I need be honest, sometimes I don’t love having puzzles in centers. They tend to get dumped and discarded and mixed up with other puzzles. And then mixed up with other toys. And then the next thing you know letters c and j are missing completely only to be found a few days later in the dramatic play center. Apparently, someone had made some alphabet soup and left some leftovers in the toy kitchen.
Really, that’s not all bad, but you get what I mean.
Sometimes puzzles tend to be more of a mess making opportunity than a learning opportunity. (Although props to the student who made alphabet soup!)
So, if I’m being totally and completely honest, sometimes the puzzles get packed up for a month or so before I have the bandwidth for the mess again.
But, not the alphabet puzzle. It always stays out. Because you just can’t put away a learning tool as classic as an alphabet puzzle. Especially if you can use that one single puzzle to teach the alphabet in five different ways!
That’s right. With a single alphabet puzzle, you have at your fingertips five different preschool alphabet activities. And that’s a great thing, because, like I said, when you teach preschool you teach a lot of letter activities!
5 New Preschool Alphabet Activities to do with One Puzzle
Teach Location Words
Learning location words is actually a component in the algebraic math discipline. Using location words to help your preschooler put together an alphabet puzzle is a great way to work on those math skills while also working on early literacy skills. So try using location (sometimes referred to as positional) words to describe where the pieces should go.
Select a letter and then describe where that piece might fit into the puzzle.
“B goes in the top row. Can you find where B fits in the top row of your puzzle?”
Or describe where letters go according to the location of other letters your child is very familiar with. “It goes next to J. Can you find J? Letter I will go right next to it.”
Play I-Spy with the Alphabet
“I spy letter K. And I spy a kite. Letter K goes with the /k/ /k/ kite. Can you find the kite that goes with letter k?”
But you can do this with any alphabet puzzle. Simply give clues about the letter shapes.
“I spy a letter that has all straight lines. It makes the /k/ /k/ like in kite.”
Use Flash Cards
Yes. Flash cards. Select the lowercase or corresponding letter from the flash cards and show it to your preschooler, inviting him to make the corresponding match in the alphabet puzzle.
If your preschooler is still overwhelmed in matching the letter match, then offer the flashcard as a help. Scrolling through each letter, ask if it matches.
Work in Some Letter Formation
Preschoolers are tactile learners, and that’s especially important to remember in any alphabet activity. Use the impression to trace the shapes of the letters. This is a great skill that aids in learning letter formation, which will help your child distinguish between look-alike letters, thus building letter identification skills.
While tracing, have your child say the letter name and it’s sound. “C. C says /k/ /k/ as in cat.”
Use the Letter Pieces Outside of the Puzzle
The actual wooden letters of any alphabet puzzle can be used in many ways outside the puzzle. Think creatively. They can be used as letter manipulatives. Preschoolers can spell their names or trace the letters on paper.
They can match toys with beginning sounds or, if you don’t mind the mess, even use them as stamps by dipping them in paint! You can even add them to a sensory bin.
Trouble Shooting your Pain Points
Often times, whole alphabet activities can be really overwhelming to children. Looking at twenty-six letters scattered about can be discouraging. If you have an alphabet puzzle that has both upper and lower case, then the task can be even more overwhelming.
Preschool alphabet activities like these help your preschooler feel more confident in their letter skills. It takes a very large task and breaks it down into manageable and fun parts. Then soon your preschoolers won’t be just dumping the puzzle and scattering the pieces about on the floor. Because they will have the skills to use the learning tools more effectively.
Looking for More Preschool Alphabet Activities?
These make differentiated teaching so easy! They are a great way to teach and reinforce letter identification, letter discrimination, and beginning sounds. But best of all, this you will get 12 different puzzle sets, each set designed to target specific early literacy skills. Click the image below for more information.
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.