an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

November 17, 2014
by countryfun

Playing with the ABC’s

I love when a young learner finds their interest in the letters of the alphabet beyond just singing the song. That interest is shown in wanting to copy words found around the classroom, pointing out special letters in books reading, naming letters that star words we are talking about, adding additional words that start with the same letter, and playing the same ABC game over and over.

To support that interest and the emerging learner of even younger learners I have been trying to introduce new letter activities on a steady basis.

Two that have been enjoyed recently and repeatedly follow.

The first is a simple stamping with letter cookie cutters. The second is stenciling with cut-out letter stencils. Both activities started with a discussion of colors and color blending. Then letters from their names were used. Last was free choice of letters.

IMG_1208   IMG_1214  IMG_1209   IMG_1210  IMG_1213

The next activity could be said to have “popped” into my head. I was smiling as I rescued a nice circular piece of wood when cleaning out the garage. It was left-over from an engineering project of my college age son. It was too good to throw out and I knew I’d find a way to use it. Then came the “pop”. I had previously seen an activity come through on Pinterest from the Billings School Kindertips folder (now pinned to my ABC activity/games board) that showed ABC cards spread around a circular table top. The children sorted out ABC letters from the classroom to correspond with the letter cards. Now I’ve always done ABC paper plate wheels where you match up clothes pins, so this idea was really just taking it to the larger game play model, but without seeing that pin I might not have gone there.

The construction of the game was also a fun activity as I had help reminding me which letter needed to be written in the next space. The upper and lower case formation was also checked-on :). “R” could not wait to play, so out came a donated bag of mixed/matched magnetic letters. Lots of naming letters, coming up with words that start with each letter, labeling colors and up and down movement. The movement is what makes these larger games great to use with young children. It doesn’t get much better than learning while you’re moving.

 DSC05790  DSC05789DSC05791 We ended up with a wonderful rainbow sunburst of upper and lower case letters. To put away we counted the number of letters for each of the alphabet letters as we put them into the storage container. It was surprising how many had the same number of letters.

Both as a teacher and recycler, I couldn’t waste the reserve side of the wooden circle. That has our numbers through 15, plus twenty. Great for magnetic numbers, but even better for tower building.

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When older sibling arrives after school it becomes a team effort  and when completed “R” needs to “picture it”. IMG_1881

October 20, 2014
by countryfun

One Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Game

“R” has a strong knowledge of all her letters, so that just means I need to keep coming up with creative ways to review with her. Being the only preschooler I have at this time means we often have an audience as we do a project and that’s ok as it supports their learning.

Today I used a favorite book – Chicka Chicka Boom Boom – to pull together a game that will have many ways to use.

All you need is an oatmeal container, brown and green construction paper, scissors, marker, glue and letters. I have a large collection of magnetic letters that we pulled from for this project.

This project changed from my plan, but the original purpose remained – reviewing letters.

I figured “R” would pull a letter, name it and I’d write it on the tree base. Nope! “R” wanted to do it herself and since we are currently beginning working on letter formation had to come up with another option, so frustration would not take over. She asked for stickers. Good idea as I have learned to always have a supply of letter stickers on hand.

Then “R” decided had to be in order (alphabetical order) just like the book.

I had pictured random letters all over the container. “R” pictured them in order placed along the top edge. What matters is the lesson purpose and giving value to her voice in her learning. Doing her way brought other skills into the original lesson.

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The project turned out great and we’ve played multiple times, as it hasn’t made it’s way home yet.

February 27, 2014
by countryfun

Nothing Fancy

I love that my families understand that there are not going to be fancy projects coming home all the time.

I love that my families understand that some of our best learning occurs without those fancy projects.

This week there was definitely “Nothing Fancy” about the lessons we did as follow up to watching a lot of Olympics the last 2 weeks. There was however a ton of learning and expanding on concepts that have been spinning around the group recently.

During the Olympics we talked a lot about different countries, locations around the world, about the colors of the uniforms, what did the flag symbols mean?, what were the groups of letters for?, what were all the different numbers we were seeing?………….

So my job was to pull together and continue to expand what they are learning.

To me these questions were all about figuring out how things fit into their personal communities. How did everything they were learning about letters stretch for this new information. We are just getting that handle around letters need to be grouped in special ways to make words that everyone can read. Here there were letters used as representation, but not words we could sound out.

Day 1: DSC04341 How Many Letters from our Alphabet were used in the abbreviations of the many countries we saw complete?

