I just recently became a big fan of sensory bins. Crazy, right? Literacy activities have always been my go-to with my 3-year old, but I never thought to combine the two to create a fun preschool alphabet activity. I think you’ll love this combination as much as I do, especially if you want to provide more structure during your sensory play time. Incorporating early literacy into play is a great way to engage your child in learning while still having fun.
Letter Hunt Sensory Bin – Preschool Alphabet Activity
- Bin Filler (rice, beans, sand, etc.)
- Storage bin
- Aluminum foil
- Letters (puzzle, magnetic, craft, etc.)
- Variety of stickers
How to Play the Preschool Alphabet Activity
Find a Storage Bin
The first step is to find a storage bin or something similar. I emptied out one of the drawers from our plastic storage tower and used that as our bin. Be sure to use a smaller container so you do not need to use a ton of bin filler in order to hide the letters well. I dumped about five cups of brown rice into the bin. I used brown rice because it’s an easy sensory bin filler that is inexpensive and accessible. Add some food coloring and voila…you’ve got fun rainbow rice!
Your sensory bin filler doesn’t have to be rice. Raid your pantry for any expired dry goods – beans, lentils, corn meal, oats, chickpeas, etc. You could even use sand or shredded paper! Basically, anything that’ll hide the letters well.
Make a Chart
Using your paper, maker and stickers, create a chart of stickers that corresponds with each letter. For instance, we used the letter B so I added a sticker of a ballerina, and a cake for the letter C, and so on. Use whatever matching stickers and letters you have on hand. If you don’t have stickers, feel free to use printed pictures, or even draw your own if you’re artsy enough!
I gathered some wooden letter puzzle pieces and individually wrapped them in aluminum foil. There wasn’t anything special about the letters I chose – it just depends on the matching stickers or images you have on hand. I also didn’t want to overwhelm my daughter, so we only focused on 12 letters that we’ve been exploring most recently. I buried all the letters in the rice and then told my daughter that we’d be playing “hide and seek” with them.
Hide and Seek Time
This was my daughter’s favorite part – digging through the rice to find the aluminum-covered letters and quickly unwrapping them like it was Christmas morning! I always made sure to ask her what letter she found and what sound it makes. Then, she matched up the letter with its corresponding sticker and placed it in the box.
Creative Free Play
Once all the letters were found and we were done with the preschool alphabet activity, we had some fun with the rice. I set up a little dumping station by throwing in some cups, scoopers, and funnels. Next, we played our own little version of Hide and Seek by taking turns hiding a small item in the rice and trying to find it.
After doing this preschool alphabet activity, I realized that the learning opportunities are endless. Try these different variations of the letter hunt for more sensory bin fun:
- Wrap numbers or shapes in aluminum foil and have your child match them to corresponding number/shape drawn on paper.
- Use aluminum foil to wrap animal figurines/animal puzzle pieces and then have your child match them to the corresponding beginning sound (i.e. dinosaur figurine matches up with letter D written on paper).
- Spell our their name! Wrap your child’s name letters in aluminum foil and once they find and unwrap them, have them build their name with the letters.
I’m excited to try all the variations, knowing now how much my daughter enjoyed this preschool alphabet activity. Will you try this two-in-one sensory literacy activity? Let us know if you do try this preschool alphabet activity and if you did any of the variations!
Nataly is a certified elementary teacher turned stay-at-home-mom to two little girls. She enjoys sharing simple yet fun kids activities to help make playtime meaningful!
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