Letter Name Recognition - Go through a set of alphabet cards with your child (these may be store bought or can be created at home - index cards can work well). Take out those he/she does not know and review those he/she does not know. 

    Alphabet Slap Game - Spread out the alphabet cards. Say a letter and have your child slap the card. Continue until all or most of the cards are identified.

    Alphabetical Order - Mix up the alphabet cards and have your child put them in alphabetical order.

    Reversed Alphabetical Order - Mix up the alphabet cards and have your child put them in reverse alphabetical order, from Z to A.

    Missing Letter - Put the letters in alphabetical order. Have your child close his/her eyes while you remove one or more cards. Have your child open his/her eyes and identify the missing letters.

    Vowels and Consonants - Identify which letters are vowels (a, e, i, o, u) and which ones are consonants (the other letters of the alphabet). Explain that letters have letter names as well as letter sounds. Have your child divide the alphabet cards into vowels and consonants.

    Consonant Sound Recognition - Follow the same instructions as Letter Name Recognition, only check for letter sound recognition. 

    Tracing Letters in the Sand - Materials: A shallow pan filled with sand. Trace a letter in the sand with your finger and have your child copy the same letter in the sand. Have your child say the letter name, the letter sound, and praise your child for his/her correct responses.

    Letter Hunt - Pick a letter and see how many everyone in the family can find. Look on street signs, cereal boxes, envelopes, in books, etc. Make it a game!

    Sandpaper Letters - Cut the letters of your child's name out of sandpaper. Glue these onto a piece of cardboard so your child can trace his/her name with his/her finger and identify each letter.

    Play Dough Letters - Draw a letter on a piece of paper and have your child roll out pieces of play dough and fit and mold them together to make that letter's shape. Have your child try lots of letters and have lots of fun! 

    Magnetic Letters - Place magnetic letters (capitals and lowercase) on the refrigerator or a cookie sheet. Help your child 
    find and put all of the capital letters in one group and the lowercase letters in another. Next help your child match the 
    correct capital and lowercase letters (B with b, H with h, etc.). Talk about the letter name and the sound that it makes.

    Grab Bag - Materials: A cloth or plastic bag filled with 3-4 letters (the magnetic letters might work well for this activity). 
    Have the child close his/her eyes and reach into the bag of letters and select one. Based on his/her touch only, have him/her identify the letter. Have the child pull out the letter from the bag to see if he/she is correct. Variation: After your child pulls the letter from the bag, have him/her write the letter on a piece of paper, say the name of the letter and the letter's sound. Try mixing upper and lowercase letters in the bag as your child's skills develop.

    Letter of the Day - Materials: Newspaper, construction paper, pencil or crayon, scissors. Choose a letter for the day or go through the alphabet in order, assign a letter for each day. Trace the letter for the day on construction paper and have your child color it and cut it out. Give the child a page from yesterday's newspaper and ask the child to circle the letters on the page that match the letter of the day (both capitals and lowercase). Give assistance as necessary. Snacks, activities, meals, etc. can all be chosen because they start with the letter of the day. Example: On "A" day, apples can be the afternoon snack, visit Andy or Anne for play, go to the aquarium, identify all the As on signs, billboards, and businesses along the way.

    Post-it Notes - Write single letters onto small Post-it Notes and place them on items in the house that begin with the sound made by that letter. Ask your child to identify the letter name and the name of the item. The next step would be to ask your child to put the Post-it Notes on items around the house. Then he/she can show you the items that he/she labels (help your child make corrections if necessary; keep it positive).

    Alphabet Book - Cut a piece of paper into fourths, staple them together on the side, and write an alphabet letter on the cover. Using a magazine that is no longer needed, your child can cut out the target letter and/or pictures that begin with the target letter and glue them onto the pages in the alphabet book. Label the pictures.  



    Fine motor skills are used often in school, especially when writing, coloring, and cutting.  

    Suggested Activities to Improve Fine Motor Skills

    * Give your child opportunities to put together puzzles, complete dot-to-dot worksheets, build block towers, color within lines, cut and paste on lines, fold paper designs, and string beads. Give feedback and assistance when needed.

    * Allow your child to hide and retrieve marbles, buttons, or beads from play dough. Emphasize the use of thumbs. Also, 
    encourage your child to use both hands to make balls and other shapes with play dough.

    * Give your child plenty of opportunities to practice tracing lines and pictures. After tracing over a shape, have your child 
    draw smaller and larger samples of the shape.

    * Guide your child in learning how to independently fasten clothing such as zippers, snaps, buttons, and tying shoe laces.

    * Encourage your child to draw pictures with pencils, crayons, markers, and chalk. Provide stencils and templates of shapes, letters, and numbers for your child to use.

    * Let your child string spools of thread with buttons, macaroni, or fruit loops. Encourage your child to create a pattern.

    * Give your child opportunities to play in sand or water by filling and transferring the contents into various containers.

    * Provide marshmallows and toothpicks and encourage your child to build a person, house, etc.

    * Have your child match lids with their paired jars or containers.

    * Let your child use tweezers to pick up various objects such has cotton balls, beads, and pom-pom balls.

    * Have your child duplicate patterns or configurations of beads and/or blocks with and without the use of a model.

    * Have your child tear paper, use a hole punch and scissors for art projects.

    * After seeing a shape, letter, or number, ask your child to reproduce it on paper.

    * Playing games such as Marbles, Pick-up Sticks, Jacks, Operation, and Bed Bugs all help develop fine motor skills and 
    good hand-eye coordination.

    * Provide a variety of materials for your child to use when writing (i.e. paper, pencils, crayons, markers, note pads, cards, post-it notes, clip board) and a handy place to neatly store those important materials (i.e. storage box, drawer, shelf).

    * Provide a special writing area for your child to use (i.e. a desk, a place at the kitchen table, a spot on the coffee table).

    * Provide a special place to display your child's writing (i.e. refrigerator door, small bulletin board).

    * Accept what your child writes. Children go through various stages when learning to write (scribbling, drawing pictures, random letters, inventive spelling). Answer your child's questions about writing and be encouraging.

    * Write notes to your child and put them in special places (i.e. on a mirror, in a pocket, on a pillow). Also be a good model. Let your child see your writing. After all, he/she wants to grow up to be just like you!

    * Provide real reasons for writing (i.e. thank you notes, grocery lists, reminder notes, short letters to family members or 
    friends, stories, signs).

    Some fun ways to practice writing - 

    * Use finger paints - Your child can smear finger paints on a piece of paper and write his/her name and/or various letters with his/her fingers. Encourage him/her to spell words and provide some guidance when necessary. Your child can "wipe the slate clean" to write more words and letters.

    * Use a salt box - Line a small box with black paper and add a thin layer of salt. Your child can write letters in the salt. Gently shake the box to "clean the slate" and start over.

    * Tracing/Drawing Activities - Draw shapes, curly lines, zig zags, and mazes, and ask your child to trace them with a pencil. Then see if he/she can duplicate the drawing by himself/herself.