Or practical use of numbers outside counting and simple more or less discussions we have(addition/subtraction). Here there were judged points, timed events, ranking of Olympians, laps, etc.

Day 2: DSC04348 What Can We learn about the Colors of the Countries of Athletes We Watched Compete?

For a look at our complete Olympic lessons you’ll need to head to the Preschool Blog. Click here.




April 24, 2013
by countryfun

Name That Letter

For years I have used individual printed sheets of letters randomly placed and sized for children to practice letter recognition.

Sometimes they were upper and lower case. Sometimes just letters learning, ie A…….H. Sometimes letters and number mixed together.

I’ve used pages from the newspaper or magazines for Letter Hunts – find and circle the letter called out or pulled on a flashcard.

I recently saw an idea on Little Miss Glamour Goes To Kindergarten for a way to practice sight words.

Now we are not practicing sight words, but the idea was so similar to those sheets of random letters that a light bulb went on (so to speak).

Why couldn’t I do this using letters?

It was the use of a large sheet of paper and doing as a group that was new to me.


As you can see we had fun! We used our social skills, letter recognition skills and fine motor skills, even with the youngest ones joining in. What would a few scribbles hurt? And they felt part of the group.


March 14, 2013
by countryfun

From Deli Tray to Game Tray

I have a problem with tossing items that I’m pretty sure I can find another productive use for. Even items that can be recycled as part of our town’s trash program, still get double checked for alternative usage.

Now of course that leads to a variety of storage issues:

  • where
  • how
  • how many are too many, too few or just enough 

I’ve tried the “only store” 2, 4, or 6 and collect more as you need them. The problem with that is many of our projects here do not develop through a preplanned lesson, but rather through a request or interest shown that I want to take advantage of.

Or they are just unique enough that I know it’s not something I’ll easily put my hands on again.

The game we used today is a perfect example of just that. I started with this: 

It’s a large cupcake deli tray. Now how often do you see one of these? This is my first and I knew I couldn’t let it just be recycled through the trash.

So……. 12 circles for holding cupcakes  (back side view) = a clock? No to limited, not adaptable enough for long term usage.

Think Game!

Needs to be colorful……… adaptable……. expandable…….. 

Have peel and stick felt in rainbow colors, wooden square blocks, foam letters. Add in a half hour and I have the makings of a game tray.

Using plastic letters, homemade dice and this new game tray we had a fun morning working on letter recognition.


 We placed the cover on, shook the letters up, cover off, rolled our dice, found one matching color circle , named the letters found there, keeping the ones we knew. Then the next person goes……next……..

Shake the letters up for the next round and start again.

We are looking forward to using this in many other ways.

Game suggestions always welcome. 

Post It Letters

March 7, 2013
by countryfun
1 Comment

Find that Letter

Review activities do not need to be fancy, sit down or have a set time.

Post-It Play

Thinking active with this group I decided to use some of the bright post-it notes I have on hand to make an ABC activity happen. All I did was write one letter on each post-it  and stick them up randomly around the space during rest time.    We’d see what happened as the kids came back into the play space.

Rest Time Over……


Once they rubbed the rest from their eyes I started getting questions about “the letters”.

My response – “What letters?” ” There are letters?” “Where?”

Of course that led to them having to show me “the letters” that were all around the space. As each child woke those already up started to show them “the letters”.  We must have found “the letters” a half d0zen times. 

We found them in random order. We found the letters that started everyone’s names. We found them in alphabetical order. We found them as I called them out. They challenged one another to find letters.

It Ends……

Now the 2 year old was part of the activity also, except she kept finding letters, pulling off the post-it to show me :) After resticking 4 times I’m afraid the game was near it’s end, so I finished by having everyone work together to find the letters in alphabetical order, remove them and bring to “R” and myself. 

All this from 26 post-its!

March 4, 2013
by countryfun

ABC Work or Fun?

Kindergarten screening is just around the corner and time to get all the review in I can to support those that are going on to K and not frustrate those still working on learning to recognize their letters. Also want activities like this to be new, fun, involve additional skills and even challenges.

Watching these videos can you see the finger work and concentration needed to peel these sticky foam letters? How about the support and encouragement shared within the group? How we changed up the activity to include the beginning sound? How a 2-1/2 year old was involved? Just so you know, the 1 year old was keep busy bouncing in my lap :)

Can you see how attention began to run out, but they were involved enough we were able to work around it and complete the activity?

Why not throw in a little counting – 1-to-1 correspondence? Love how this group is all pretty comfortable counting well over 10 with confidence.

We finished with some neat ABC collages.



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