I have a quick and easy learning activity for you today.
Lesson: Alphabet Matching Puzzles
Concept: Matching Uppercase to lowercase letters / letter recognition
Works best for: 3-5 year olds who are learning their letters (I had this as an activity in my alphabet center in my kindergarten classroom however, and even those older children enjoyed this activity.)
Children are typically only taught the capital (or uppercase) letters at first. We are concerned about overwhelming them, and giving them too much information. We think they won’t be able to master both sets of letters, so we simply teach them the uppercase letters, and say, “Well, he/she’ll learn the rest in kindergarten.” While your child WILL learn the lowercase letters in kindergarten, I am a firm believer in not only giving your child a leg up on their education, but in pushing your child in their learning. There is a concept in education called the “zone of proximal development.” This basically means that educators shoot for teaching their students something just a bit out of their current ability. It is something attainable and reachable, but something the student will need to work for just a bit. I have been amazed at how much children are actually capable of, and have always enjoyed pushing the expectations with my own children and my former students.
Towards that end, let me just say that your child IS capable of learning and mastering BOTH the uppercase AND lowercase letters simultaneously! (If you are a flash-card type of mom, I highly recommend purchasing a set that has the two letters next to each other on the same card. I did this with Hannah, and then when I went to start working with her on the lowercase letters by themselves a few months later, she already knew them.)
Okay, enough of my teacher soapbox time..Here are the materials you will need:
Materials: A fun notepad (A school supply store, such as Learning Palace has TONS of cute pads.) Choose a fun shaped pad, and nothing with lines. (Ie-notebook paper will NOT work for this.)
a sharpie marker
(I laminated mine, but had easy access to a laminator at the time…It isn’t necessary if you use a heavier paper and/or keep these away from food/drink, and younger siblings.)
Construction: On each sheet of paper, write the capital letter at the top of the page, and the corresponding lowercase letter at the bottom of the page. Once you have a sheet for each set of letters in the alphabet, cut the individual sheets apart like a puzzle. You will want to try to cut each sheet differently, so that your child can only match the correct lowercase letter with the uppercase letter. (If every paper was cut with the same squiggle, the task could seem impossible, and much harder for your child.) The idea here is to create 26 separate letter puzzles for your child, where he or she is matching the uppercase to lowercase letters.
Procedure: Depending on the age of your child, determine how many of the letter sets you want to start with. Giving a young child all 26 will seem daunting and they will lose interest (especially if they become frustrated or overwhelmed.) If your child is older and already knows their letters, feel free to give them the whole set. Demonstrate a few of the puzzles for your child, showing them how to match up the letters. Say, “Hmm, I see a big A here….I wonder if I can find the little a.” (I very much recommend having a sheet with examples of what ALL the letters look like for your child. You can easily make this as a Word document, simply typing out the letter pairs together with a large, easy to read font (one that doesn’t use the “funny” g’s or a’s -like this one does!) Then show your child what the lowercase “a” looks like, and have them help you find it. Show them how the two pieces fit together to make the note pad shape. (I personally have a set that is a monkey in a coconut tree, and one that is a big penguin.) Help them through this activity the first few times, slowly handing over more responsibility each time.
Variation: Another fun variation to do with this activity, is to write a capital letter at the top of the sheet, and a word that starts with that letter on the lower half. (Ie- A on the top, and alligator on the bottom.) Start the word on the bottom with a lowercase letter (so don’t use a proper name!). This is a fun and slightly more challenging game for older children.