Learning Letters in Nature Kinesthetically
There are many ways to learn the alphabet. The ideas that follow work well for energetic boys and girls and make a great excuse to go outside. If you need an excuse, that is. They also work well for all kids.
I believe in using different styles of learning to reinforce a concept you are trying to teach because each style uses a different part of the brain. It seems cruel to me to force young children to sit in a seat in front of a blackboard to learn their letters when they could be having a ball of fun outside instead. Kinesthesia reinforces the letters of the alphabet as your child applies his body, moves, and uses nature to build letters.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
“Kinesthetic learning, or tactile learning is a learning style in which learning takes place by the students carrying out physical activities, rather than listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations.” (Wikipedia)
My middle daughter learns better if she moves while she acquires knowledge. When she was young, sometimes she would stand on her head while I read a loud. It used to bother me until I realized she was paying attention and could narrate readings back to me while standing upside down. She does handiwork, crafts, and artwork all while listening and learning.
Here are some ideas to allow your child to move while learning the alphabet:
- Have your child form letters with their body. Copy your child.
- Incorporate sign language into learning the alphabet.
- Use homemade play dough or the real thing to create upper and lower case letters. Create a letter with clay and help your child to copy your letter. (See recipe at end of post.)
- Use finger paints (store bought or edible homemade) to write letters on paper or wax paper.
- Make your own upper and lower case letters on index cards. Play letter concentration; match uppercase letters to lower case letters.
- Find books at yard sales or used kid’s magazines for pictures on their Alphabet Pages (used in Alphabet Smash Curriculum). Cut and collect large letters out of old magazines or discarded books.
- Observe letters when you travel; signs, license plates, and billboards. My kids would see a piece of string lying on the ground or a purposefully chew a pretzel and exclaim, “Look mom! an ‘S’!”
- Cut letters out of sandpaper or other textured material.
- Write letters in sand kept in a plastic shoe box or in a sandbox outside.
- Write letters in shaving cream.
- Sort alphabet macaroni.
- Play the Invisible Letter Game on your child’s arm. Write the letter with your finger and see if your child can guess the letter. Try with capital letters only, lower case letters only, or both. Try this while your child closes his eyes. Allow your child to write invisible letters on your arm, hand or back, too.
- Match upper and lower case magnetic letters.
- Use magnetic letters on your refrigerator or magnetic board and allow your child to place the letters in the correct order. Sort letters.
- Underline, with your child, the letter of the week in text from a newspaper, magazine or old book.
- Create outside letters: Trace letters. Write letters in the dirt.
- Use sticks, leaves, rocks, petals, pinecones and other nature to form and create letters.
In my new book, Alphabet Smash, I use these suggestions to encourage you to teach the alphabet to your preschooler and/or kindergartner. I especially like the last tip, making letters out in your own backyard, in God’s playground, using His creations.
The ideas, colors, and displays are limitless. They will change by the day, the season, the year. Last year’s azaleas do not look like this years. You can do upper case letters, lower case, or both. You can make a letter, have your child copy, or see if your child knows a certain letter and have them go first.
Take pictures of your child’s artwork and creations. Let’s start a revolution and share these pictures with others to encourage all children to learn outside and convince mommas that learning doesn’t just happen in a classroom. Why not take pictures of the letters you and your child create and share them on AKAcHomeschool Mom’s facebook page.
And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t He more surely care for you? ~Luke 12:28 (NLT)
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Matthew 6:29
Each letter of Alphabet Smash includes:
- Character Traits
- Field trips
- Fun Alphabet Activities
- Social Studies
There are also free resources on my website for you to use with each letter:
- Handwriting practice worksheets for each letter of the alphabet.
- Bible verse copy work for each letter of the alphabet
- Clip art for your child to learn to cut and paste for each letter of the alphabet.
- Block letters for your child to decorate alphabetically.
- A 5-day weekly planning sheet to pick and do only what you want to do, from a smorgasbord of possibilities, in your homeschool pre-school.
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If you like what you see, buy the book!
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Recipe for homemade play dough:
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 3/4 cup water
- Have your child mix the baking soda and corn starch in a pot, using hands to break up any lumps. Add water. Put the pan on the stovetop over medium heat and stir constantly. Remove when mixture is incorporated. Have your child knead it into a smooth dough when it cools. Do not over cook or it will crumble.
“When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.” ― Fred Rogers