Alphabet matching: Help the lowercase mouse eat the correct uppercase cheese.

Exposing children to letters early sets a strong foundation when it comes to learning to read later on. Especially in young children learning through play is a great strategy. With my youngest (age 2) my husbands the type of person who believes we should let kids be kids. He’s not always keen on worksheets and workbooks for a child her age. Therefore we’re always looking for fun play based strategies to teach her basic skills.

My youngest daughter likes animals. I decided to incorporate some sort of animal into an alphabet card game we could play together that would expose her to uppercase and lowercase letters at the same time. A game in which she could visually match them with their pair. I went with a basic concept of mice and cheese. The mice cards are lowercase and the cheese cards are uppercase. At my youngest daughters age I’d bring out 4-8 letters at a time. For older children to gain additional letter review and practice you could bring out all the cards at once and set a timer to see how many mice they could feed in under 30seconds to a minute or longer depending on the age of the child and how challenging you want to make the game.

After printing out the cards I laminated them for durability and then cut them all out. I always round the edges that way they don’t poke my kids hands when they’re playing with the cards.

For additional learning fun I added in mice number cards. Consisting of the numbers 1-10. I made matching cheese cards to feed the mice.

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Items above are my Amazon picks for alphabet and number learning.

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Letter of the week is Cc.

For the letter Cc I made a poster and a simple match the picture with the correct word activity. For my youngest (age 2) the posters are helpful to introduce the concept of letter sounds. It also allows the chance to discuss similarities and differences. For example a cat, caterpillar, and cow are all animals which makes them similar. While carrots, cookies, and cupcakes are all similar because they are foods. The matching activity works as a review for my oldest (age 6) that already knows the alphabet and letter sounds. She’s currently learning to read. The matching activity allows her additional exposure to reading and sounding out words outside of her own school lessons.

Placed within a dry erase pocket to reuse.

In addition to the poster and worksheets I made a coloring page that went along with the letter Cc. Cc is for cat. I often write simple sentences for beginner readers to add in additional reading time outside of my oldest daughters reading lessons.

For a letter Cc activity that doesn’t need to be printed out you can simply draw a capital and lowercase C on a piece of paper. Point to the Big C and explain to the child that this is a capital C. Then point to the small c and say this is a lowercase c. Then explain that each letter has a a big and small version. You can allow the child to use paint, markers, crayons etc. to trace the upper and lowercase Cc. For additional letter Cc writing practice check the dollar store it is a great place to find handwriting practice books amongst other various workbooks.

Tracing the letter Cc using paint.

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Items pictured above are helpful toys and books my husband and I use with our daughters to recognize the letters of the alphabet.

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Letter of the week Bb.

For the letter of the week Bb I made a poster that contains different animals, foods, and the color blue. I also made a matching worksheet to go along with the poster. Throughout the week I show my youngest (age 2) the poster and emphasize the b sound in the beginning of each word. The matching worksheet I placed in a dry erase pocket that way we could reuse it throughout the week. With my oldest (age 6) I try to incorporate as much reading as possible in which she joined alongside her little sister to work on the matching activity.

Bb is for poster.
Bb is for matching worksheet placed in a dry erase pocket.

For a fun art and craft activity for the letter B my daughters and I made artworks of a beach. I try to keep art fun and not rigid in our house. My oldest enjoys being carried away by the process rather than being told what material she has to use to create art with. Therefore I told her for the letter b that we would make a beach and left it up to her to determine what she wanted to use in her artwork.

Bb is for beach.

My youngest and I made our beach artwork together.
Materials we used…
-blue construction paper
-dot stickers
-smiley face stickers

My oldest daughter’s age 6 Bb is for beach artwork.

Materials my oldest daughter used…
-blue construction paper
-dot stickers
-dot markers
-a variety of other stickers

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Save the brains; Zombie alphabet theme game.

My daughter recognizes and is able to recall the letters of the alphabet although at times she gets mixed up and it takes her time to remember each letter right away. Therefore I’ve been trying to come up with ways to add in alphabet activities throughout the day that are fun and entertaining for her.

With October about a week away I decided to make a zombie theme game for alphabet recognition. I try to switch out the games monthly or every few months to keep it new and interesting by implementing a new theme.

Save the Brains: Zombie Theme Alphabet Recognition Game.
(Scroll towards bottom of page for free printable.)

Brain Tokens:  Are used to make the game go a little faster.  Especially when using both the lowercase and uppercase decks at the same time. When a player runs out of brain tokens the game is over and each player can begin to count the number of people cards in their house.
Boy cards are lowercase.  Lower case Zombies I chose to use letters that kids often get mixed up the most for example lowercase b, d, are tricky and often are mistaken for each other.
Girl cards are uppercase.  For uppercase Zombie cards I chose to use the back portion of the alphabet kids tend to receive more exposure to uppercase A B C D therefore I wanted to give extra attention to the letters further back in the alphabet.

Game setup.
  -Each player gets a house game board to place the people cards they collect.
  -Pass out an even number of brains to each player.
  -Shuffle the cards and lay them face down.

