Learning the letters of the alphabet can be difficult for some and easy for others. Some kids love letters, while others want nothing to do with them, leaving their parents angered and frustrated on how they are going to master this critical life skill for reading and writing. Many parents often tell me how their children don’t like to sit with them and work on pencil and paper tasks but they will with their teachers and other professionals. So my little nugget of information in this area is to find a tool that is not always pencil and paper and combine it with activities kids like to do.
These Alphabet Smart Blocks by Kristin’s Gifts have found a permanent home inside my OT bag. These small yellow interlocking blocks have various uppercase letters, numbers, punctuation marks and blank spaces. I’ve essentially got 1 bag of portable educational toys and games that I can modify for a variety of age groups as I travel from building to building throughout the week working with kids ages 4-14.
The blocks also come with a Writing Trainer which is a tracing template for both print and cursive where children can use a pen in the plastic template and trace the letters for kinesthetic multi-sensory learning (pictured in pink above but mine is yellow). I’m personally not a huge fan of tracing unless you immediately follow it up with the child trying to make the letter on their own right after. Tracing your letters and templates without reinforcing the actual skill for some kids becomes nothing more than a dot-to-dot activity where they live for the next clue. The cursive template looks to be crafted from a D’Nealian type handwriting program. Check with your child’s school to find out what their curriculum is so you are consistently teaching them using the same language and stroke formation of the instruction they are receiving from others . None-the-less, while I’m not the biggest fan of the Writing Trainer, the blocks in this pack have been an amazing tool for me and the kids fight over them.
These are some of the fun activities I’ve done with the Smart Blocks letters:
-For preschool aged kids and Kindergarten students learning letters, hide a select few around the room that make up their name and see if they can find them, then sequence them in order.
– You may need to write their name for them to match first before and eventually see if they can do it on their own. Mix in different letters over time and see if they can differentiate what’s in their name or not. Then work to adding their last name.
-The empty spaces in these blocks are great to teach older students (Kindergarten and First Grade) about leaving spaces between their words and punctuation
-The numbers can also be used for recognition, just like when learning the letters for a child’s name, or then configured for some multiplication, division, addition and subtraction problems
-I use them a lot for kids who hate to write, they voice their answer to me, we craft the sentence using the blocks, then they copy it on to the paper from this as a model
Don’t go looking for these in stores, you can purchase these online direct from KristinsGifts.com, Overstock.com, flash sale sites and places like Zulily.com.
What ways have you creatively helped your children to learn about letters and numbers?
Kristins Gifts provided this item free to facilitate this review. The opinions are my own.