Inside: Put down the pencil and try these 6 hands-on, fun activities with your little ones to practise letter formation! Scroll down to download the free alphabet mat printable.
These activities are all designed to get children practising letter formation using different sensory materials. They are easy and quick to prepare. Pick and choose from the ideas below to see which your child enjoys the most!
Why bother with multi-sensory, hands-on activities?
Multisensory activities hold so much potential for early writing and have a lasting impact. Using their senses stimulates different parts of children’s brains, making learning letter formation much more memorable and much more engaging. Every time they trace a letter with their finger, they are creating new synapse connections in their brains.
These activities encourage adventurous learning!
Learning early writing can be a daunting task. By removing the paper and the expectation of a finished outcome, we are lowering the stakes and empowering children to feel braver. They are more likely to persevere when they make mistakes, so there are more opportunities for success. If a letter goes wrong? Roll the playdough back into a ball, straighten out the pipe cleaner, wash off the bath crayon.
Writing can happen anywhere, it can be fun and it does not have to involve a pencil!
Download the ABC alphabet mat (link at the end of the post) and choose a group of letters to begin practising first. For example, you could start with letters that make long consonant sounds such as m, s, n, f, l, r, v before proceeding to short vowel sounds. You might otherwise choose to focus explicitly on uppercase or lowercase letters. Encourage your child to use their finger to trace each letter. Or use pipe cleaners or play dough to form these letters.
Related: Check out this YouTube video where I share the best order to teach letters to children.
Multi-sensory play letter formation activities
Letter formation activity 1: Using shaving foam
Spread a thin layer of shaving foam on a tray or countertop to get started.
Letter formation activity 2: Using flour
Sprinkle flour through a sieve to cover the surface evenly first. You could also use polenta, sugar or rice for this one.
Letter formation activity 3: Using pipe cleaners
Letter formation activity 4: Using bath crayons
Letter formation activity 5: Using playdough
Encourage your child to roll ‘sausages’ from the playdough, before shaping them into letters.
Related: For children who seek tactile, sensory input, try these 8 Playdough Learning Activities and read about the many benefits!
Letter formation activity 6: Using squishy sandwich bags
You will need hair gel for this one, although you could use any bathroom product with a similar consistency. Mix gently with glitter or food colouring before spooning it into a double zipper sandwich bag and sealing it tightly. Use tape to secure it to your surface and a rolling pin to spread it evenly. Oily or soapy fingers work best for this one.
Which activity will you try today?
Sign up for Happy Tot Shelf mailing list and get the ABC chart printable and many more fun learning printables inside our Printable Library.
Here are more helpful literacy based activities and resources for you:
- Download this Beginner Phonics Printable Pack and try these fun Hands-On Phonics Activities for Preschoolers!
- Check out this blog post for tips and activities to teach the alphabet and letter sounds, plus how you can make it fun for your little one.
- Try these activities for speech development
- Use these hands-on activities to get children to recognise their names.
- Does your child find it hard to sit down to learn? Check out these gross-motor activities for kids to learn their name.
- Here’s another Youtube video where I share what letters to teach our children first.
- If your child is getting ready to write, try these fun pre-writing activities that do not require sitting down with a pencil and paper.
- If your child needs help, try these 3 Fun Activities to Overcome ‘b’ and ‘d’ Confusion