The good news for parents of young kids is that you don't need to have kids sitting in a desk to teach them letter sounds. In fact, learning letter names and letter sounds can be wildly fun when you get kids up and moving.
Both toddler and preschooler loved hopping, tip toeing, running, and dancing in this game so much they didn't even realize they were learning letters and letter sounds.
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What are we learning?
For kids just starting out with letters, this game can be solely a letter identification activity. You walk across the pathway and whenever you come to a letter, you say the name.
For preschoolers who have familiarity with letters and are working on sounds, they can name the letter and letter sound when they get to a letter.
For a challenge, kids can name a word that starts with that letter or even more challenging, spell a word that begins with that letter. That way they're working on beginning sound identification and spelling!
Before you start, you need:
Painter's tape is a cheap and versatile tool that seasoned teachers and hands-on parents love to use.
I love how easily it comes up after our activities, and it tears so easily so I don't need scissors to use it. I just create a path and go! Get some by clicking my affiliate link below.
Teaching Letter Names and Letter Sounds through play:
I always start off a new activity by inviting my child to play. Be excited to present the activity and it rubs off on them.
Show them your zig zag line and ask them what they think the game is about. Children may have a natural inclination that this will be a game about movement, letters, or both.
Invite your child to move anyway across the line, but stop at all the letters. They can name the letter, name the letter sounds, or say a word that begins with that letter!
Think of all the different ways of moving across the line. Will you dance? Skip? Crawl?
As kids think of more ways to revisit the balancing line, they're exposing themselves to the letters and practicing those names and letter sounds over and over again. The more exposure they have, the more it sticks!
Building Gross Motor Skills While Playing:
So often kids are seated for learning time, but my rule of thumb is that kids shouldn't sit for more minutes than twice their age. When we invite kids to play and move to learn, they jump for joy and learning becomes fun, not a task. How would you rather practice your letter sounds? Sitting in a desk or hopping, skipping, and jumping to new skills?
With my kids, we repeated the game multiple times. Each time we used a different method of movement:
You can make it even more challenging by adding a gross motor movement when they reach a letter. At each letter they could stand on one foot while thinking of the letter name or do a jumping jack while saying the letter's name and sound.
Adding multiple modes of movement will help kids build core strength and coordination that better enables them to better navigate their environment.
Also exercising while learning is much more fun! And bonus, if more than one child is playing, they are practicing taking turns.
Cars and Trains for Letter Sound Skills:
Another idea that came up as we were playing was to use vehicles to drive along the pathway and stop at each letter which served as the parking lot. Small figurines can parade along the blue tape, marching to each letter.
By listening to my kids' as they played and being flexible about how we played, they created a whole new way to practice letters and letter sounds that I didn't even think of! That's the dream right there. I was one proud mama.