Turn Your Child into a Letter Detective! Activity

3.8 based on 6 ratings
Updated on Aug 22, 2013

Getting a preschooler to sit still and run through the alphabet isn't easy. And why should it be? It sounds boring.

But spice things up with a few adult looking markers and the promise of a hunt, and you're in business. This activity turns kids into word detectives—scouring their way through documents in search of their prey.

What You Need:

  • Highlighters in several colors
  • Magazines or newspapers
  • Several index cards or post-it notes
  • Magnifying glass (optional)

What You Do:

  1. Choose a letter of the alphabet. Make sure that your child knows what it looks like, both as a capital letter and as a lowercase. (You may want to print both versions on an index card or post-it note, to give him a reference.) Once you've given your child a target, arm him with a set of old magazines or newspapers to hunt through, and a magnifying glass if you've got one, to add to the Sherlock Holmes experience. As he finds his letter, he should highlight it.
  2. Want to add extra excitement? Use a timer and see how many versions of the letter your child can find in two or three minutes. Tally the number and see if she can "beat" it the next time.
  3. If your child is having difficulty with this, don't despair. The magazine and newspaper pages may have too much writing on them. You can create your own page using a computer's word processing program. Instead of those Word Searches, so common in the newspaper, you're creating a Letter Search. Be sure to use a large font size, then type letters randomly, using some uppercase and some lowercase letters. To keep frustration levels low, use your focus letter frequently, at least at first. Here's an example of what a letter search for "Aa" would look like.
  4. Once your child is finding all of the letters of the alphabet quickly, challenge him with some high frequency words, instead. Some possible words to start with include: “the”, “a”, “to”, “my”, “is”, “you”, and “and”.

The more she practices, the faster she'll get. So keep those highlighters handy, and the hunt fresh.

Sarah Richards has an M.A. in Early Childhood Development and a B.S. in Child Development. She has spent 6 years teaching kindergarten and first grade. Before that, she was a child development specialist for young children with special needs. She has also worked in the preschool classroom.