I didn’t know where to start when my son became preschool age.  And I didn’t have a lot of money to spare.  So, I had a good long talk with my sister-in-law.  She shared with me what she had done with a group of friends in her own community:

They had formed a co-op.

I liked this idea, but was too scared to venture out on my own.  Luckily I soon found a group that another parent started up, and I joined in.  That is when I realized that anyone could do this, and have a wonderful experience! (If you don’t want to start it on your own, see the “Jump start” here).

After my conversation with my sister-in-law, she sent me a file that one of the parent’s in her group had obtained from her sister.  I have tried to learn her name, but have not been successful yet.  This file is amazing and chock-full of great ideas in helping plan simple activities to do with the children!  I have modified it slightly.

Click here for the full file: Practical Activity Guide (see sample below)

Also see my blog post lesson helps (right side bar)

Another helpful tip for planning activities is to first pick out 1 or 2 books to read.  Many activities and game ideas can come as a spin-off from a book!

Sample: (Click on file for many more!)

Alphabet activities

  • Alphabet sort – Pick a letter out of the big bag of letters and match it to the correct letter on an alphabet poster/paper.
  • Hot Potato: Place a letter inside a small container (or envelope, etc) and start the music.  Have the children sit in a circle and pass around the container while the music plays.  When the music stops, whomever has the container gets to open it and name the letter.  (This activity can also be done with numbers, shapes, sounds)
  • Decorate:  Cut out a large letter shape; child decorates with stickers, stamps, markers or collage materials. These could be related to the letter sound, such as glitter for G, sequins for S, pompoms for P.
  • Sounds Sort: Have letters you are learning on individual pieces of paper and spread them out on the floor. Provide students with pictures and/or objects which start with those letters. Have students sort through the pile of objects, placing the objects on the letter that each item begins with.
  • Bean Bag Throw:  Have a poster board divided into all different sections with each section containing a letter.  Let the kids throw the bean bag on the poster, whatever section their bean bag lands on – that’s the letter they have to name.
  • Find the letter: Make a page full of all different letters, have kids go through all the letters on the paper and find and circle the letter you are talking about. Example:  If you were learning about letter A, the children would circle all the letter A’s on the page.
  • Memory Game: Place three different letters on a tray, cover them with a cloth, and take one away. The children guess which letter is missing. Children can also find the letter that is missing among their own set of letters. If the children are very interested in writing, they can write the letter that is missing on a paper, white board, etc. To increase the difficulty of this game, place three letters on the tray, cover them, and ask the children to recall all three letters that were on the tray.
  • Erase the Letter: Write several different letters on a white board.  Call the children up one at the time to erase the letter that you say.  Continue until all the letters are erased.
  • Mystery Bag: Three objects beginning with the same letter are placed in a bag (ex. ball, bug, and button for B). The leader pulls each item out of the bag, names it, and the class guesses the letter.
  • Alphabet Dice: Use a large pocket cube dice or make your own dice out of cardstock/paper.  Choose several different letters to have on each side of your dice.  Pass the dice around the group. Each child has a turn to roll the dice, and we shout out the letter that is rolled.
  • I spy:  Make a poster or page with many different letters (can be done with numbers/shapes/etc.)  Have the children come up and find the letter you ask for.  They can also pick letters from a bag and either find the matching letter, the lower/uppercase letter, or they can pick pictures and find the letter of the beginning sound (this is a harder skill).
  • Dice Roll: Pick 6 letters and put one on each side of a dice.  Roll the dice.  Whatever letter you roll, color in a square on a graph.  See what letter gets to the top first.
  • Circle the Letter: Cut out some pages from a newspaper or magazine. The child circles a particular letter.
  • Hide and Seek:  Hide 12 to 15 letters (printed on paper) around the room.  Have children take turns finding them.
  • Body Letters:  Make letter shapes with your body, lying on the floor.
  • Whole brain:  Make a 1.5’ wide strip of paper with the same letter written in a line. The children cut between the letters and say the name as they cut each one.
  • Crayon rubbing over a cardboard shape letter. Use different sizes and colors for an interesting design.
  • Watercolor letters:  Write letters with white crayon on a paper.  The children paint the paper with watercolors and watch the letters appear.
  • Chalk Letters:  Write large letters outdoors with chalk. Children hop or skip around them, saying the name or sound.
  • Throw and Find:  Have a handful of foam or paper letters – throw them into the air! Find all the A’s…etc.
  • Row Row Row Your Boat:  “Sing, sing, sing an F, sing it loud and clear! Tell the children everywhere the letter F is here!” Hold your F cards up and wave them. Use any letter.
  • Make mini puzzles with index cards. Cut them in half, mix up the pieces. Don’t use too many at once.
  • Stick letters:  Some letters can be created with craft/skill sticks. Place sticks over a large letter on paper, or make it freehand on a table or floor. It can be glued together.
  • Trace letters in finger-paint; in pudding; in shave cream; in baby powder; in cool whip; etc.
  • Jumping Beans – make flashcards with letters/shapes/or whatever you want on them.  Add some card to the flashcards that have a picture of beans on them. Each child gets a turn to pull a card from the bag. If it’s a letter (or whatever), they identify it. If it’s a bean, they yell, “jumping bean!” and everyone jumps up and down.
  • Stepping stone letters – tape the paper ”stones” with letters written on them to the floor, children jump from one to the next. You can also call this “frogs and Lilly pads”
  • Obstacle Course:  Tape 3 or 4 learned letters to the wall. Jump to the A. Crawl to the B. Tippy toe to the C etc.
  • Find the Letter:  Gather together a set of products, packages and cans. Hold up a letter, or name one. Can you find this letter anywhere on the packages and cans?
  • True or False:  Teacher/leader holds up a letter and says its name (or sound). If the statement is true, children eat a Cheerio (or something similar). If it is false, they do nothing.
  • Fishing for letters – a magnet on the end of a string tied to a dowel. Letters written on paper fish with a paper clip on nose or tail.
  • Headband:  Make and wear a letter headband or badge
  • Play dough activities: make letters by drawing with sticks; use letter cookie cutters; etc.
  • Walk the letter:  Make the letter very large on a floor with tape or outside on the sidewalk with chalk.  Have the children “walk” the letter.
  • Practice handwriting on white boards, chalk boards, magnadoodles, salt or sand trays, etc.
  • Create the letter:  Use pipe cleaners, wiki sticks, popsicle sticks, yarn, etc.
  • Rainbow Write – have children trace over the letter with red, then blue, then green (or with whatever colors you choose).

 

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