Teachers and families are always asking me what my “must have” hands-on literacy activities are for a preschool or pre-k classroom! I gave it some thought and made this post with my favorites from Lakeshore. Students need to be exploring and manipulating real letters and playing literacy games that are FUN and engaging! Friends, these must-haves are all of those things!
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Magnet Letter Titles! These letter tiles are a must-have for any early childhood classroom because they are so much fun to play with. Students can match the letters, line them up in ABC order, build names, or build words with them My favorite thing about them is that one side has the lowercase letter and the other side has the uppercase letter. Use them on cookie pans or a magnet board. They are incredibly versatile!
Letter Lacing Beads! These are my all-time FAVORITE letter manipulatives because you can use them for sensory play. Simply put the letter beads in a colander to make clean up a breeze. Put them in the sensory table, messy sensory play (shaving cream, paint, water, etc.), or use them as a stamp with play dough or just in a play dough tray. You can also use them like they are designed and lace them on pipe cleaners or string. Match the letters, build themed vocabulary words, build sight words, or build names with the letters.
Giant Letter Beads! Now, these letter beads are bigger and easier to lace. They are always on my shelf in the library center and students pick them to play with during centers. These are fun to put out for morning table or arrival time too.
JUMBO Magnet Uppercase Letters and Lowercase Letters! Every classroom needs magnet letters and these jumbo letters are my favorite because they are so big. Students can trace the letter with their fingers. I like to put them at my Stand Up Easel with student name cards or themed vocabulary cards. Makes sure you place a dry ease marker in the tray too so students can write the letters or words after they build them!
Alphabet Sound Teaching Tubs! These little tubs have figures to represent each letter sound in them. Place three letter tubs out on a tray and students can sort the sounds. If you do letter of the day or week these are perfect to use with the letter you are working on. If you are working on a handwriting page or activity with one letter, pull out the matching letter tub and talk about the letter sound too.
Dough Stampers! Playdough is another must-have for the early childhood classroom! Incorporate these dough stampers as an easy way to sneak literacy into the art center or the place you keep your playdough in your classroom. Place the stampers on a craft tray with some pony beads cookie cutter, and rolling pin and you have a very inviting center activity.
Word Building Blocks! If you have kiddos who love Legos, then they will love these! Students can just put the letter blocks on the board randomly, match the letters, put them in ABC order, or make words with them.
Word Building Puzzles (3 piece)! These puzzles are perfect for your students who are ready to start CVC words and segmenting sounds. The puzzles are bright and colorful. Put out all the puzzles or half of the set when you first introduce them. After they put the puzzle together, have them tap out the work touching each puzzle piece as they say they sound!
CVC Dice! These amazing letter dice were designed to be used for CVC games and word building, but I LOVE using them just as letter dice. You can use them for so many letter matching games but my favorite is to roll the dice and write the letter. You can make a quick graph like the one in the photo above. I also sometimes make a giant one on art paper or butcher paper.
Alphabet Learning Locks! If my students had to pick a favorite, it would be a tie between these Alphabet Locks and the Alpha Bots for sure. There is something exciting about unlocking and locking a lock for little learners. The locks have an uppercase letter and sound icon. The keys have a lowercase letter. Now if you have younger students who are just matching uppercase letters, write the uppercase letter on the other side of the key (that’s what I did with mine).
At the beginning of the year, I only put have of the letter locks in the tub so it isn’t overwhelming for my students.
Alpha Bots! If you have little engineers in your classroom, these will be their go-to letter manipulatives. Students have to manipulate it to make it into a letter or back into the robot. It is great fine motor work for those little hands too.
If you LOVED my favorite Lakeshore Literacy Toys and Activities, you have to check out my Favorite Lakeshore Math Toys and Activities. Click the photo below!
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