Hi there friends!
Today, I want to share with you 22 worksheet-free ways to practice letters of the alphabet.
Letter identification and formation are essential basic skills in the early years. We need our students to have repeated exposure and practice in creating the shape of each letter - in upper and lower case. All of these techniques can be applied to any letter in the alphabet.
Are they just for pre-school? No way! SO many students come to formal schooling with fine motor and handwriting needs. These activities are PERFECT!
They combine essential fine motor conditioning with letter awareness. Students can use their whole hand and wrist to experience the shape of the letter, without getting bogged down and frustrated by having to write tiny little letters neatly with a pencil on lined paper.
I have used many of these activities with very clever students that already know their letters. Upon initial assessment, I have found that they can recognise the letters. Some of these clever students, particularly boys I have found, struggle with the fine motor strength to write them easily.
For each of these activities, write a large letter on a piece of paper with a Sharpie, if you think your students need a guide to make the letter.
1. Play Dough - students roll, shape and form the dough to make the letter.
2. Rainbow Writing - place a fun sticker on the point where you want students to write. They use bright colours to trace the letter over and over again, forming a rainbow effect.
3. Pipe Cleaners - give students time and encouragement to twist pipe cleaners to make letter shapes!
4. Sticker Dots - students peel and stick dots to form the letter.
5. Dot Dabber - students use a dot dabber or bingo marker to write the letter!
6. Pom Poms and Tweezers - students use plastic tweezers (I collected a stack of these when they were free with a McDonalds meal) to pick up pom-poms and place them along the lines of the letter. They may or may not be glued into position.
7. Popsicle Sticks - students make a letter from popsicle sticks. You could use large or small sticks and as the students to glue the pieces together with white glue.
8. Glitter Glue - students can trace the letter with glitter glue, building skills tracking and directionality. Once it is dry, students can run their finger over the line and have a tactile experience of the letter also!
9. Finger Paint - forget the mess, you will not find a better tactile experience. The learning that takes place as students use their finger to draw and write in finger paint will have amazing effects on their writing further down the track, and is hard to replicate with many other materials. Get in there!
10. Paint with Water on the fence (or ground) - this is an important one for students with poor writing skills. The 'whole arm' writing will help them so much to 'feel' how to write the letter!
11. Sidewalk Chalk - who doesn't like writing on the group with chalk!? Students could also use chalk on small slates in the classroom.
12. Lego / Blocks - use whatever manipluatioves you have in the classroom to let students build!
13. Counters (chips) - students can place counters along the line of the letter 0 then count up how many they have used!
14. Push Pins - put the paper over a cork board or mat, and have the students push pins in to create the letter
15. Tracing Book - I made 'tracing books' for my students at the beginning of Kinder. I take an old birthday card, layers of kitchen paper (about 20, cut down to size) and staple them to form a book. Then I create index cards with letters on them. Students' slide a card under a page in their book, and trace. They LOVE them! They are also good for learning how to write your name too!
16. Mosaic - use any sort of mosaic toy/game that you have, and let students be creative. This one is a magnetic foam mosaic set.
17. Magnetic Letters - students sort through a tub of letters to find appropriate letters to make this one! They will have lots of letter discrimination practice as they search for their focus letter.
18. Paper Teaching - teach your students to tear paper, and have them tear their favourite letter. Get them to use their thumb and pointer finger of both hands, and teach closely between them.
19. Paper Chipping - paper chipping is where students cut small 'chips' of paper from a long thin rectangular strip of paper. It is an excellent early scissor control activity. Once they have
20. Glue Dots and Eyes - students can practice putting dots of glue along the letter, and then put a goggly eye on each dot!
21. Special Markers - get the 'good stuff' out. You will get lots of oooo's and aaaaa's from the students! Think smelly markers, glitter pens, fat pens and pastels. They can rainbow write again, but this time with something that is 'special'.
22. Tracing Tray - make trays of grain or salt for students to trace in. This makes a great tactile experience. Make it extra special by adding some glitter!