Tag Archives: letters

Eating Our Way Through The Alphabet

photo 5

I have been trying to get the kiddos a little more involved in selecting the food we eat for our meals and eventually assisting in preparing the meals. This activity ended up being a perfect way to get them excited about what they are eating and helping out.

How To Start

Step 1: Have your child write each letter of the alphabet down the side of a sheet of paper. ~ We were only able to get halfway through the alphabet with my kindergartner.

Step 2: Then have your child write down a food for every letter on the paper ~ It was fun to have both kids creating their alphabet lists at the same time because they were able to brainstorm together. They took many trips to the pantry to get inspiration when they got stuck on a letter, which I thought was a great idea!

Step 3: Once you have your list, try to have them come up with meals that will allow everyone to eat the alphabet as much as possible. We used a cookbook that had great pictures to help inspire some meal ideas from the kiddos.

Step 4: Shop for your food and enjoy everything you made from the alphabet!

Meal Ideas

Here are some meal ideas we came up with:

Crockpot Fake Cheese Pizza – Ingredients: Cheese, Tomato sauce, Noodles, Hamburger, Seasoning

Tacos- Ingredients: Bell peppers, Roma Tomatoes, Avocado, Lettuce, Chicken, Onions

Fish & Potato Wedges – Ingredients: Fish and Potatoes

German Pancakes with Grapes – Ingredients: Eggs, Milk, Flour, Butter, Grapes

Originally, my thought was to have them make a list of the alphabet on the wall and after each meal they could cross off the starting letter of the foods we just ate, but the kiddos wanted to do full meals. This turned out to be a lot more fun for us and it helped get the kids energized about what we will be putting on their plate over the next week.

Alphabet Nature Walk

How to find letters in Nature Activity

We have all taken alphabet nature walks with our kids looking for things that begin with the letter A (apple tree), B (bird), C (cactus), D (dandelion) etc.  We did a little twist on this the last time we went on a walk and we went looking for letters. We didn’t look at signs or license plates but looked at architecture and nature to find things that looked like letters.

This was a little hard at first because you have to think out of the box a little bit but once they got the hang of it, it was super fun.  I let each of the kids take pictures of the letters they found.

They love using my good camera so I think this was their favorite part. We had a little lesson on how to take good photos before we started.  We practiced centering the letter in the picture and zooming.  This activity kept all of my kids ages 10 and under busy for quite awhile.  My three year old even loved it. She found a lot of the letter “O”. It was fun doing an activity that they all got into.

Here are some of our favorite letters….

 

 

My girls have decided that they want to make an alphabet book with all the letters we have found.  We are planning a trip to a historic park soon to see if we can finish our alphabet.

You can also put them together to spell words for signs. If you get the whole alphabet, you can practice writing spelling words and simple sentences. The possibilities are endless!!!

I would love to hear your ideas on what you do with your nature alphabet!!

Handmade Alphabet Letters

Alphabet Letters

As you know, handmade gifts are the best but educational handmade gifts are the cherry on the top! My 5th daughter is about to turn 3 and I made her these fabulous fabric alphabet letters. They are really easy to make and are sure to be well loved.

How To Make

I saw a picture on good ole Pinterest that did not go anywhere and thought, “I can make those!”

Supplies needed:

  • Letter stencil (print out letters on card stock and cut them out to create a homemade paper stencil)
  • Flanel – scrap fabric is the best!
  • Scissors
  • Fusible fleece (optional)
  • Pen
  • Sewing machine

Directions:

I have a bubble set of letter stencils that I used, but you could use any font. I wanted them thick and soft, so I put fusible fleece inside and used flannel scraps for the outside.

You can learn from my mistakes and do not trace around your stencils with pen. Oops!

Once they are traced, put the fabric together and sew both sides together. Then I cut them out with pinking shears. I will admit cutting them out with the pinking shears was a little challenging because I used so much fusible fleece. I used had two layers of fusible fleece inside.  I think next time I will only use one layer to save my poor hand the pain!

5 Fun Letter Activities

Once you have them all finished, there are a million things you can do with them! But for now, here are my favorite 5 things:

1. Lay them out and call out a color, sound or letter and have your children race to see who can find it first. This works with one or more than one child.

2. Put them all in a bag and have a child reach in and pull one out. When they pull one out have them name the letter or sound.

