Creative Ways to Learn the Alphabet
1 Make Your Own ABC Window Clings
Window clings are an excellent alternative to magnetic letters. They can be used on any smooth surface, and cling wonderfully to a sliding glass door, mirror, or even the car window on a long car trip. There is no need to buy expensive clings, as they are easy to make at home. Glow in the dark paint is available, which makes these window clings wonderful for nighttime use or dark car rides.
- Wax paper
- Dimensional paint, such as Tulip
Lay out the wax paper and carefully pipe the paint into letter shapes. Allow the paint to dry, remove from the wax paper, and have fun making words and learning letter names!
Clothespin ABC Game
2 Clothespin ABC Snappers
A fun craft turns educational when the alphabet is incorporated into the project. Make ABC "snappers" out of clothespins: an alligator's mouth will open to reveal the letter "A," and a whale contains the letter "W." Let your imagination go wild and create a fun snapper for each letter of the alphabet.
- Hinged clothespins
Color and cut an animal shape out of card-stock. Cut the shape in half, and glue one half of the shape to the top part of the clothespin, and the second half to the bottom. On the back side of the clothespin, glue the appropriate letter (either cut a letter out of cardstock or use pre-cut foam letters). When the glue dries, open the clothespin to reveal the letter!
Clothesline ABC Game
A great game for very young children is the "Clothesline" ABC game. This game can be used to teach letter recognition, rhyming, and reinforce early reading concepts.
- Children's socks (even number - 26 pairs will be needed for the basic ABC game below)
- Masking tape
Instructions (Basic ABC Recognition game):
Separate the socks into pairs. Place a strip of masking tape onto each sock and label each pair of socks with an upper-case letter, until you have 26 pairs of socks labeled AA, BB, CC, etc.
Place one set of the alphabet socks on a "clothesline" (the yarn) with clothespins, strung at a height the child can reach. Place the remaining, matching socks into a box or small basket. Have the child take a sock from the basket and label the letter for the child: "Oh, you found the letter F! Can you find the other letter F on the line?" Have the child hang the sock next to its matching partner on the clothesline.
- Upper and Lower Case Letters: Label one sock with an upper case letter, and label the matching sock with a lower case letter. Have the child match the upper and lower case letters on the clothesline.
- Rhyming words: Label each pair of socks with rhyming pictures, such as cat and rat, car and star, fox and box. Use clip-art if necessary, and apply the pictures with double-sided tape or looped masking tape. Place one set of rhyming words on the clothesline, and have the other set in a box. Have the child match each sock with its rhyming partner.
- Early reading skills: Label each pair of socks with a written word-picture combination. For example, label one sock with the word "cat" and the other sock with a picture of a cat. Hang the set of written words on the line and place the socks with pictures in a basket. When the child draws a picture-sock out of the basket, have him hang it next to the matching written word on the line.
3 ABC Fishing Game
Letter and Word Fishing Game
Turn learning the alphabet into a fishing expedition! With the power of magnets, kids are sure to land a "big one" every time!
- Paper clips
Cut out several fish shapes from cardboard or card stock. Write a letter on each fish, and attach a paper clip to the fish's mouth. Make a fishing pole by tying a length of string onto a stick. Tie a magnet to the end of the fishing line. Have the child fish for a specific letter to reinforce letter naming skills.
Write sight words onto the fish instead of letters for older children, and have them fish for a specific sight word. Another variation is to draw pictures onto the fish and have the child find a rhyming word: if the fish has a car drawn on it, ask the child to find the fish that rhymes with "star."
Sequencing skills may also be practiced with this phonty game. Once the child recognizes letter names, ask the child to find the fish with the letter A, then the fish with the letter B. This will help young children develop the ability to perform two-step tasks and recall the order of events.
Categorization may also be practiced. Draw animals on some of the fish, transportation vehicles on others, and vegetables on the rest (e.g.). Have the child sort the fish into three piles as they are caught.
A great way for kids to learn name recognition is to write their name on a strip of cardboard and cut each letter into a puzzle piece. Very young children will learn to put their name together, even before they can write letters. Attach a magnet to the back of each puzzle piece, and kids can put their name puzzles together on the fridge.
An easier (and travel-friendly) idea is to write the letters of the child's name onto squares of paper. Write the child's name on the outside of a snack-sized ziplock baggie - the child can practice placing the squares in the right order to spell their name.
Bubble Wrap Letter Stamps
Make fun stamps by gluing cut-out bubble wrap onto foam or wooden blocks. This activity is simple to make and the kids love stamping letters onto paper!
- Bubble wrap
- Foam or wooden block
Cut out letters from the bubble wrap. Glue the letter to a foam block and allow the stamp to dry. Pour tempera paint into a shallow bowl. Have the child dip the stamp into the paint (or have the child paint the stamp with a paintbrush). Press the stamp to paper to make textured letter imprints!