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Click for Activity Central Ideas that enhance letter recognition and vocabulary.  And coming soon, more early childhood activities based on classic picture books and nursery rhymes. 

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Alphabet Lane Game
Stephanie H. helps preschool children learn to recognize the letters of the alphabet with this fun game.

Materials: Construction paper and felt tip marker. 

Write letters of alphabet with marker on construction paper.  Each  letter on a separate piece of construction paper. In large open space spread the letters out to make a little path. Then give children instructions like: stand by the letter A, or  jump to the letter K, or place your hand on the letter G, etc.

Alphabet Skills
Criss shares this literacy activity which focuses on letter recognition, listening, rhyming and sequencing skills, and memory.

Story CHICKA CHICKA BOOM BOOM, by Bill Martin, jr., alphabet letter cut outs, tree, magnetic board.

Introduce the alphabet to the children, read the story. Use flannel  board cutouts for the children to see a visual of the letters. Use magnetic letters and board for the children to match and recognize alphabet.

Comments: The kids love the book. After a few times they can repeat the rhyme without you reading the whole book.

Fishing for Letters
Many learning skills are reinforced when this game is played with a small group of preschool children.

You will need:
Construction paper, yarn or string, stick (a stick from a tree works well.), paper clips, horseshoe magnet and a simple fish pattern.

fish pattern
In advance prepare the game by using the pattern, cut out 26 fish from the construction paper.  Attach a paper clip to each fish and print letters on the fish.  Next, tie a piece of string  or yarn 2-3 feet long to the end of the stick.  Then tie the magnet to the other end of the string.

Play the game by spreading the fish out on the floor.  One at a time, let the children take the fishing pole and try to catch a fish by hooking the magnet to the paper clip on the fish.  Let each child identify the letter on his / her fish, then pass the fishing pole to a friend.

Alphabet Stretch
If, during circle time, young children find it difficult to sit still, don't.  Do the Alphabet Stretch instead.

Invite the youngsters to stand, stretch their hands in the air and say "A".  Touch shoulders and say "B".  Touch toes and say "C."  Continue with the letters of the alphabet, stretching a different way for each letter.

With young children, use just a few letters.  With older children, ask them to whisper a word that begins with each letter.

A B C  Bag
This game reinforces letter recognition and sounds.

You will need:
Small grocery bag, poster board, scissors, felt tip markers.

In advance cut poster board into 26 3" squares.  On each square print a letter of the alphabet.  Put the squares in the grocery bag.

To play the game have the youngsters sit in a circle.  One at a time let the children take the bag, draw a card, identify the letter (and for older children) tell something they would buy that begins with that sound.  Continue the game until all the children have had a turn. 

Game:  Beginning Letters
During this early childhood education game children focus on the sounds of letters.

You will need: Collect things that begin with the same letter and place them around the classroom.

Begin this game by saying, "Who can find something in the classroom that begins with the letter B?" Or say, "I can see something in the (toy box etc.) that begins with a "B" and is round and bounces.  What is it?"  Remember to emphasize the sound of each letter by repeating the sound twice.  As children become familiar with the sounds of letters they can be the leaders of this game.

Extension:  Use the first letter of the children's names for example, say "I see someone who is wearing a blue shirt and whose name begins with the letter "B" (Billy) etc.

Individual Letter Posters
Pre-k children learn to recognize each individual letter and the letter sound when they help prepare these alphabet posters.

You will need:
A teacher made or purchased alphabet poster, magazines, glue, child safety scissors, broad and fine felt tip markers, a large piece of craft paper (a large brown grocery bag cut to lay flat works also).

For this example we'll use "J", but the posters work for all other letters too!  In this small group activity first find "J" on the poster.  Ask, "What picture goes with the letter J?  What other pictures for "J" can we find?"  Together with youngsters look through old magazines. When you see pictures of objects that begins with "J" stop and say, "I see a "J" word.  Do you see it too?"  Say the word and then suggest, "Let's cut it out."

With children cut out all the pictures you find of things beginning with "J".  Help youngsters glue or paste them on the craft paper. Use a broad felt tip marker to print a large and small "Jj" on the craft paper.  Ask the preschoolers to name each J word as you print the name by each picture, making certain to begin some words with upper case and others with lower case letters.

Ask young children to bring in items for "Show and Tell" that begin with "J" or ask them to bring in "J" pictures cut from magazines.
Make up a "J" story with the youngsters using pictures and words beginning with the letter J.

Make Individual Posters for all the letters of the alphabet.

Tactile Sandpaper Alphabet Game
An early childhood education game that encourages young children to use their sense of touch as they identify the letters of the alphabet.

You will need:
Fine grain sandpaper, alphabet stencils, index cards, fine  tip felt marker, sharp scissors.

In advance, prepare sandpaper alphabet cards by tracing and cutting out lower and upper case letters. Individually glue each letter on an index card and allow them to dry.

Play with a small group of young children by "dealing" each child a card (face up) and inviting them to feel / trace the shape of the letter with their fingers before naming the letter.  As each child identifies their letter they receive another card (sandpaper side down).  Some children may need help from you or other players. When  all children have named the first round of letters, the face down cards are turned over and the game continues until all the cards are identified. Later a child can be chosen to be the dealer.

Name Song
Letters of the alphabet are introduced with this large group activity which can be adapted for group presentations.

You will need:
Poster board or heavy paper, felt tip marker, scissors and clear contact paper.

In advance cut the paper into 26 pieces 8-1/2" x 11".  Print the letters of the alphabet on the cards and cover with clear contact.

During a large group time one child at a time stand in front of the group.  Find the letter that her / his name begins with and let him / her hold up the letter. Improvise a tune for the following song.

T is for Tabitha, (insert letter and child's name)
That's good enough for me.
T is for Tabitha,
That's good enough for me.
T is for Tabitha, (insert letter and child's name)
That's good enough for me.
Oh, Tabitha, Tabitha, Tabitha,
Starts with T.
Continue giving each child the letter that his / her name begins with, and singing the song with her / him.

Art Activity:  Create an Alphabet Train
During this early childhood education art activity youngsters use their creative skills to develop a classroom alphabet train.

You will need:
Construction paper, broad felt tip marker, crayons and a  variety of collage materials (buttons, cotton balls, straws, paper and fabric scraps etc.) glue and scissors.

In advance, write each letter of the alphabet on separate pieces of construction paper. In a small group, hold up one letter at a time and ask the children, "What letter is this?  Yes, Maria, it is the letter P. Who can tell me something that begins with the letter P?"

After the youngsters have thought of some "P" words ask, "Who would like to draw a picture of a "P" word to go with the letter "P"?.  Continue in this way, with different children drawing pictures for different letters of the alphabet, until there is a whole alphabet to put up in your classroom.
Finally add a drawing of an engine and a caboose to complete the alphabet train.

Game:  "What's My Letter?"
This early childhood guessing game uses shapes and descriptive language to help children identify the letters of the alphabet.

You will need:
A felt tip marker, an alphabet poster for reference and paper.

In a small group near the poster, say, "I'm thinking of a letter".  Then describe the shape of a letter and begin drawing it out on paper, but don't complete the letter. See how quickly youngsters can guess what letter it is. Give the child that guesses the letter the opportunity to complete the drawing.  Continue for several letters.  As children gain experience with this game they can describe the letters and start the drawing. 

Extension:  Vary this alphabet activity by using the first letter of the children's names and saying, "I'm thinking of the first letter of Susan's name".  Then begin drawing the letter "S" and let Susan attempt to complete the drawing.

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