3. Have your child put them in alphabetical order.

4. You can use them to spell simple words.

5. They are just fun to play with and chew on if you are 1! I guess I should make him some boy ones.

Needle Letter Fun Activity

Fun with letters

As my children have been learning over the years and are now in school, there is one important word that stands out to me…Repetition! Repetition is practice and a lot of the homework being sent home is just that. The more they practice, the easier it gets. Can you tell this is my new speech for my 2nd grader on why he has to read and write every night?

My new Kindergartner L.O.V.E.S. any excuse to practice. She enjoys the repetition and since she does not yet have homework like her brother, I have come up with a few ways for her to practice what she knows while her brother works on his homework. One that she has enjoyed that was inspired by some art she brought home from school is this Needle Letter Fun Activity. Even my 7 year old wanted to get in on the fun!

What You Need:

  • Print out of alphabet letters
  • Colored sheet of paper (card stock, construction paper, etc)
  • Needle – knitting needle works well for younger children
  • Carpeted area for them work on
  • Stapler

Step 1: Print out a sheet of alphabet letters. The Rusty and Rosy software has a worksheet or you can quickly find one by searching “alphabet letters” on google.

Step 2: Place the printout on top of the colored sheet, lining the corners up together. Staple the top 2 corners so the two sheets are attached together, but the bottom can be lifted up to look underneath.

Step 3:  Place the paper on the carpeted floor. Use the needle to poke holes in the paper following the outline of each letter. We discovered that a knitting needle was easier for her to hold and we did not have to worry about losing a small needle. Also, by placing the paper on the carpet it will allow the poking easier and will not put any dents on the table.

Step 4: When ready, lift the top sheet and place the back sheet towards a light (window, ceiling light, computer screen etc.) and enjoy the view. This is the part that my daughter loves the most!

 

This is a simple activity, but it makes basic letter practice exciting for my children. If you want to increase the difficulty, below are a few ideas of advanced activities you can add.

Extras:

  • Ask your child the name of each letter they are working on
  • Practice the sounds of each letter they are working on
  • Ask your child for words that start with the letter they are working on

More Than Just Breakfast – Learning With Letter Pancakes

Learning Letters with Pancakes

I am always on the lookout to squeeze some learning games into our day. Lately, my two children have been craving pancakes. They love to help make them, too. So, when I got the idea to make letter pancakes, I knew it was right up their alley. They loved playing with their food this particular morning!

What You Need:

  • Pancake mix (from scratch or box…it doesn’t matter)
  • 1 or 2 squeeze bottles
  • Funnel
  • Greased frying pan or griddle
  • Plates
  • Eager helpers/learners

Directions:

Step 1: Purchase your squeeze bottles or wash and clean other empty bottles from your fridge. (i.e. ketchup or mustard bottles) I found these two bottles below in the kitchen section of my local store for under $1 each.

 

Step 2: Prepare pancake mix and fill the above squeeze bottles with the finished mix. This can be a fun adventure to watch, too.

 

Step 3: Now let the fun begin! Slowly squeeze the bottle of pancake mix onto a preheated greased griddle or frying pan. Keep the heat low as the pancakes will cook fast.

My children wanted to be involved in every aspect, so I let them have a try at making and frying their own letters and/or words. They, of course, loved it!

But most of the time our griddle looked like this below. I went through most of the alphabet, as much as possible, and created two of each letter (one for each child).

 

Step 4: Once cooked, let them cool and separate one of each letter on each child’s plate.

 

Step 5: Now the time for “the game”. This is just one suggestion on what you can do…I said a word out loud and had my first grader figure out how to spell it and my preschooler had to find the sound the word started with. Then I would ask my first grader what other words he could make by switching one letter/sound. The preschooler understands rhyming, so she added her two cents, too, and would switch her letter pancake to change the beginning sound when needed.

Eventually, it led to my 1st grader teaching/helping his little sister figure out how to spell each word by him sounding out each letter of the word for her until she found  the right letter.

 

Step 6: Eat and enjoy. This had to be their second favorite part to actually cooking these letter pancakes, as you can see below. They devoured them!

 

Playing with our food has never been more educational! My favorite part was when my older child stopped and patiently helped his little sister learn. I think she is gaining a love for letters and words because of him. Again, gotta love that!

Make Learning Letters and Sounds a Game

Playing Match to Learn Letters

Now that my son is in first grade and almost reading on his own, my 4 year old daughter is eager to catch up. She is still learning her letters and gets a little confused with the sounds they make. We recently discovered a fun way for her to practice figuring out which letters go with which letter sounds. In fact, even my 6 year old enjoys to playing it!

