We love scavenging for letters and routinely look for them at the store, on signs while we walk or drive, and around the house. Books are also a fun way to spot certain letters and my son in particular is famous for sitting down and finding all the letters of his first name in whatever we happen to be reading.
Sometimes, it can be fun to play with this natural inclination to discover and find letters. Here are some of our favorite letter games that strengthen letter recognition skills.
1. Sensory Bins
We are huge fans of sensory bins and one of the easiest ways to get my kids involved in an identification activity is to bury what we are learning to recognize in a mound of dirt, sand, or beans.
Here are two of our recent favorites.
I buried the entire alphabet (a laminated version of each of the letters, provided by Mother Goose Time, MGT) into a dirt tray and then the kids dug it out. It was up to the kids to find all the letters and line them up and make sure we had found them all.
We are also a huge fan of hunting for hidden gems or in this case letter tiles in a pan of beans.
Here I divided the alphabet letters into a couple of bins filled with beans and had the kids match the letters they found with some letters on a chart supplied by Mother Goose Time.
I then created a hand made chart with lower case letters and upped the ante for my older child by having her match the upper case tile letters with the corresponding lower case letters on the chart.
2. Magically Appearing Letters
When the kids first started using Mother Goose Time, we did an awesome unit called Nature Detectives.
During one of those activities, we created letters using sticks, leaves, and other items we found outside.
My daughter was and is very into dirt. She started making letters out of dirt.
I quickly used some glue to draw some shapes on paper and then had her sprinkle dirt onto the page to discover what letter I had written. She loved this activity so much we have repeated it with letter and word recognition several times.
This activity also appeals to her tactile nature and she enjoys tracing the dirt and glue with her finger. I find this ironic, since I can’t get her to touch the Montessori books we have that allow you to trace a letter or number created with different textures. At least the dirt is much, much cheaper 🙂
Now, she likes to draw the letters and shapes with the glue and have her younger brother sprinkle the dirt on top to identify what she has written.
One of the easiest activities we complete is to have the kids match blocks that have letters on them with a word. We do this a lot with their names and sight words. Ladybug is a huge fan of this activity. Owl prefers to build with his blocks.
4. Egg Hunt with Tiles
Our kids are huge, HUGE fans of hunting for Easter eggs. So much so, we conduct a variety of similar hunts all year long.
One that is a hit with both kids involves hiding our letter tiles into the plastic eggs and hiding them in the backyard. Whoever finds the “target letter” identified beforehand gets to choose the snack we have for the afternoon.
5. Name that Letter
My kids love when I draw shapes, letters, or numbers on their back with my finger, and have them guess what I have drawn.
They love when I let them try to recreate what I’ve traced on their back using a “writing tray”. Our favorite writing trays include those filled with dirt or salt.
We often trade places and they practice drawing letters on my back and have me guess what they’ve drawn. In another version, I will draw or trace a capital letter on their back and have them try writing the lower case letter.
Sometimes, we use playdough instead of a writing tray. Ladybug is old enough that she is often able to make the letters by herself or using her Play-Doh Fun Factory. Owl is still learning, so I supply letters sent to us by Mother Goose Time that he can push into the playdough to make imprints of the letters. Here he made a “M” and then turned it into a monster by using googly eyes, because monster starts with the letter “M.” 🙂
What are your favorite ways to play with letters and word recognition in your home school?