Literacy Spot #21: Playing with Letters

This past week Immy’s interest in the alphabet has exploded. She is pointing to letters all over the place, naming the ones she knows and asking about those she doesn’t. For the first time she made reference to the fact that a capital and lower case version of the same letter were a ‘big A’ and a ‘little a.’ And she is including more and more letter type shapes in her drawing and painting, and labelling it as ‘writing.’

I talked last year about the importance of young children learning about letters through play (no flashcards required!) and I believe that nurturing a young child’s active interest in the alphabet is something that can be done easily and naturally without being forced.

For example, one of the things I have done to support Immy’s interest is refresh her little table that sits in my study. Often she will potter around with an activity while I am working so I set up a mini ‘writing’ centre with new marker pens, some different types of writing paper, envelopes, sticky post it notes, letter stickers and self adhesive foam letter shapes. I have also displayed some of her recent spontaneous alphabet related creations above the table – can you tell what her favourite letter is from the one on the left? LOL

Revisiting the activities from the Learning Letters Playfully post and reflecting on my observations of her current interest, I am  planning to add the following over time if her interest is sustained;

  • Add a set of lower case letters to her magnetic letter set as currently she only has capital letters
  • Add a set of letter stamps and a stamp pad to her little writing space
  • Find a nice alphabet chart to hang above her writing table (please leave a comment below if you can link me up to a great resource suggestion)
  • Some blank cards and decorative stickers to make some cards to send to friends and family members
  • Cut out some large letters from magazines and add with a glue stick

Do you have any other suggestions for playful ways to encourage a child’s interest in letters and writing?

If you are interested in reading a little more about writing centres, visit this previous Literacy Spot post.

What is Childhood 101′s Literacy Spot? It is a weekly reminder of the importance of young children learning playfully as each week I share one idea for playing around with literacy, taken from my many years working as an early childhood teacher. Visit the previous Literacy Spot posts for more fun ideas for playing with literacy.

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  1. This Christmas I got the boys a little used typewriter that I put by their writing area, and we love playing with it! Sometimes I’ll type them up little notes, and they like typing away at it too. I’ve been surprised at how much they’ve enjoyed it, and how it’s helped with letter recognition, and even letter placement on a keyboard. It doesn’t have to do with handwriting, but it’s fun for playing with letters, words, and the alphabet.
    I love Immy’s little alphabet creation– IIII. :-) So cute!

  2. Jodie Van Der Zwan says:

    Hi Christie,
    What a great little writing centre!

    K-3teacher resources has some great alphabet charts and resources (and lots of other great resources). There is a small fee to join, however there are some free resources, including an alphabet chart. All her resources can be downloaded in a variety of fonts.

  3. Hi Christie.. Love your writing center. I’ve found “reading” the newspaper with my toddler really helps. She tries to pick letters that she recognizes and points out words that look familiar.

  4. My daughter loves alphabet stamps and an alphabet flip book that I recently made her. I posted about it here:

    My daughter also enjoys it when she uses the keyboard. She will say a word that she wants to spell, I then say the letters and she types them (she still gets confused that the letters are uppercase on the computer keys, but they come out lowercase on the screen). We experiment with changing font sizes and colours too.

    • Immy also loves it when she types on the keyboard. My Dad gave her on old one to play with ages ago, though she much prefers mine…could have something to do with it being linked to a computer! LOL

  5. Oops, I made a typo when I typed my website. That was me in the previous comment!

  6. what a great center! Very inviting & hands-on which makes it so fun!

    Would love for you to link up to the Sunday Showcase


  7. I am loving this post…

  8. Immy is the luckiest girl in the world – what a cool writing space! While it’s not quite play, my just-3-year-old is in love with retro Peter and Jane books from the 80s that teach you to read. I don’t know what the magic is but he has started wanting to know how to read the words and asks for them over and over again. They are super repetitive (and therefore not much fun for grown ups) but great for letter and word recognition!

  9. Alphabet blocks are great if she’s into building. Kids also enjoy playing hunt-the-letter while reading books (Immy should be able to find plenty of capital A’s in her storybooks). My preschoolers also enjoy it when I ham it up a bit and start writing a letter but making mistakes- eg I might say I’m trying to write an M but I write a W and then turn it the other way up. Making favourite letters out of play dough, blocks and pipe cleaners can be fun too. Just so long as it stays fun!!

  10. Love the writing center! I’ve been meaning to set out more writing tools for our 3 1/2 yo. I want to put out cards and invitations because she loves to play party. Her dry earse board is one of her favorite writing toys.

  11. Sarah Jane says:

    Love your ideas, your creativity and your perspective. I have a little one and above her little table where she creates I have this print… Love it! It is beautiful in person and framed easily.

  12. What about making alphabet soup together?

  13. Alphabet stones for hiding and playing with outside work a treat. Homemade, cheap, cheerful and adored by children and adults of all ages!


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