the “A” to make the right formation.  Teach them to “stay on the road”.

6)      Drive the car with your child “Let’s try it together” by holding his/her hand while you do it.

7)      Let your child drive without your help.

For more activity ideas that go along with these letters Click Here!

Make A Name Chart

A lot of children want to know how to write someone’s name. They go around with a pen and paper and ask you how to spell whatever they want to write at the moment. Instead of telling them the letter, give them clues instead: the first letter makes the sound /b/, it is the second letter in the alphabet, it comes after the letter “A”, it starts with the same sound as ball, etc. 

Another way you can help them is to have them reference a Name Chart.  In my classroom, I used to make a Name Chart so that the children could compare the length of their names, the letters in their names, etc.  I would let them write each letter of their name, cut it our, and past it in letter order on the chart.  The children loved to use this to help them write their friend’s names when they drew a picture of their friend. 

But this can also be done in your house as a writing prompt.  Make it as a family and post it in the playroom or your child’s bedroom. 

1. Instead of buying and using a posterboard to display the names and faces just make a word document!

2. Insert a table if you would like to have the “numbers” row; don’t if you dont care for the way it looks.

3.  Insert a picture from a file and crop it until it shows only one face of a family member, friend, or pet.

4.  Ask your child help you find the letters on the keyboard as you type the names beside each picture.

5.  Print it, post it and voila (“there you have it”) a complete work of chART 🙂

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