When it comes to direct learning which isn't hidden in some form of play Dimples finds it quite a bore, looses focus and doesn't want a bar of it. He hasn't really been interested in the alphabet, reading or identifying letters besides his name until recently so to foster this new interest of early literacy in a fun hands on way that isn't plain boring letter recognition we read the funny story Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and made a Felt Alphabet tree to go with it.
We started with two large postal tubes (you know the ones you send posters in), filled one with some sand to weigh it down, duck taped them together and Dimples painted our soon to be tree trunk brown.
Then we did the branches using paper towel rolls painted green, these were cut and shaped to fit into one another at the top of our tree trunk, then they were also taped down firmly.
Next we used some felt cut in the shape of palm leaves big enough to fit over the rolls, these were hot glued down using a hot glue gun. Dimples helped position and press them down.
What is our tree missing? Dimples come up with the idea of using paper bags scrunched into balls to resemble our coconuts. He carefully helped glue them into position and then we were only missing our Alphabet letters.
The Alphabet letters were also glued onto the felt with a hot glue gun. I found some cheap wooden letters off eBay for a few dollars, you could use those plastic magnetic ones or foam letters but these wooden ones did the trick and stuck nicely with hot glue. First we ordered our alphabet along with the story, finding each letter as we read the pages, then once our tree and glue were prepared I called out letters and Dimples went and found them for me, helping to stick them out. This was great for letter recognition and he found fetching them as quickly as possible lots of fun.
The story gives a good opportunity to discuss why we have upper and lower case letters. Why do we have two of each letter? it also goes over the alphabet with visual cues in both the story and the illustration. Its a very upbeat fun story using rhyme and humor.
Once our letters were on we re-read the story and Dimples reenacted it pretending to be certain letters going up the tree and shaking it when they all fell out. Now we use the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree in many ways, as a story prop and along with letter identification when we read the story. Dimples points to the letters as I sing the alphabet, we combine it with an Alphabet Abacus and a Alphabet placemat and play letter match, we play I-spy; mixing it up so he can search for individual letters.
Learning the Alphabet
Benefits of craft
Identifying individual letters
Discussing upper and lower case letters
Connecting literature, hands on craft and fun
Ideas to Extend with:
A DIY Letter Puzzle
Alphabet match using other forms of the Alphabet.
I-Spy Letter search
A name Letter Recognition Sensory Bag
Use magazines and news papers to go on a letter Hunt for a drawn Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree
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