If you teach preschool, pre-k, or kindergarten, you know how important it is to get in letter identification and letter formation practice as often as possible. But, honestly, it can get boring real quick if you’re doing the same things over and over again! This post is full of hands on ideas to combine alphabet practice and fine motor work – the best of both worlds!
This activity is perfect because you can keep it new by just switching out small manipulatives like rocks or mini erasers throughout the year. I got these flat vase filler rocks from the Dollar Tree. The letter formation cards are a freebie here!
I don’t know about your students, but mine are obsessed with legos. I got these building bricks and the base plate from the Dollar Tree too! Students will make the letters using the building bricks, trace the letter, and then use the bricks to build a picture that starts with the letter. You can find these building brick mats here.
I’ll admit it.. I have a hard time letting go of control, which means paint is usually something reserved for small groups or special occasions. But i’ve recently started testing out cotton swab painting as a center, and my students love it! You can find these cotton swab dabbing mats here.
This is probably the easiest activity to prep – just throw popsicle sticks and these free letter formation cards together and go!
This is an activity I use a lot in small groups, but I also put it out as a morning tub and beginning of the year literacy center. Students love “driving” the letters using toy cars! You can find these mats here.
Connecting cubes are a favorite of mine and my students! They love building letters with the cubes. You can extend this by having them build something that begins with the letter too. Find these connecting cube mats here.
I love these alphabet playdough mats because students can practice letter formation, but they also get hands on beginning sounds practice!
I love using wikki sticks to make letters, but another easy material that you probably already have in your classroom is pipe cleaners.
Bingo daubers are great because they feel like “painting” but there’s about 1000% less mess! I love these dab it mats because I can use them like this, or I can make it new by having students use pom poms or small manipulatives and tweezers to make the letters:
Of course you’ll want students to practice actually writing letters at some point, but that doesn’t have to be with paper and a pencil! I got these mini etch a sketches at the Dollar Tree. I love that they provide a little bit of grit against the stylus so students can feel the letter path. You could also use sand trays or sand paper underneath regular paper to provide that grit.
We love ripped paper art in our classroom, but I never have enough use for the small scraps left behind. These tear it mats are perfect for that! I just throw those scraps in a basket and students can tear them into even smaller pieces to glue on the letters.
This activity is amazing for fine motor, but it’s only for the brave! Print the cards on cardstock and then have students place them on top of a piece of paper. You will also want some kind of backing behind that, such as a scrap carpet square. Students will use the push pin to dot the letter and then lift it up. They’ll be amazed to see the outline of the letter on the paper underneath!
So when do I use these activities throughout the day?
Whenever I can! These are favorites for literacy centers and morning tubs. I also like to use them in my pre-A guided reading groups and intervention groups. If parents ask me for activities to do at home, I also like to send home one of these to make that practice more fun.
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