These free Preschool Arctic Animal Activity Mats are designed with adorable polar animals and are perfect for teaching preschoolers letter recognition, phonics and handwriting. Add them to your preschool alphabet activities this winter.
3 Literacy Based Arctic Animal Activities
An arctic animals theme always carries interest for preschoolers. The fact that animals can live in sub zero climate where hardly any plants grow is fascinating to preschoolers. It offers a world of interest that is vastly different from (most of) our own.
Plus, have you ever met a preschooler who doesn’t love playing the the snow?
And how can you teach arctic animal activities in preschool without mentioning snow (and doing a little exploring)?
At first glance, this printable just looks like an arctic themed alphabet tracing activity. But really, you can do multiple activities with it and it can be a powerful tool for teaching the alphabet letters and sounds to preschoolers.
FAQ About Teaching the Alphabet
Set aside the flashcards and focus on meaningful activities your preschooler can relate to. The best activities for introducing the alphabet to your preschooler are things like reading picture books together, pointing out print around you, and learning letters of their name.
From there, once your preschooler has developed a strong interest in letter learning, you can then explicitly teach each letter of the alphabet and the corresponding sounds.
The best way, and more fun way, to teach the alphabet is to make alphabet activities as hands-on and tactile as possible. A multi-sensory approach to teaching letters and sounds will help preschoolers experience the alphabet in diverse ways while also making letter learning enjoyable.
Preschoolers will benefit from reading alphabet books, playing gross motor games with letter names and sounds, using magnetic letters, and building letters of the alphabet with hands-on learning tools like these Construction Letter Shapes.
Most children begin learning some letter names and sounds between the ages of 2-3, and most 4-5 year olds can identify all letter of the alphabet. But some children struggle with letter recognition and letter sounds and may not master them until they are six or even seven years old. These learners require different strategies for teaching the alphabet.
That said, just because your toddler is two doesn’t mean you should pull out the flashcards and start drilling letter names. Toddlers learn through hands-on and sensory experiences, so rote memorization will leave you feeling defeated and your toddler feeling frustrated. It’s always best to wait until your child has an interest in letters.
Don’t Forget About Arctic Animal Picture Books
One of the best ways to introduce or deepen any preschool theme is by adding picture books to your lessons. And don’t forget that reading picture books is a fantastic way to incorporate more alphabet activities into your lesson plans.
Here is an arctic themed book list I have put together for you. They are some of any favorite books to use while teaching about arctic animals.
3 Alphabet Arctic Animal Activities
The more you can get out of a free printable activity the better! This one printable has three fantastic preschool activities for literacy that you can do as part of a polar animals unit.
The only prep work here is to print and laminate (or place the mats in a dry erase pouch).
And, I should mention that each set of letters comes in both upper case and lower case mats.
Identify Letter Names and Sounds
The first way this alphabet printable can be used is as an informal letter recognition and letter sounds assessment. Simply show the pages to your preschoolers and ask them to identify the letters and what sounds they make.
I have my preschoolers point to each letter as they say the letter name or sound. If my preschoolers struggle, them I say the letters with them.
See How I Use Them in the Video Below.
These letter tracing mats do not go in alphabetical order but rather they follow the order of how I introduce letters in my phonics curriculum.
Trace the Letters
The second activity you can do with these printables includes some fine motor practice. Simply slip these alphabet tracing pages into a dry erase pocket and have your preschooler practice handwriting with a dry erase marker.
Then have your preschooler practice the letters one more time by using their finger to erase each letter.
It’s difficult to see in the photos, but the letters have direction prompts so preschoolers can see where to begin each letter and where it should end.
Add Letter Manipulatives
Adding manipulatives to this printable opens it up to a few more ways to learn and play, and like I earlier in this post, hands-on alphabet activities are so important to learning letter names and sounds!
One way for preschoolers to use this printable to practice letter recognition is to set up a simple matching activity. By adding letter manipulatives such as magnetic letters, children can simply match the letter manipulatives to the letters on the mat. The font is sized nicely to match typical letter manipulatives, too.
You can also play a “say and cover” game where an adult calls out a letter or makes a letter sound and the child covers the corresponding letter with a manipulative. This can be played like bingo (four in a row wins) or like blackout (cover all the letters to win).
Don’t Forget About Alphabet Picture Books
One of the best ways to get a child interested in learning the alphabet it by reading high-quality, well-written alphabet books. Don’t forget to add impromptu letter activities into your reading as well!
Here is an alphabet book list I have put together for you. They are some of any favorite books to use while teaching letters.
Grab Your Free Arctic Animal Tracing Mats Below
Think these tracing mats would fit in well at your writing center during your Arctic preschool theme? Grab your free copy by clicking the image below.
Remember All the Ways to Use This Freebie
Print out the following card to keep with this printable and file it with the tracing mats. This way you will always remember all the different arctic animal activities you can do with this single printable.
- free arctic animal printable
- dry erase pockets
- dry erase marker
- letter manipulatives (optional)
- Print in color on heavy card stock and place each mat in a dry erase pocket.
Arctic Animal Activities Using This Printable
- Say each letter name and letter sound on the mat and use as informal assessments, letter drills, or rote letter identification and letter sounds practice.
- Trace each letter with a dry erase marker. Get in a second round of tracing by using your finger to erase each letter using proper letter formation.
- Practice matching letters by placing a letter manipulative over each letter on the mat.
- Play "Say and Cover" games. An adult calls out a letter while the child covers the corresponding letter.
- Use these mats to play Bingo or Blackout.
These printable tracing mats follow the same letter order as in Stay At Home Educator's Preschool Literacy Curriculum and therefor do not go in alphabetical order.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.