Learning letters and the alphabet through PLAY is the name of the game right now for little Carter. Using Printable Alphabet Playdough Mats was the activity of the week this time. I wanted to share this awesome (and FREE!) resource with you as well.
First of all, let’s chat teaching preschoolers their letters. With Carter, we are working through the letters and their sounds in a very specific order.
I am sure you know the order by now, but if you happen to be new here, please check out the BEST order for teaching preschoolers their letters (and why and how!) in this post: Which order to Teach the Alphabet
Little Carter is working away on learning his name letters. We have been focusing on the lower case letters first, and will add in the upper case matching letters for his name before moving on to the next grouping of letters.
There are lots of opinions on how to introduce letters, whether you should introduce lowercase or uppercase first, and when you should teach the sounds and sound blending. Enough opinions to make your head spin in fact.
Not to toot my own horn (but sound the trumpets because I am going to), I am in fact a Reading Specialist. It is a pretty fancy title and I worked away researching and learning for many additional courses after I became a teacher to earn it.
I have always found teaching letters, sounds, and learning to read very fascinating. How some little one’s pick it up so naturally while others struggle. I loved researching and digging into this topic.
What I have found, me – the horn tooting Reading Specialist, is that teaching letters slowly and thoroughly in all capacities is best.
Sure sing the ABCs and play with letters in all sorts of fun ways!
But then focus on letters slow and steady. Introduce your child’s name letters as they are written. For example, Carter. Play with those letters lots and then add in the matching “Big” letters. Play with those letters lots and lots. Sound out your little one’s name learning each and every sound.
Don’t worry about introducing the fact that letters can make various sounds — “C” can say /c/ and /s/ — for little Carter, it just says /c/! English is a very tricky language to learn so we start by keeping things as simple as possible. Learning the various sounds letters can make will come further down the road.
This week Carter was making his name letters out of playdough.
First things first, whip up a batch of my Ultimate No Cook Playdough!
I made up some lovely (and FREE!) printable alphabet playdough mats. You are welcome to grab a copy for you and your little ones right here:
Grab your FREE Printable Alphabet Playdough Mats, courtesy of your friendly Reading Specialist!
Carter worked really hard rolling out long playdough snakes. While doing this, he was really strengthening those hand and finger muscles that will be used down the road to hold a pencil.
He rolled and rolled, and hissed like a snake a little – because, what else would a 3 year old do when making playdough snakes?
Once he had made some snakes he looked at his name letters. With a little help he started to see which letters would need one snake (c, e), and which would need two snakes (a, r, t)
He then needed to make a few of his snakes shorter so they would fit on the playdough mat properly. This was a wonderful introduction into proper letter formation!
Carter also liked to push and push those snakes down into the mat.
These printable alphabet playdough mats can be used just as they are (though they won’t last through too many playdough sessions this way). They can also be laminated, or we use clear contact paper (or clear shelf liner) from the dollarstore. Works brilliantly and you can’t beat the price.
Now, little Carter is still learning his name letters, but how could we use these free alphabet playdough mats with our little learners of different ages and stages?
Really young children can simply practice rolling the snakes or trying to “fill in” the very first letter of their name. Simple exposure to a single (important!) letter is a wonderful place to begin.
Children who are moving past the stage of learning their name letters can work on the next grouping of letters.
Other children might be able to sort through the alphabet mats themselves to pull out the letters of their name and help classmates or siblings pull out the letters of their names as well.
If filling in a single snake in the letter is too simple, a more advanced version might be making super skinny snakes to trace around the outside of the bubble letters! This is wonderfully challenging fine motor work.
Finally, names, sight words, spelling words, or words found around the room (depending on a child’s ability level) can be spelled directly on the table without use of the alphabet playdough mats at all!
I hope you and your little ones have loads of fun with this activity friends.
Remember to grab your FREE Printable Alphabet Playdough Mats right here! They are wonderful for so many things.
Thank you so much for reading,
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