By Chrysta Naron
Have you ever looked at an uppercase A? Really looked at it? It’s tall, angular, and has nice long lines. Now look at a lowercase a. It’s short and round and sometimes even has a little hood on top. You might think, “How are these two symbols the same letter?”
Well, your young child is probably thinking the exact same thing. It’s important for us to help kids learn the connection between uppercase and lowercase letters—that these two symbols are actually one and the same letter!
There are so many creative ways you can accomplish this through play. I love to use food and cooking to teach, but all parents know that where little chefs go, mess follows. Luckily, young children just love pretend play. So I’ve cooked up a little literacy activity that keeps kids entertained in the kitchen while teaching the connection between uppercase and lowercase: “no-bake letters!”
Note: Check out the end of this post to find easy ways to adapt this activity for kids who are ready to move on to practicing letter sounds or even to spelling out simple words.
Cost: Free if you already have alphabet magnets and these other simple materials. If you don’t have letter magnets yet, they’re well worth adding to your teaching arsenal. You can pick up some basic ones for just a few dollars.
- Alphabet magnets
- Metal cookie sheet
- Printer (optional)
Step 1: Write all 26 lowercase letters on a piece of paper. Optional: You can also type them up and print them out if you like. (Check out here why Comic Sans is the best font to use!)
Step 2: Cut out each letter individually.
Step 3: Tape each letter to the cookie sheet. For younger children, place the letters in alphabetical order. For more advanced readers, feel free to mix them up and place them all over the sheet.
Step 4: Time to play! Optional: To spice up this activity, you can invite your preschooler to don an apron and maybe even a chef’s hat to make their own no-bake letters.
Give your child the uppercase alphabet magnets. Now, have them match each uppercase magnet to the same lowercase letter. Thanks to the magnet, the uppercase letters will stick in place on top of the lowercase ones!
If you have a play kitchen, let them stick the cookie sheet in the pretend oven to “bake” their answers once they’ve matched all the magnets. (No play oven? No problem. You can create your own from an old cardboard box. Just cut a door in the side that pulls down, then let your child decorate it.)
What if your child already knows the alphabet? Fear not! I have a couple of handy adaptations right here: Print pictures of everyday objects, animals, etc., and have your child match the alphabet magnet to the picture that begins with the first sound. Try it again, this time matching the last sound of a word.
You can even ask your more advanced writer to spell out the names of the objects with the magnets! Just remember that for this version, you’ll need to pick words that don’t have any double letters.
More than anything, this activity is one that is quick for you to create and keeps your child learning as they age. These are important reading skills and making no-bake letters is a fun way to help your child acquire them. No muss, no fuss! Just lots of learning fun.
*Featured photo by Andrea Alexander