What You Need:

  • A favorite game with many word options, like Match
  • One or two eager learners

How To Play:

The game is simple, and I am really surprised we have not started this sooner.

We play the game as normal, except that when it is each player’s turn they say out loud what is in each picture (practice for the sound and letter match). i.e. “Balloon and Dragon”

When a match is found, the player says out loud what the match is. Then I ask what the first sound is. Once they answer that, I ask what letter makes that sound. If they run into an issue matching the letter sound to the letter, we will run through the alphabet together and if more help is needed, we will then run through the alphabet again saying the letter sounds for each letter.

Our conversation went a little like this:

Player: I found a match!
Me: What is it?
Player: Pizza.
Me: What sound does Pizza start with?
Player: Puh.
Me: What letter makes a Puh sound?
Player: P!
Me: Good job! You can take your match.

The first few matches were a little trial and error for us, but she soon got the idea. Her brother was able to skip right to telling me the letter before I even asked him.

Here is a short video demonstration of our new learning game:

Ever since the first time we played this game, my four year old often stops me throughout the day to tell me what sounds and letters the words she is saying start with. I love to see her so excited about learning!

DIY Fridge Magnet Letters

glass pebble letter

My kids are a little older so those “classic” primary color fridge magnet letters don’t really fit our style anymore. I wanted to make a new set that would allow the kids to leave messages and notes to us and each other. I also wanted them to be cute and fun because they were geared towards the kids. I decided to raid my craft closet to see if I could make something unique but still useful.

Glass Pebble Fridge Letters

letter fridge magnets diy

  • 1/2″-3/4″ clear glass, flat gems (found in floral arranging section)
  • old magazines, junk mail, brochures
  • school glue
  • super glue or hot glue
  • scissors
  • disc magnets 1/2″-3/4″

craft suppliesLeaf through old magazine, seek out bright and fun headlines and titles. Determine if they’ll fit behind your marble by simply placing the gem on top and making sure you can see the letter, number or symbol clearly.
Apply clear drying school glue to the back of the marble, press firmly to the letter/page. Let completely dry for up to 1-2 hours.

glass gem fridge magnetWhen the glue has completely dried carefully cut/trim paper away from glass gem so paper does not stick out from behind gem. Using hot glue add pea size bead to magnet and press firmly to glass gem. Magnets will be ready to use in 10 minutes.

Gather up your old magazines, brochures, pamphlets and junk mail and make your own fridge magnets. The entire project, completing all the letters, numbers and some symbols should take one day. Please note these magnets are NOT intended for toddlers as they pose a choking hazard. These magnets are meant for older children and adults. With proper supervision younger children can enjoy spelling out words with your new fridge decor.

 

“Secret Missions” – Sneaking Reading and Math Into The Day

Making Chores fun

Just using the phrase “Secret Missions” spike curiosity in my two young children and they eagerly want to be a part of whatever it is. Every now and then we all need a change of pace. That is where “Secret Missions” come in! Give some variety to your regular routine and sneak in some number, letter and letter sound recognition, along with some writing and reading practice. You can even sneak in some math for an added challenge, if you want. Right now we use “Secret Missions” as a part of our chore routine, hence the lovely hairdos my kiddos are styling with in the picture above.

What You Need:

  • Paper
  • Pencil or pen (or markers, if your children are obsessed with them like mine are)

Directions:

Step 1: Create an encryption code. Keep it simple or make it as complicated as you like. I recommend starting simple and making it more complicated as needed. For now, we assigned a number to each letter of the alphabet in numerical order. It is a good review for my almost 1st grader and a little bit of a challenge for my 4 year old. The 4 year old gets a chance to practice her letter/sound recognition and is able to put a name to some new numbers. She can currently go to 12, so going to 26 is fun little push for her. Plus, she loves to do what her older brother is doing and he loves to help her.

Ideas For Variety Or To Make It More Challenging:

  • Assign each letter a number not in numerical order like the above example.
  • Add math to the code. Instead of 1, 2, 3 for each letter make it all addition for the code or a variety of addition and subtraction. (i.e. 0+1, 1+1, 2+1 or 2-1, 1+1, 5-2, etc.)
  • Add shapes to the code. For additional options you can use patterns (star star or square circle, etc.)
  • Or use a variety of above.

Step 2: Create your secret code. This can be whatever you would like…a list of chores, something fun to do, a place you are going, a list of items to pack for a trip or a day out, etc.

