February 11, 2011

Feature Friday - Letter Writing Tray

Rex has been learning his letters in preschool this year.  He loves school, but he gets a little frustrated when he's asked to do something he thinks is "too hard."  They have been trying to teach him to write his name.  He's only three and it's been a little tricky for him, so I've been trying to come up with some fun ways help him practice his letters.  I found a few ideas yesterday while looking at Disney's Family Fun Magazine online.  They have some great activities HERE.
I thought the "letter writing tray" would be really fun.  They explained that you spread cornmeal on a cookie sheet and let your child write in it.  I decided to make it even more fun and use pudding instead of cornmeal.  Yes, it's a messy choice but Rex loves pudding and I thought he would think this was totally cool. 



Turns out he did.  And letter practice......


....turned into snack time....


....which then turned into art time.

I think this time of year gets a little challenging because it's so cold outside and you start to run out of fun indoor ideas.  So, this was perfect for us.  Rex loves doing something new.

I recommend keeping this a supervised activity.  I sat next to him and had a rubber spatula to smooth out the pudding after he drew in it.  I'm pretty sure if I would have left the room for a second I would be finding pistachio pudding in various places of our home for the rest of my life.

So, whip up some alphabet pudding fun if you're bored today.  Do you have any good activities you like for teaching the alphabet?  I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for reading my blog.  You're cool :)

31 comments:

  1. Other fun things to let him "write" his name in are shaving cream and dry rice. Obviously, they wouldn't taste so great but just other ways to mix it up a bit! The shaving cream one is kind of fun because you can use food coloring and do some color mixing.

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  2. This is such a great idea! And, I have to tell you...I love the new look of your blog! ; )

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  3. My daughter has the same problem (part of the reason she's home schooled, really, she'd be running circles around her teachers) anyway, another idea is "letter-cise" no it doesn't get them into small motor skills, but you use your whole body to make the shape of each letter, it's fun, it's funny, and it's educational. Dr. Laura even has a song for it. She's got great music for early learning.
    Our daughter also like to draw lots of pictures, so we showed her how an artist would sign their name to a painting and that got her more interested in writing her name.
    Oh, and we also told her she could get her own library card when she could write her full name. That was a big incentive, though it's a pain because she always wants to carry it and I'd rather it not get lost. And if Rex isn't interested in a library card, just figure out what he would be interested in. I know, it's bribery, but in real life, when we work hard, we usually get rewarded, so why not, right?

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  4. Soap foam in the bathtub is fun, salt instead of cornmeal, I second the shaving cream comment. Also, writing in these mediums with different implements is fun - using a sucker to write in pudding, toothpicks in shaving cream etc. Another good thing to do is when actually using crayons or markers, have Rex write on a slanted surface or art easel, this will help develop his wrist muscles for better writing! A 3 inch ring binder works well with the paper taped to it....ideas coming to you from a bored pediatric occupational therapist on consecutive maternity leaves! I could go on and on....

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  5. Great idea momma, way to think outside of the box! As a preschool teacher I always suggested shaving cream in the shower or bathtub and let them write on the wall. Great way to practice spelling words once he gets to school. Also I always had a plastic bin or small check box of sand with glitter and sometimes even a surprise inside it, and my kids practiced that way. Beans, lentils and pastas are great ways to practice making letters also. Go Rex go!

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  6. I think my 3 year old would have a blast practicing letters that way too. I'm going to have to try it.

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  7. The shaving cream is a great idea! The kids love it! And they love to watch it disappear as they write or draw in it. The shaving cream also cleans surfaces, so they are having fun and cleaning at the same time!!

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  8. I love this idea...! My daughter is in kindergarten and it is so hard to find FUN ways to keep her entertained and learning!

    My mom used to have us rub a ton of lotion on her back and then write words in the lotion. She would then guess what we were writing. It was a win-win-win. :) Mom got a back rub (kinda), we practiced letters, and it was an exciting game! (At least, until we learned that she got the best end of the deal!) hehe!

    Love the blog!

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  9. My almost 2 year old would love this... my 3 1/2 year old, not so much. He hates to have his hands dirty, but maybe the pudding will help. Thanks for the idea:)

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  10. That is a very cool activity!!! Bella just turned 3 in Dec. and just started preschool in Jan. She has not started writing letters at all. not sure when this will start. Rex looks like he is doing an awesome job!!! Way to go buddy! brooke
    brookedouglass@yahoo.com
    Girl Boy Girl Inspired

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  11. this is so fun, cookies sheets are good for EVERYTHING. We've been playing magnets on ours. You can never stockpile enough of these indoor winter activities!

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  12. I love the change you made. Something yummy is always better. Maybe a Gogurt would work too.

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  13. weve used the shaving cream trick for my nieces but thats sure the heck isnt as fun as yogurt.

    i added you in my friendly friday post!
    have a great day.
    http://alekshandmade.blogspot.com/2011/02/friendly-friday.html

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  14. As a kindergarten teacher, there are a few fun activities I've used in my classroom. The pudding is a great idea! While sand, salt or cornmeal aren't such tasty options, the one benefit is that the child just has to give the tray a tiny shake to erase and start over. (For many of my students, the shaking was the best part!) As an added bonus, the child develops muscle control as they learn not to shake too hard. You'll probably want to use a pie plate or tray with higher sides than a cookie sheet, though.

    Forming letters using modelling clay is another popular one. You can use a softer clay, such as play dough, or up the fine motor workout by using something harder, such as plasticine.

