Pre-school Theme Day
Once your child is aware of all the letters of the alphabet having a general alphabet day is a fun way to review. If your child knows the capital letters well use this day as an opportunity to highlight the lower case letters. I’ve listed a lot of different activities so it might be better to spread them out over a number of different days – have an alphabet week instead! Once you are finished this theme day, keep reviewing the letters until they are in school by repeating various activities at any time.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
Note: A great book to try to find for preschoolers to learn their letter sounds and lower case letters is Anchors and Sails: A Reading Program for Beginners, by Bev Jaremko, Trafford Publishing, 2004, which I used with both of my boys.
The most obvious choice for an alphabet theme day is the “ABCDEFG...” alphabet song that most of us learned in school- http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/a004.html
Many different Children’s Music Recordings have other alphabet songs (like Sharon, Lois and Bram’s “Alphabet Medley” from their Travellin’ Tunes album), check your children’s collections to see what you have on hand.
For something completely different find on your favourite music provider “Crazy ABC’s” by the Barenaked Ladies.
You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “alphabet coloring page” or print out my Alphabet Colouring Page.
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any alphabet books.
Go to the library with your child to find some alphabet books on.
Go to the library on your own to find alphabet books to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search for “alphabet” under “children’s books”). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Here are some fun alphabet books to read if you can find them:
· Alphabet House, by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace, Marshall, 2005 – wonderful Paper cut-out illustrations make this a fun book to review the alphabet as you can work together with your child to search through the rabbit family's house to find many items starting with every letter of the alphabet.
· Alphabet Mystery, by Audrey Wood and illustrated by Bruce Wood, The Blue Sky Press, 2003 – The main characters in this book are the little letters of Charley’s alphabet. One morning the letters wake up and realize the letter “x” is missing so they journey forth to find him and later convince him that he is important as he ends up playing an important part on a loving message on Charley’s birthday cake to him mother.
· Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, Aladdin Paperbacks, 1989 – The alphabet attempts to climb a coconut tree in this rhyming book.
· Food for Thought: The complete book of concepts for growing minds, written and illustrated by Saxton Freymann, Arthur A Levine Books, 2005 – This fun and unique book reviews shapes, colors, numbers, letters and opposites through clever photographs of vegetables in disguise (with faces, made into animals or objects etc.).
· Found Alphabet, written by Ramon Shindler and Wojciech Graniczewski and illustrated by Anita Andrzejewska and Andrzej Pilichowski-Ragno, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005 – This is a fun one to flip through as the illustrations are photographs of pictures made from various objects found in an old house. The accompanying rhymes were written afterwards based on the art. All four creators of the book are from Poland.
Older siblings might enjoy these titles:
· Alphaboat, by Michael Chesworth, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002 – This rhyming book has the letters of the alphabet sailing away to find buried treasure. It is full of puns which would appeal to older kids already established in reading and spelling.
ALPHABET STICKER COLLAGE:
Materials: Stickers of letters, coloured paper.
Step 1: Let your child choose what colour paper he/she wants for the background.
Step 2: Give your child the stickers and let him/her stick or glue them to the coloured paper in any design or manner.
ALPHABET MAGAZINE COLLAGE:
Materials: Old magazines, coloured paper, glue stick, damp cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Let your child choose what colour paper he/she wants for the background.
Step 2: Look through magazines together and cut out large letters.
Step 3: Let your child glue the letters to the coloured paper in any design or manner – be sure to have your child tell you what letter it is they are gluing as a review.
Materials: Stamps with the letters of the alphabet on them, ink pad, white paper, paper towels, damp cloth for dirty fingers.
Step 1: Let your child stamp the letters in the ink pad and then press them on the white paper.
NOTE: This can be a nice personal book if you use photos or photocopies of photos of friends and family members.
Materials: Crayons and markers, 8 pieces of coloured paper, child-safe scissors, glue stick, old magazines to cut out, old photographs for friends and family, damp cloth for sticky fingers, stapler.
Step 1: Fold the eight pieces of paper in half and form a book by stapling them together.
Sit with your child as he/she colours each shape on the colouring page, reviewing the name of each shape.
Step 2: Write the letters on each page of the booklet (one letter per page) or have your child write the letters if he/she is able or cut out letters from a magazine (or from my Alphabet Cut-Out Worksheet) or use stamps or stickers.
Step 3: If you are using old photographs (or photocopies of pictures) cut them to fit and let your child glue them to the appropriate letter page.
Step 4: Search through magazines together to find things that start with each letter.
Step 5: Help your child cut the pictures out and let your child glue them to the appropriate letter page.
Step 6: Read the book together to review the letters.
Print out my Alphabet List Worksheet and, as a challenge for the week, see if your family can eat something that starts with each letter of the alphabet.
Make letter pancakes by putting the batter in a re-sealable bag and then squirting it out through a snipped corner to write letters onto the hot griddle.
Ingredients: Vanilla or plain yogurt , a small tube of writing icing (we found some called “Scribblers”)
Step 1: Scoop some yogurt onto a plate.
Step 2: Let your child write some letters or spell a word like his/her name onto the yogurt using the tube of icing OR if your child isn’t able to write letters yet write them yourself and have your child guess the name of the letter as you are writing it.
Step 3: Eat with a spoon and enjoy.
