Here’s a simple, engaging activity for practicing letter or number formation (with bonus sensory stimulation!). All you need is a tray of salt and some letter guides – I’ve written the ones Zeph is using here on card with a pencil line at the bottom of the letter, an orange dot showing where to start writing it and an orange arrow showing the direction of the initial pencil stroke. You could use flour instead of salt if you prefer, but I find salt is less messy.
Today we focused on the letters used to write Zeph’s name. First we sounded out the letters and blended them to read the word and then we took them one by one to try writing them in the salt. At the moment this is a hands-on activity for me, both showing Zeph how to form the letters and talking him through it again as he does it to make sure that he is writing them correctly. I like to take advantage of the times he has interest in learning letter formation and he enjoyed this, but it did pretty quickly transform into playing in the salt with cars!
I’ve seen this car park spelling activity used as a name learning tool on Mummies and Daddies Facebook page. It’s really simple and perfect for car enthusiasts.
As Zeph has been interested in letters and word-making recently, I decided it was a good time to try it out. I wanted to do his name – it’s always interesting to know the letters for your own name, right? Plus it’s probably a useful bit of information for him to squirrel away before starting school. Though if he doesn’t then he doesn’t. However, we learn letters phonetically and ‘Zeph’ isn’t exactly the easiest phonetic word to start with. Plus, he’s just beginning to get how sound-blending works so I also wanted to reiterate that idea to him with a simple word or two. Now, a long time ago Zeph and I made a set of alphabet letters to stick on our wall and some sound pictures to go with them. So I decided on ‘cat’ and ‘ant’ as simple starting words that I had self-made images to represent.
Zeph and I made the car park together while Elly was napping. We cut down a cardboard box as you see, used a ruler and marker pen to draw on car parking spaces and wrote in the words.
I had pre-prepared the letters to stick on the cars on squared paper. I liked using the grid instead of plain paper as it can be used like writing practice lines to show where the letter should be formed. My 4 year old is doubtless oblivious to this yet, but getting used to seeing letters properly placed definitely can’t do any harm and will hopefully help to subconsciously ingrain it.
Zeph counted the letters we had written on the car park and then went to find enough cars to match them. We stuck paper letters to cars using bluetack, and he was off.
He was only really interested in doing the parking activity fully once. I think if the car park had been bigger, with more words, he would have continued with them. But that would have been too much in terms of letter and reading practice. I intended to keep the car park piece to bring out and stick new letters/words on occasionally but sadly it proved not to be long lasting enough for my house!