    Finally, many children struggle with writing because they don't have the fine motor skills or don't grip the pencil properly. To work on these skills, you can have your child use tweezers or small tongs (the kind you would use in an ice bucket) to transfer small objects (sea shells, dry pasta, cotton balls, you name it...) from one container to another. This strengthens the pincer grip, which we use when we write.

    Two amazing blog resources I've come across are:

    thewritestart.typepad.com
    (Jennifer Hallissy also has an awesome book out called The Write Start.)

    www.playfulearning.com
    (Mariah Bruehl has a book coming out in August.)

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  15. Dry erase markers write on windows and mirrors and wipe right off - my kids love to draw that way. For letter recognition with my son we wrote letters and sight words on balloons and taped them around then he would shoot them with his nerf guns.

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  16. Love the idea. I've also used whipping cream instead of shaving cream, because it would be ok if the kids end up putting it in their mouth.You just have to beat the cream until its the right consistency, then put it on a cookie sheet or a tray.You can also let them "paint " the cream by giving them a small spray bottle, with water and food coloring inside( also edible)They love watching the colors change, and mix them together!

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  17. My favorite ABC tool is checking out ABC books from the library. There are a ton to choose from and it also help them explore other things while still learning the ABCs. My 2-year-old carries the books around and points out/ recites each letter.

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  18. when my kids were little i would write a letter on a plain piece of paper and then have them cut out things from a magazine that start with that letter and glue them on - this is best for learning letter sounds. it kept them occupied and they learned at the same time.

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  19. Put the pudding in a zipblock bag and tape it shut. Then lay it flat an mush the pudding around so it is spread out evenly and you can't see too much of the surface underneath. then trace letters in it. No mess, still fun. :) Though, we do the messy thing regularly. :)

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  20. I use ketchup or paint in a gallon sized ziploc bag. Just squirt some ketchup(cause I always have it in the house) and get all the air out and let him write without worrying about the mess.

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  21. I've already seen a couple of my suggestions in the previous comments, but here's another recommendation as well.

    I swear by the Leapfrog videos-Letter Factory specifically. Both my boys learned their letters and letter sounds really early from that video. When my youngest was two, he could tell me the sound every letter makes, and it was solely from the video (and we really didn't watch it that frequently either). I plan to use it for my one year old daughter as well.

    I realize that's not really an activity, but it's certainly a good supplement to other learning activities!

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  22. Love it! Mommy needs to work on her alphabet too! ;)

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  23. Take one letter for the whole week and practice writing it. Write it for them and have them trace it. Find words w/ pics that have that alphabet letter to make it fun too. Highlight or underline the first letter to help associate.

    I made a simple memory game out of the alphabet and my 3yr old daughter loves it!

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  24. Wow! What helpful comments. I don't really have anything to add. My kids picked up pretty fast on learning their letters and sounds, but it has been a struggle to get them to write (one is barely 5 and the other is almost 4). I have seen ideas like this and thought - what a good idea but never actually followed through. Perhaps this will be the final inspiration (both your post and the seriously good comments!)

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  25. two words of wisdom that has my 2 year old writing every letter in the alphabet-
    Magna Doodle!

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  26. I think with boys the more creative and hands on the better - at least with mine it seems to work. My 5yr old gets bored easy and I have a hard time getting him to concentrate and write his spelling words (I know spelling words in kindergarden -crazy) Some of the things we have done are the cookie sheet with rice or flour in it, playdoh with letter cookie cutters or roll into a "tube" and form the letters, dry erase board, magna doodle, writing in the steam in the shower, and a few weeks ago he wrote on his little brothers tummy with washable markers - just keep it fun- if you stress about it or demand perfection then they loose interest.

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  27. I love that you weren't afraid to get messy! I just finished up a post about bubble painting that I did with my preschool class and then recreated at home {it'll be live next week}. My preschool parents were a bit worried about the mess but the kids had a blast and all got cleaned up in the end. I can't wait for warmer weather and more park time ~ we're going a little stir crazy ~ I can only watch CARS so many times! If you check out my blog and click on "preschool" there are some fun indoor craft ideas that I've been doing with my 3 year old guys this winter. Thank you, thank you for sharing! Have a fabulous weekend!

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  28. I have "alphabet tracing" app on my iPad. My son has done surprisingly well writing his letters with this app. (and it's free)

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  29. My son and I were just playing with pipe cleaners. I kept molding mine into different letters. We moved from M to W. Then E and 3. it was interesting to show him how one shape could've different letter (number) depending on how it was turned. Also how b and d and h and n all look similar.

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  30. I teach (well, taught, I'm on a one year maternity leave hiatus!) kindergarten for 10 years. I have to say I hear this question (or sometimes concern) a lot. I honestly get a little worried when I think about parents stressing out or working hard at teaching letter formation to kids this little. This is NOT a criticism of YOU or of exposure to the alphabet. I just fear that pressure is on and kids are feeling like they are failing before they even begin. I like the way you are doing it, with fun, no pressure, largely gross motor exposure at his interest level. Kids used to learn these things IN kindergarten. Now I feel like 3 and 4K teachers are expecting mastery of alphabet sounds and formation BEFORE kdg. This is just not developmentally appropriate at all and especially challenging for boys. I say keep doing what you are doing, making it fun so he doesn't get frustrated and develop a negative attitude about school. Keep having fun. Even if he drives his trucks or trains over roads or tracks made in those shapes to get the "motion" of it he is still learning directionality and forms. Kids are little only once, for a very fleeting amount of time, and they will be in school for a LOONG time!

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  31. an AMAZING curriculum (should you need or want it) is www.hwtears.com
    I'm NOT a salesperson or even related to the company. Just a mom/teacher that BELIEVES in the program!

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