2 fun Letter Games with Salt

May 30, 2013

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2 fun Letter Games with Salt. Sensory Letter Learning

Here are 2 simple games for children to help practice Letter Recognition and Handwriting.

Adding the sensory element of salt and presenting it as "game" gives this basic and necessary skill practice a different dimension and that fun and interest level that entices children to want to have a go!

Ages: 3+
(See the Handy Tips at the bottom for ideas to Simplify or Extend to meet your child's needs)

Upper Case/Lower Case Writing Challenge

Materials: Table Salt, Dish, Letter Cards (see below to print a copy), scissors and glue. 
Optional laminating pouch. (We use the paintbrush for the next activity)

To make the letter cards I made a simple table in Microsoft Word and put in the Upper Case letters (or Capital Letters), of the alphabet in the grid. I then made an identical table but with the Lower Case letters (sometimes referred to as "little letters") in the grid but with the alphabet starting from right -> left so that when the blank side of the sheets is stuck together and the grid cut out, each card will have the same letter on it with Upper case on one side and Lower case on the other. Stick the grids together, laminate and then cut out. 
(Alternative: just use cardboard squares and write the upper case on one side and lower case on the other)

Click the links below to download your own copy of the Alphabet grids to make your own double sided Alphabet Flip Cards 

Click here for Alphabet Flip Cards (Victorian Cursive Handwriting). (This is the way handwriting is taught in schools in Victoria, Australia which is why I use this font when we do any handwriting activities. These are the cards we used). 

To Play: 
Present the salt in a tray and the pile of letter cards
Explain that they need to choose a card and without looking at the back of the card, pop it in the salt and attempt to write the opposite case to what is shown.

This is a Capital F (or an Upper case F), can you remember what a little f (or Lower case f) looks like?

Being able to self check/correct by simply flipping the card over makes this a good game for a Literacy centre

While children are practicing handwriting it's important to ensure they are starting their letters at the correct point and forming them in the expected way.

The Missing Letter

This is a great game for children to play in pairs as you need 2 people for this game. It would also make a good Literacy Centre game. This game practices letter recognition, ordering and memory.

Materials: Table Salt, tray/tin, Letter cards, Paintbrush

To Play: 
One person chooses one of the letter cards and buries it in the salt tray.
The other person must first figure out which letter is missing and then search the salt tray to see if they were correct.

Maddie (aged 4) found that the easiest way to discover the missing letter was to lay out the remaining cards alphabetically. We sung the Alphabet Song many times over!

Using the paint brush to discover the missing letters was fun!

Handy Tips:

- Simplify the first game by just having children practice drawing the letter that they can see. I would start with lower case letters as these are the letters they will see and use the most often. You could simplify the second game by only providing a few letters at a time and making it a bit of a memory game as to which letter is now missing.

- Extend these activities by having children name or write words that start with the chosen letter. 

- Mix it up by having children draw something that starts with the chosen letter in the salt tray. The other person can try and guess what they are drawing and what the beginning letter is.

- Good to Know. If you are practicing handwriting at home, I would be finding out how they teach it at your local schools so that your child can learn it the same way. It can be difficult re-teaching children how to do it the expected way so if they learn correctly from the beginning it's much easier. Obviously your children will experience text in all different forms and be exposed to a huge variety of fonts that they will need to recognise but it will make it easier in the long run if they learn to write the letters in the expected way to begin with.

Talk with your child about what they are doing while they are doing it. Encourage children to name the letter and the sounds it makes as they choose different letters.

- Check out our most popular post for Learning Letters 
(click on the picture to go to the post)

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What age did your child start showing an interest in Letters?

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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Ideas to keep kids Active! Gross Motor and Movement Fun.

May 28, 2013

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Welcome to  TUESDAY TOTS for this week.
Brought to you by Learn with Play at home (us), Rainy Day Mum,
Growing a Jeweled Rose and One Perfect Day

This Week:
Learn with Play at home is featuring

Ideas to keep kids Active.

These great posts all came from last weeks Tuesday Tots linkup
where we featured "8 Activities using materials from the Recycle Bin"


The following posts all include ideas and activities that will encourage your child to move and get active. The different activities lend themselves to different environments and allow children to practice various gross motor skills, coordination and other developmental areas.

1.  Rainy Day Paper Web from Craftulate

2.  Bubble Recipe and Activities from Blog Me Mom

3. Giant Chalk Keyboard from And Next Comes L

4. Soft Toy Toss from Learn with Play at home (that's us)

5. Let's Dance. Keeping fit with Kids. from Octavia and Vicky

6. 35 Free things to do at the Beach with a Toddler from Nothing if not Intentional

7. 20 Ways to have fun at the Park like KC Edventures

8. 12 Balloon Activities for Kids from Lessons Learnt Journal

9. Water Bottle Skittles from Poppet and Little

Congratulations if you were featured. You're welcome to grab a Featured Button.

Want more Gross Motor Activities
(click the picture to go to the post)

music kids, music activity, music games


Now it's your turn to link up your posts for children aged 5 & under. 

You can check back on all the great ideas that are linked up each week starting on a Tuesday.

Maybe next week you will be featured.

(please read the guidelines before linking up)

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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Invitation to Play and Learn with Plastic Food Painting

May 23, 2013

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With both a toddler and a preschooler in the house, it can be difficult finding collaborative activities for them both that doesn't result in my 4 year old declaring that her 18 month old brother is "wrecking everything!" 
They both love to paint though and when the experience is more about the process than the product, I find they are both able to have a great time creating and learning together.

Today we had some simple explorative painting and printing fun with plastic food.

Ages: 1+
(M=4, N=18 months)

 Materials: Paint (we used a good washable paint with our toddler), a variety of plastic food and paper.

Before setting out this activity I had the children sort through their plastic food to find and collect objects that they thought could make an interesting shape or pattern when printed with.
We then sorted and divided them (for a little extra learning) into 2 categories, "fruit/veg" and "other" foods.

The Invitation to Create

Maddie learnt quickly the art of printing is not to have too much paint on the item otherwise you don't get a good print.

Talk about the colours and the food items as they experience them to teach or consolidate knowledge.

Rolly polly grapes. The different shapes of the materials determined how the children interacted with them.

Setting it out on a low table in the middle of the floor allowed them to move freely around the table to utilise different areas of the paper and easily access materials.

This activity can give you a good chance to talk about healthy eating and different types of foods.

Messy, colourful, creative, sensory fun.

She marvelled at the mixing and swirling of the colours

All done

Who can wash the paint off the plastic food? The kids can!

Dry and currently on the wall. We plan to cut out shapes later to use for making cards and bits and pieces.

Handy Tips:

- Simplify this activity by providing fewer paint colours and materials. 2 different colours and a couple of basic shapes is a good starting point. Or, simplify it even further by providing a single colour paint exploration.

- Extend this activity by challenging children to create patterns considering the different colours and materials available to them. What different patterns can they create? You could also ask them about what each shape reminds them of and what those shapes could be used for to create a picture.

- Good to Know. Try to choose plastic food that is sealed so that no paint gets inside. That way you'll easily be able to clean the paint off and reuse your plastic food as normal.

Talk with your child about what they are doing while they are doing it. A simple commentary such as, "You chose the cheese. It is a triangle shape. Which colour will you choose? Blue!" etc. will help them to make the connections between what they are doing and the terminology used to describe it. 

- Use new language and descriptive words like, "print", "mix", "swirl" "pattern" etc. This will help with their language development.

- Still feeling creative? Here are a few of our other arty ideas for kids. 
(click on the pictures to go to the post)

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Happy creating,
Debs :)

We like to play here as well. Come play with us :)
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