Tuesday, 28 January 2014

25+ hands-on learning activities for exploring the letter A

My daughter recently turned four years old and announced that she wants to learn how to read. Well, I must confess, I have never taught a child how to read from the beginning. Being a school teacher, my students would come into my classroom with prior knowledge and be there for a short amount of time before the year ended and they would move on to the next grade. But as a home educating parent, I have the absolute pleasure of watching my children learn to read...from the VERY beginning! 

After a lot of thinking and reading and more thinking, I've decided to start our process of learning how to read by learning the letters of the alphabet, working on letter and sound recognition, as well as being able to write the letters, capital and lower case. Sounds like a lot of boring writing right? Wrong! Here are some of the learning activities that my daughter has done over this past week that has involved fun, colour, fine motor, sensory engagement, reading, writing, talking, imagination and PLAY!
My daughter is a very independent learner so I put together all the Letter Aa learning resources that we had into a little box and presented it to her. This way she could explore the resources and select the activities at her own will (I also put together other activities "outside" of the box too).
1. Letter Aa Book
We first started with the Reading Eggs Alphabet Book that is all about the Letter A. We talked about the letter on the front and pointed to the Letter A each time we 'read' the words (using the picture as a guide) on the page.
 2. Sound of Aa
Once we had talked about the name of the letter we learnt about the sound of the letter. We listened to the Jolly Songs on our CD and sang the song, "a/a/ Ants on my arm".

3. Stamps
I made some stamps from old corks and used a foam Letter A stamp to create a fun stamping activity. My daughter stamped on an ink pad first followed by paint. She sang the "Ants on my Arm" song as she stamped.
4. Sensory Box
I put together a sensory box as my daughter loves to engage in imaginative play. Using her favourite colour (pink!) I coloured some rice and placed all the Letter A things that we could find in it from around the house. 
5. Puzzles
Hiding in our sensory box was two small puzzles about the Letter A. My daughter came up with the idea to hide the puzzle pieces around the house to go on a puzzle hunt and that is what we did!
  6. Play dough Letters
I had placed a copy of Letter A play dough mats sheets in the Letter A box. So my daughter coloured them in and we laminated them so she could practice forming the Letter A from play dough. 
7. Peg Board Writing
Using the play dough mats she had made, my daughter used our peg board to make her Letter Aa.
8. Pipe Cleaner Letters
Again, using the play dough mats as a reference, my daughter formed the Letter A using pipe cleaners. This was somewhat tricky for her so my help was needed.
9. Letter writing in paint
We had fun writing the Letter A and drawing pictures in the paint. I think I added to much paint so it was hard to see the letter that had been written but it is a great sensory activity.
 10. Tracing Sheets
I had printed off a copy of some Letter A tracing sheets and had placed them into the box. I got them from Letter of the Week and some FREE printables from 3 Dinosaurs.
11. Threading
I had made a Alphabet Lacing Letter A out of an old cardboard box and used a hold puncher to make holes in it for threading. 
12. Building the Letter A
I found these FREE printable Alphabet Lego Cards that I put together and placed in the Letter A box. These cards help her constructed the Letter A.
13. Computer Learning
When my son was younger, I had purchased Alphabet Express workbook and software from School Zone. The workbook has remained untouched but the software has been used many times over. This software is interactive and focuses on identifying items that start with that letter/sound while developing computer skills.
14. Writing in Salt
Encouraging my daughter to write the Letter A on her own, I put a little tray of salt and a Letter A card in front of her. She quickly mastered writing the capital Letter A but the lower case 'a' was challenging for her. This activity really helped boost her confidence. 
15. Phonic Puzzles
In the Letter A box, I had placed some of our Shake and Make Word game so that my daughter could build/spell words with the short Letter A sound in the middle. We used the picture to 'read' the words on our puzzle and found all the Letter A's on each puzzle.
16. Letter A Cookies
Another thing we love to do is cook together. So using our Letter A cookie cutter, we made the cookie dough and made cute Letter A cookies for afternoon tea.
17. White Board Writing
This was the moment that I knew my daughter had got it. She asked me to come and have a look at her Letter A she had written and this is what I found written on our white board...proud mummy moment.
18. Phonic Letter A Books
One of the first things I put into our Letter A box was books....we LOVE books. I selected books that such as these ones as they are rhyming books (building phonemic awareness) as well as lots of letter A's in them that we could find. 
 19. Letter Applications on the ipad
My daughter also used the Eggy Alphabet ipad app ($1.99) to further explore the Letter A. She can make the Letter A by selecting dot-to-dot, copy the letter or by drawing the letter. 
20. Finding the Letter A in Stories
It doesn't matter what book it is, there will always be a Letter A somewhere on each page. We used Nick Butterworth's book, My Grandpa is AMAZING, to find the Letter A as we were reading. However, the different font was a little tricky to spot the Letter A.
21. Stencil Writing
I had put some alphabet stencils (lower and upper case) into the Letter A box for my daughter to write letters with. 
22. Ant Craft
I was looking for a craft (beginning with the short 'a' sound) that we could make and found this ant craft that daughter (and son) was keen to make. Painting is great fine motor development and I love that she made it pink...reflects her personality nicely!
  23. Letter A Beading
We used beads to make patterns and thread the Letter A beads while building fine motor strength needed for writing and learning early maths concepts.
  24. Dot Marker Letter A
My daughter loves using dot makers so I had printed off these dot pages and had placed them in her Letter A box.
25. Chalk writing 
Another spontaneous writing of the letter A occur when we were outside playing. I have loads of chalk outside for my kids to draw all over our concrete and that is exactly what my daughter did...she wrote both capital and lower case A!
Each of these learning activities were repeated a number of times as my daughter led the learning. We put together a little book of all her Letter A sheets that she had completed to make her own Letter A book.
Hope you found some ideas that you can use and if you have any ideas or links that you would like to add, leave a comment. 

This blog post has been linked up with:

I Can Teach My Child

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