ABC, Weee! Preschoolers Are Learning Letters with Fun Sensory Activities

Photo by Jessica Byrum / Stocksy / 1067663
Photo by Jessica Byrum / Stocksy

By Rachel Ward

Sandy, muddy, dusty, wet, and grimy—kids love the thrill of getting down and dirty as they play, run, and explore (and there’s no use fighting it: Kids will be kids).

But did you know that all of those messy moments are actually building your child’s brain?

“In early childhood, discovering and exploring new textures is a great way to cement learning in place,” says Linda Nelson from KinderCare’s Education team. “Sensory experiences tend to help children remember information more quickly and easily.”

That’s why from infants to Pre-K, kids get the chance each week to dive into water play, mess around with mud, or get silly with sand—and we always make sure to combine those experiences with a lot of learning. And what better time to do that than when we’re teaching preschoolers their letters and numbers?

Sensory Letter Activities for Preschoolers Make Learning a Breeze

A bin full of sand is all kids need to get started—from there, they can dip their fingers in sand and practice tracing letters or numbers. Hooray for sandy fun!

This super simple activity helps kids remember the shapes of letters and numbers, and understand that those letters and numbers are ways to communicate.

Why?

“From birth, children’s brains are wired to learn first through their senses, such as smell, taste, and touch,” explains Nelson. “As they begin building a base of knowledge, sensory activities help to make abstract concepts, including learning letters and numbers, more concrete in a way that they can easily understand.”

We’re prepping kids for kindergarten with fun activities just like this one when preschoolers are in our care during the day. Here are some quick and easy ways you can extend that learning (and textured fun) at home!

Learning Letters with Textures Is Always Fun! 4 Things to Write in at Home

1. Scribble in the Soil

Recreate our activity at the playground or in your backyard! Your preschooler can use their finger or a stick to practice writing or drawing shapes in the dirt. Even scribbles or doodles can help them get the hang of it. Just have fun!

2. Doodle in Bubbles

Get the bubble bath going and have your writer-in-training trace their finger through the bubbles to form letters. How do the bubbles feel on their fingers? Do the letters stay there for long?

Photo by Courtney Rust / Stocksy / 799810
Photo by Courtney Rust / Stocksy

3. Trace Letters on Fabric

Soft textures are appealing to kids! While you’re doing the laundry, keep them entertained and learning by having them “write” letters on clothes made of different fabrics, like corduroy, fleece, or wool. What does the fleece feel like compared to wool?

4. Draw in Cornmeal or Oatmeal

Here’s a messy-but-goody. If they’re in the kitchen with you while you’re prepping dinner, pour some cornmeal onto a baking sheet so they can practice letter-writing in it. Is it breakfast time? Make sure your child has washed their hands first, and then let them trace letters in their oatmeal before digging in!

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