Learning to write letters is a BIG part of preschool and kindergarten! But finding ways to give your kiddos practice that is BOTH developmentally appropriate AND fun can be a challenge! And it becomes even more of a challenge if you’re teaching virtually or if your kiddos are not allowed to share materials. That is exactly why I created Letter Kits! These letter kits for preschool and kindergarten are a fantastic way to give your kiddos practice forming letters that they will LOVE! Keep scrolling to see what I put in them and how I use them!
What Are Letter Kits?
I’ve always had lots of activities in my classroom for my kiddos to use to practice forming letters. I sneak it into any and every center I can! We use dry erase markers, play dough, Wikki Stix, and sensory bins as a few examples. But… this year I’m teaching 100% virtually, and I needed a way to recreate these same hands-on activities for my kiddos who are learning at home. That’s how I came up with the idea of Letter Kits! I figured out a way to get ALL of these activities (and the materials you need to do the activities) into a kit that my kiddos can use at home almost as they would use learning centers in my classroom!
What’s In a Letter Kit?
Here’s what I give to each kiddo in their letter kit:
- Letter tracing cards
- Play dough letter cards
- Sensory bin letters
- Half of a sheet protector
- Dry erase marker
- Pom pom
- Play dough
- Wikki Stix
- Mini sensory bin with colored rice
Now, I know you’re probably thinking, Wait a minute, Stephanie. That is a LOT of stuff to make for an ENTIRE class of kids. Well, you are right! It is a lot! But, just take a breath and hear me out. We did NOT do it all at one time! We are in the process of working towards having ALL the different sets of letter cards printed, laminated, and cut. But it is a HUGE undertaking that just takes a LOT of time! In the meantime, we are sending a set of all the cards for one letter home with the kiddos each week. (We do materials pick up every Friday.) But, because my TA is a rock star, we’ll have all the cards for all the sets finished by the end of the week! WOO HOO!!
Now, let’s take a look at each activity a little more closely!
Play Dough Letters
Anything involving play dough is always a hit in preschool and kindergarten! And these play dough letter cards are no different! The way the letters are printed on the cards gives your kiddos a guide as to where each snake or ball of playdough needs to go. Just make sure you teach them how to roll snakes and balls before you start having them form letters!
When I use these in my classroom, I store everything they need in one place. I usually put all the letter cards and some playdough into a tub that they can pull out and take to a table. In the past, I’ve added trays or mats for them to use under their play dough cards, but what I found is that they usually didn’t use them very much because they got in the way more than they helped. So, now, I just give them the letter cards and the play dough!
Letter tracing is always a favorite because my kiddos always LOVE using dry erase markers! They can practice tracing the letters over and over and over again! They love to write and erase and write again! I do have a couple of hacks that will make your life a LOT easier with this one!
First of all, sheet protectors are a MUST-HAVE!! You don’t need anything fancy or expensive. The cheaper, the better! Train your kiddos how to slide the tracing cards into a sheet protector before they trace. They can write directly on them, and the erase like you wouldn’t believe! Plus, if they get messed up, you can just throw them out and pull out new ones! I do cut them in half for this activity since the tracing cards are only half a page. The result of that is half of each sheet protector that you can’t use because the top and bottom edges are both open. But, if you don’t want to waste half of each one, just tape one edge of it closed with scotch tape and you can use both halves!
My other hack is pom poms! These have become my go-to erasers for dry erase activities! I love them SO much as erasers because they are super cheap, AND it adds a whole new dimension of fine motor work to any dry erase activity! I always make sure I’ve got a good supply of them on hand!
This activity is a little more complicated and takes a little more training. I don’t use this in my classroom until second semester when my kiddos’ fine motor skills are a little more developed. but, when I do introduce it, my kiddos LOVE it!
If you’re not familiar with Wikki Stix, they are basically strings coated in wax. So, they are bright and colorful, they bend any way you want them to, and they don’t permanently stick to anything. So, you can stick them down and lift them up over and over again! Here’s how this activity works:
First, your kiddos use the Wikki Stix to form the letters. (I use the same cards for this as I do the letter tracing activity!)
Next, they lay a piece of paper over the letter card and Wikki Stix. They use the side of a crayon (with the paper label removed) to rub over the paper. They will start to see crayon marks where the Wikki Stix are, leaving them with a rubbing of the letters they made!
It is seriously like magic to them! Just make sure before you use this activity that you’ve peeled the papers off the crayons and that you really spend time teaching them how to turn the crayons sideways to do a rubbing. If they try to use the crayons the way they always do, you’ll end up with a lot frustration and tears!
One more suggestion for this one… if your kiddos just aren’t quite there with their fine motor skills yet, they’ll probably break a lot of crayons while they’re trying to do this one. If that happens, you can always wait and reintroduce the activity later, OR you can switch to jumbo crayons. They are a little easier to grip since they are bigger, and they definitely don’t break as easily!
Ok… I saved this part of the letter kits until the end because it is my absolute favorite! My kiddos love, love, LOVE to use these both at school and at home! I found these little plastic containers that worked perfectly for individual sensory bins! I gave each kiddo one cup of colored rice in a baggie with their containers. And they use the sensory bin letter cards as a model for writing the letters in the rice! The cards fit perfectly in the lids that flip up, so they are super easy to use!
One note about this activity: I made sure I told EVERY parent to put a cookie sheet or a tray under the sensory box to make clean up easier. Even if the whole thing doesn’t spill, there WILL be some stray grains of rice that come out of the plastic box. Having something under the box just makes it some much easier to get those grains back in! Also, one cup of rice to too much to put into the plastic box all at once, but I wanted them to have extra in case they did have a spill. Half a cup is just about the right amount for writing letters!
So, there you have it! That’s everything I put in my Letter Kits for my virtual learners and how to use it all! If you want to grab a set of the letter cards for all the activities, make sure you go visit my TPT store! The whole set is available in one easy download!
You might also want to check out these easy-to-prep STEM ideas for learning shapes! They work at school or at home just like my letter kits do!
I’ve also got some great digital busy boxes you might want to check out! They are great for virtual learning or as at-home activities during your in-person learning!