One of the first steps in teaching emergent literacy is teaching the alphabet. Should that be in the form of printing out worksheets and color pages? NO!!! Don’t kill a child’s curiosity and love of learning with worksheets and sit down activities. Children are meant to move and be active and foster all their senses. Let’s explore some hands-on activities for helping children learn to identify letters which is one of the first steps in teaching a child to read.
How about alphabet sensory play? What is that? “Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, movement, balance, sight and hearing. Sensory activities facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore.” (Goodstart, 2016) Sensory play helps develop language skills and fine motor skills. It is also calming and as I have discussed in the past, calm brains allow for learning to take place.
Let’s create an alphabet sensory bin to help our little ones learn their letters. What do you need?
- Metal Cookie Sheet
- Magnetic Letters
- Sensory bin, tub, or table
- Dark Construction Paper
- Laminating Film
Filler for your sensory tub, bin, or table. You can use rice, colored rice, moon sand, shredded paper, or anything that will cover the letters.
First you are going to create a letter mat. Take a cookie sheet and put a piece of construction paper on it. Put your magnetic letters in order on the paper and set out in the sun. After sun has bleached it out, laminate it so you can use it more than once.
If you want to use colored rice, here is what you need.
Colored Rice Recipe
1 cup uncooked rice
2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol
8 drops food coloring
How to Color Rice
Place the ingredients in a Ziploc bag, seal and mix until the color is absorbed evenly into the rice. Of course, if you are filling a large sensory tub with colored rice you will need to repeat the steps in the recipe several times. Then, line some cookie sheets with wax paper and pour your rice on top to dry.
After your rice is dry, pour it into your sensory tub or bin and mix in the magnetic letters. Now, children can search for the letters in the sensory bin. When they find a letter they have to look at it carefully and match it to the corresponding space on the cookie sheet.
Now have your children take the letters and match them up on the alphabet mat.
No you have used the child’s five senses to teach the alphabet. You have taught them to recognize letters and match them up and to tell the differences and similarities in letters. You have used the fine and gross motor skills to do this. This activity combines sensory play with letter identification and visual discrimination.
My name is Stephanie Wilkinson and I am a certified trainer with the Texas Registry. If you are looking for pre-service training for new staff or annual training to meet the Texas Health and Human Services Child Care Minimum Standards, visit me at stephanielearning.com
Online Child Care Training Uncategorized alphabet emergent literacy fine motor skills gross motor skills hands-on learning letters motor skills pre-K pre-school preschool sensory play tactile learning teaching reading training
I am an educator in every facet of my life. I teach early childhood education in the classroom and online as well as develop online training and professional development for employers. I also teach homeschoolers literature and homeschool my 17 year old son who graduates in May.