Objective of the game is to get as many people to safety as possible. At end of game work on simple counting skills by counting up all your people cards on game board.  Whomever has the most wins.

Game Play
Youngest player goes first.
Draw a card from the game deck.
  Person card:  Read the letter on the card out loud.  For extra game play ask the child to name the letter sound as well.   When finished the player places that card in their house.  If the child gets the letter wrong  depending on their age and where they are in their alphabet learning journey you can allow them to place it in their house anyways, or tell them to place the card back in the game deck to try again later.
  Zombie Card:  If the child gets the letter wrong they lose a brain token.  If they say the letter correctly they can steal another players brain to feed to the zombie.  If you get a zombie card you can challenge your child to a race down the hallway in a circle etc.  If you win the race you get one of their brain tokens. If you lose the zombie eats your brain token. 

The first time we played the game I used only the uppercase letter cards to quiz her in a way that didn’t feel like a quiz in order to find out which if any uppercase letters she needed extra help with. She was able to name each one, a few of them she needed help with the letters sound. Therefore I wrote that down in order for more review later. She asked me why there weren’t any boy cards, I explained to her I made all the uppercase letters girls, and all lower case letter boys and that eventually we’d mix both decks together. I chose to do all upper case girls and all lowercase boys in order to be able to quickly sort the cards whenever needed to easily pull out upper or lower case cards.

In the upper case pack I made a y and z zombie because I had 24 people squares to work with. The rest of the zombies I used letters at the end of the alphabet because the first several letters A-D kids are introduced to often through early learning toys and things like that.

We played the game the next day with lowercase letters (boy cards) in order to test her knowledge on lower case letters. The font I used threw her off when it came to the letter q so we talked about how each letter can look a little bit different depending on fonts. Besides that she was able to name each one. She still needs more practice in order to recognize each letter instantly sometimes it takes her a minute staring at the letter before she calls out the correct name other times she’ll say the abc’s in alphabetical order out loud till she comes to the correct letter.

My husband, oldest daughter, and I all colored in our own game boards after I laminated each for durability.

Books above are fun Halloween themed books my daughter’s enjoy reading with me.

P is for Princess is a book my daughters read with me often and enjoy flipping all the flaps. The magnetic letter board is a toy both my daughter’s enjoy playing with and has helped my oldest work on writing letters of the alphabet.

Zombie theme alphabet tote bag is available for purchase at the Nana Hedgehog shop on Redbubble.

Please remember all activities found on LearningWithNanaHedgehog.com are meant to be done with adult supervision and are for personal use only.
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Learning the Alphabet Activities.

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Teaching my daughter the alphabet wasn’t a quick simple process. It took a few years of mixed strategies to get the alphabet to stick inside her brain. I never concentrated on teaching her the ABC song because I didn’t want her to only remember the sequence of letters I wanted to make sure she actually recognized the letters themselves. We did the letter of the week concept several times before it actually sunk in with her.

Now about two years since we began our alphabet journey she knows her letters and their letter sounds. It took practice and constant repetition. After we completed a letter of the week practice a few times through she then began her learning to read journey. In which my husband and I bought a 50 first sight words box set.

In order to motivate her and get her excited about learning the letters of the alphabet and their sounds I made weekly letter of the week goodie bags.

Goodie bag ideas…
-temporary tattoos beginning with the letter of the week
-alphabet stamps
-alphabet acorns
-dot stickers with the corresponding letter written on them

At the time my oldest daughter received her alphabet goodie bags my youngest was less than a year old, although she was real young I wanted to include her in the learning fun therefore my husband and I bought her alphabet cloth tiles to give her a new one each week as her special alphabet surprise.

For a good letter of the week foundation you don’t really need to do anything fancy you don’t even have to be all that creative about it. Each week you can draw a letter on a piece of paper and have them trace it with finger paint, markers, a paint brush, whatever they want to use. Talk to them about the sound of the letter, and mention words that start with that letter. Ask them what words they can think of.

If you want to do something a little more fancy then just tracing basic letters, you can turn letters into simple animals, foods, whatever you and your child can think of. My daughter decided to draw a cat for the letter C. Just have fun and remember it’s not about being perfect it’s just about exposing children to letters and beginning sounds often because the more exposure the better chance they will remember it.

Below are books that my daughter enjoyed reading, in which really helped her to recognize letters.

Below are posters my husband and I recently bought to help promote additional letter recognition practice and to focus in on learning sight words and vowels.

Below are games and tools I used to help keep my daughter’s interest.

My daughter enjoyed the alphabet bean bags, sometimes we would throw them in a laundry basket or a little bucket as she would call out the letter. Other times she would make us an alphabet road we both had to follow and avoid touching the floor.

Another activity that kept her interest involved placing alphabet magnets into a small container and fishing them out using a toy magnetic fishing pole. Sometimes we would use alphabet cards she had to read off and match different pictures and letters to. In the beginning I only placed 4-8 letters in the pretend ocean at a time.

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