Preschoolers need lots of hands-on practice with the alphabet, and letter games are great for that. With basic wood letters from the craft store, you can make a cute set of painted alphabet manipulatives that are perfect for a range of letter games. As your child plays, she'll build letter skills and prepare for what's to come in kindergarten. Try one of the games listed below, or make up your own!
Wooden letters (these can be found in craft stores such as Jo-Ann’s or Michael's)
Acrylic paints in a variety of colors
Paper plates or bowls
Small bucket (such as a sand pail)
What You Do:
Cover your painting area with newspaper. Make sure your child wears a paint shirt that she doesn't mind getting a little messy.
Squirt paint onto the plate or into a bowl.
Have your child choose a letter, and say its name and the sound(s) it makes. Help your child paint the letter in any color she likes. Set it aside to dry.
Continue with all 26 letters of the alphabet. Try using a variety of colors and adding polka dots, stripes, or any other pattern for fun. You can also decorate the letters in your preschooler's name in a special way to separate them from the rest of the alphabet. This is a great first step in building spelling skills.
Show your child how to use a different brush for each color or how to clean the brush before dipping into another color.
Once your set is complete, get ready to play! Start with these games, then try making up your own:
Letter Sound Hunt: Place all the letters in the bucket. Have her close her eyes and take one out. Can she say its letter name and sound? Place the letters she knows by her. The others can remain in the bucket for additional practice.
ABC Pick-Up: Dump all the letters on the floor. Can she put them in alphabetical order? Sing the ABC Song together to help her.
Alphabet Scavenger Hunt: Have her choose a letter. How many items can she find throughout her house that begin with that letter? She can place the items in her bucket.
Word Maker: Have her spell her name with the letters. Can she make any other words such as "dog" or "cat" or any other three-letter words?
Tina Cho has been an elementary teacher for 11 years, mainly in the kindergarten classroom. She is currently a freelance writer.