Step 3: Decipher the code!

Like I said above, we are currently making our morning chores into “Secret Missions”. We have started with only 3 Missions for now and the current reward is 15 minutes with their favorite computer game. Each child deciphers one mission at a time, then they sound out the words (with help, if needed) and complete the job before they can work on the next Mission. Even though my 6 year old grumbles at the idea of chores and always starts grumbling through the start of figuring out his mission (because that is work for him, too! =-) ), I am amazed at how fast he runs off to do his job and comes back to the table to conquer the next Mission. Even my 4 year old cleaned up her room without me reminding her and did it without asking for help. That never happens!

This is what my son’s final mission looked like when he was done. The next time I write the code I need to make it in lowercase letters, so he does not get in the habit of writing in all caps. (His teacher did not like that last year. =-))

Enjoy!

Going on an Alphabet Sound Hunt!

Photo Scavenger Hunt

The camera is something the kiddos know they are not allowed to touch. So, if I suggest we go on a picture hunt and they get to take the pictures with “my camera”, they are willing to try whatever I have planned. For us, the camera is a great motivator, and seems to make a basic scavenger hunt into a real adventure!

This activity is great for children who already know their letter sounds and connecting words to sounds. I love to play games like this with my oldest, who is in Kindergarten, when his little sister is close by because she seems to learn a lot from seeing him in action. After watching her brother, she will eventually join in and attempt to find some sounds. Right now she is much better at finding rhyming words than letter sounds.

What You Need:

  • A safe place to observe and look around. (We were on our cul-de-sac.)
  • A camera
  • An eager child who want to have some fun

Directions:

Pick a safe place to explore and look around. You can do this on a walk or in your backyard. My original plan was to play this on a walk, but it just didn’t happen. In the end, I think it was easier to do when we stayed in the same area and he was able to observe the same things the entire time.

Next, start sounding out your first letter. We started with the Letter A. To get him understanding the game I asked him what sound “A” made. Then I would pick things we saw and ask if it started with an “A” sound. “Does rock start with an ‘A’ sound?” Soon, he would start to pick things, too.

Note: “A” and “I” were really hard for us to do, so you may not want to linger on those too long if you know there is nothing nearby.

When he found a word that started with the letter/sound we were on then I would let him take the camera and take a picture. (I did show him how to use the camera before we started and made sure he had his hand through the camera strap…I also have a really good warranty with my camera, which helps me feel a little better about playing games like this. :-) )

A-(Not pictured), B-Bushes, C-Cactus, D-Dog, E-Ear, F-Fence, G-Grass and Green, H-Hand, I-(Not pictured), J-Jump

We only made it through the Letter K, but we had a lot of fun. Even a few days later I have my son coming to me to tell me what sound a certain word starts with. I am sure he is doing a lot of this in school already, but it is fun to have him know that he can include me in such observations!

 

Surprising Milestones

All-by-myself

Do your kids ever do things that surprise you? That make you ask, “where did you learn this?” As much as I try to be active with my children and involved in their education, sometimes they really say and do things that make me proud and surprised at the same time.

With my oldest, I was constantly monitoring her progress against the recommended milestones. I read to her, played with her, created flash cards and took her on educational outings. I was able to because I had time.

Now I have a 5-year-old, 3-year-old and a 14-month-old. My time is split every which way and I am not able to give my son’s education the same kind of attention I gave his sister. At first I felt guilty. Then I was scared he wouldn’t learn as well as his sister or stay on track.

Boy was I wrong!

He learns so much from his older sister! I also take him to play groups with older children and he picks up things from them. I take him to the library so I can play with the baby while he enjoys story time. Little things that give him the education he needs and give the baby the attention she needs.

Another thing that is really convenient for me and saves me time is the Rusty and Rosy Reading software. It emails me David’s progress as he completes games! I look over his shoulder and see him clicking letters and learning sounds, very content with his play time and what it is teaching him.

Yesterday, out of the blue, he told me he can spell. Shocked, since I have not even begun to teach him his letters yet, I asked him what he can spell.

L-I-Z-Z-I-E! He said proudly!

His sister’s name. What she spells constantly. I took that opportunity to tell him how proud I was of him and we reviewed the alphabet. Then he went immediately to play with his trains. He counted all of them. When did I teach him to count?

A sigh of relief. Having three children was not the educational tragedy I thought it would be.  As long as I am active in their education, provide them activities that stimulate their minds, and build on what they already know, they will be just fine!