There's the extremely obvious, pick a letter and name it. Toddler grabs a letter from the pile, mommy (or daddy) names the letter, letter gets set aside and repeat. But don't get stuck in a rut with this simple, effective activity.
Perhaps you envision this as a quiet activity. Sitting side-by-side on the floor. Getting through all 26 letters before your toddler tires of the experience. Wouldn't that be nice? If that's not your reality (whose reality is that!?), seize the moment to get through at least a few letters by making it a game … it's what happens between the letters that ups the fun factor …
- Throw the next letter and have your toddler “fetch” it - I swear, I don't mean that to sound as canine as it does. Whether she is just starting to get around or loves to run, this is great!
- After your toddler names the letter, have him toss it into a bin or run and put the letter on a table across the room.
- Have your toddler help you hide the letters all around the room and then go on a scavenger hunt to find and then name each one. This is a good re-purpose for that Easter basket, too. Natalie loves this!
Teacher Thought: There's also strong research to support the importance of movement in early literacy and learning.
Don't forget these options – with less focus on letter recognition ...
- Sort 1: Is it a Letter or a Number? We make two piles … neatly or with enthusiasm
- Sort 2: What color is this letter? We name the colors and make piles for each.
- Tactile: Look closely at our foam letters and you're sure to see teeth marks. I am guessing that foam feels good on sore gums. I also really love that Natalie has discovered that some letters have "holes" in them and her fingers can fit through. This is great cognition for future letter writing.
I consider these to be beginning foam letter activities. Give these a try, and I'll share some more advanced skills in a later post. Yes, there's more. There's so much more you can do with these letters!
I should also mention that these activities - obviously - work with other letter formats. But I have found these foam letters to be extremely durable, just the right size, and drool-friendly!
*A disclaimer of sorts - all toddlers develop in their own special way. My daughter knows the letters of the alphabet but still struggles to use a spoon and fork with proficiency and often resorts to using her fingers. There's no judgement here, no competition; just me sharing my thoughts :)