Alphabet Soup with alphabet bread sticks. Cook a can of Alphabet Soup and then shape some refrigerated bread sticks into letters before baking. Try spelling your child’s name.
Alphabet Pasta: If you can find some alphabet shaped noodles at your local grocery store cook them up and serve them with your favourite pasta sauce.
Alphabet cookies: make some sugar cookies and use alphabet cookie cutters to make some delicious letters.
Use sidewalk chalk to encourage your child to write his/her letters.
Fill a pie plate with sand, sugar or salt and teach your child how to trace the letters in the sand. When you are finished tracing dump the sand in a re-sealable bag to use on another day.
Print out a copy of one of my three worksheets (Print the Letters: Aa to Ii, Print the Letters Jj to Rr, and Print the Letters Ss to Zz) to encourage your child to trace the letters and practice writing the alphabet. The last space in the row is there for your child to try to write the letter on his/her own without tracing. This can be hard work for a preschooler so do not do the entire alphabet in one day. Instead, attempt to do a few letters a day.
Go on a hunt around the house or outside as you go for a walk, searching for things that either start with each letter of the alphabet or the actual letter itself (on signs etc.). Print out a copy of my Alphabet List Worksheet and use a pen to write what you and your child spot.
If you’ve done all my individual alphabet theme days you can just review the letters my referring to the completed chart or you can do it again as a review.
Step 1: Put the three pages of the Alphabet Chart on your fridge with magnets or pin it to a bulletin board or tape it to a wall.
Step 2: Have your child colour (optional) the Cut-out Alphabet Cards.
Step 3: Help your child cut the Alphabet cards out.
Step 4: Have your child apply glue to the back of the Alphabet cards and glue them on the Alphabet Chart (or you can have your child use tape).
Step 5: Review what each letter it is and what sound each letter makes by pointing to the chart.
Review the entire alphabet by using a set of flash cards (found at book stores, educational stores, even craft stores) or make your own by writing each letter on an individual index card or colouring and gluing the letters from my Cut Out Alphabet Card Worksheets.
PLAY DOUGH LETTERS:
Using play dough or clay help your child create each letter.
If you have an alphabet puzzle this theme day is the perfect time to play with it together.
Play with any other educational toys that focus on the alphabet.
Use modelling clay or play dough with your child and make letters.
RUN TO THE LETTER:
Write each letter of the alphabet on your driveway or on the sidewalk at the park where it is safe (away from cars). Then call out the letters one at a time and not in order and have your child run to the letter.
Call out the letters and have your child try to form the letter with his/her body. Try making the letters together as well.
Play “I Spy With My Little Eye” only trying to find things that start with each letter of the alphabet.
ALPHABET MEMORY GAME:
NOTE: This game is to practice matching lowercase and uppercase letters.
Materials: Print out a copy of my Alphabet Memory Game, crayons or markers, coloured paper, glue-stick, scissors (for adult use only), face cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Let your child colour the letters on the Alphabet Memory Game worksheet with crayons or markers.
Step 2: Have your child pick a colour of paper (three sheets of the same colour) to glue the worksheets on to and then help your child apply glue to the back of the worksheet and paste the sheet to a piece of coloured paper.
Step 3: Carefully cut the squares out making 52 cards (you may need to apply more glue).
Step 1: Mix the cards up face down.
Step 2: Place the cards (still face down) in rows.
Step 3: Youngest player goes first and gets to flip over two cards. If the letters match (uppercase and lowercase) that player gets to keep the cards.
Step 4: The next player then goes and turns over two cards, keeping any pairs.
Step 5: Continue to take turns until all the cards are flipped over.
Step 6: The winner is the one with the most cards.
HINT: For younger players play as a team to find matches together.
There are many different websites that offer games for preschoolers. You can find them by looking up your child’s favourite television characters. Here are two from the Sesame Street website:
Big Bird’s Letters is a simple game because it only involves your child pressing any letter on the keyboard and then the letter appears along with a picture that starts with that letter:
Letters to Big Bird is another alphabet game to play together. In this game Big Bird literally receives a letter in his mail box and your chid has to click on something on his shelf that starts with that letter:
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows reviewing letters.
There are many different DVD’s and videos to choose from here are a few Preschooler favourites in our house:
· Blue’s Room: Alphabet Power, Viacom International Inc., 2005 – This DVD has two episodes of blue’s Room and two of Blue’s Clues. The first two deal with the alphabet and the last two more with writing and reading.
· Sesame Street: All-Start Alphabet – There’s So Much to See Between A and Z!, Sesame Workshop, 2005 – This fun DVD has capital A and Z interviewing people at a mall about the alphabet while also highlighting each letter with individual skits from the show Sesame Street. Adults might enjoy it because it includes segments with Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, and the Dixie Chicks to name a few of the celebrities featured.
Children aged 4 to 7 might benefit from this DVD we found at the library:
· Leap Frog: Letter Factory, Warner Home Video, 2003—Tad takes a tour of the letter factory and learns each letter sound.
· Rock N Learn: Letter Sounds, Rock ‘N Learn, Inc., 2003 – with songs and computer animation this show highlights the phonetic sounds of the letters.
Sticker Collages from every Letter Theme Day
on my son’s closet door
Alphabet Sticker Collage
Alphabet Magazine Collage
Alphabet Stamp Collage
Alphabet Chart Review
Alphabet Memory Game
Photo: C Wright