Click for Resource Room
rainbow kids
Rainbow Resource Room
Click for Activity Central

Print this Page

A collection of early childhood activities that enhance letter recognition and vocabulary.  Plus activity plans based on classic picture books and nursery rhymes.

Click the Rainbow for The Rainbow Resource Room
Click the Schoolhouse for Activity Central
resource line

Letter of the Week Box
Promote learning the letters of the alphabet with this weekly activity from Teresa B.

Materials: Assortment of magazines for cutting, 4-5 items starting with the letter of the week and a shoe box.

Description: In advance teachers cut pictures from magazines that start with the letter of the week and glue them to the sides of a shoe box.  Collect items that start with the letter of the week and place them in your box.

During circle time pass the box around and have each child pull one item out of the box and identify it. Explain to the children that all these items begin with the letter of the week. Each week that a new letter is introduced cut out pictures and add to your letter box.

Comments: We do this activity each time we introduces a new letter. As we continue this activity we have a large box that we place the items from each week into and the children revisit the box to review and play on their own. By the end of the year we  have several items in the large box for each of the letters in the alphabet. 

Graphing Apples
Kindergarten and pre-k children recognize the sound of Aa as in apple and use tally marks and read a graph during this activity plan by Jolyn.

Materials: 1 red apple, 1 yellow apple, 1 green apple and cut outs of apples in all 3 colors.

Description: After a whole week of study on the sound of Aa, I cut up 3 apples and let the students take a taste test to see which is their favorite apple.  They then take a cut out of  that color apple and place it on a big floor graph that can be made from butcher paper.  We then do tally marks on the board to make sure the graph is correct. 

Don't forget to take a look at the entire Apple Theme

Alphabet Game
Young children recognize the alphabet and have fun at the same time during this early childhood activity by Chris.

Materials: Two teams and alphabet cards.

Description: Have children break into teams and start with the child in the first row of team 1. Show a card and ask "What letter?" If that child can't answer go to next team for 2 points so on and so forth.  The team with the most points wins.  Prizes for winners may be large stickers, runner ups receive a smaller sticker.

Comments: The kids were so excited because it was competition but no hard feelings because everyone came out a winner!

Slippery Writing
Help children learn to form the letters in their name with this activity by Melissa L.

Materials: Permanent marker, vinyl place mat and fingerpaint.

Description: Teachers write each child's name on a piece of vinyl place mat and encourage each child to fingerpaint over the letters in his name. Cleanup only takes a swipe with a wet sponge.

Word Match-Ups
Help children put letters together to make words during this activity by Melissa L.

Materials: Magnetic letters, magnetic board, pictures with the word next to it.

Description: Teacher make up picture cards with the word and picture next to each other.  Place them on the magnetic board and the children match the magnetic letters to the letters on the picture card. 

Fingerpaint Slates
Preschool children can practice letters or writing their name with this magic board by Pixie L.

 Materials: Large ziploc bag, masking tape, and fingerpaint.

Description: Place three tablespoons of fingerpaint inside the ziploc bag.  Flatten bag on the table to remove as much air as possible.  Close top securely.  Tape the top of the bag to make sure it will remain closed.  Now, have the children use both hands to flatten and spread fingerpaint out smoothly inside of the bag.  Children may then draw designs into the color by pressing with their fingers.

 Comments: I call this a magic chalkboard.

Autograph books
Encourage preschoolers to write their names and recognize the names of their classmates with this activity by Nancy D.

Materials: Construction paper cut in half,  staples, markers and

Description: Staple 4 pages to make an autograph book for each child.  Ask each child to write their name on the front page and decorate it how they like.  Ask them to go to all of their friends and have each child write their name in each other's books.

Comments: The children loved this we did it on their last day of preschool and they had a ball getting all of their friends names.

Literacy: Bushy Tail Finds A Home
Mrs. C. suggests this flannel board story for language development.
  The name of the story is Bushy Tail Finds A Home.

 Materials: Enough flannel to make a squirrel, mouse, tree, owl, bear and a bee

Description:  The story  Bushy Tail Finds A Home

One day Bushy Tail was out playing in the forest, when it began 
 to rain. Quickly he scurried up the nearest tree and into a small hole, just the right size for a little squirrel.

As soon as he was comfortable, a little mouse scampered up the tree.  "May I please join you?" he asked politely.  I won't take up much room.  I promise."

 "Well," said Bushy Tail, "My home is awful little, and it's kind of crowded too, but if there's room enough for me, there'll be room enough for you!"

The little mouse snuggled in next to Bushy Tail.  As soon as they were  comfortable, a little owl flew down and landed on a branch near Busy Tail.  "May I please join you?" he asked politely.  "I won't take up much room.  I promise."

"Well," said Busy Tail,  "Our home is pretty crowded.  With just he mouse and me.  But if there's room enough for two, there'll be room enough for three."

The little owl snuggled in next to Bushy Tail and the little mouse.  As soon as they were comfortable, a bear cub hurried up the tree.  "May I please join you?"  he asked politely.  "I won't take up much room.  I promise."

"Well," said Bushy Tail, "Our home's already crowded, from the ceiling to the floor.  But if we all squeeze together,  there should be room for four."

The bear cub snuggled in next to Bushy Tail, the little mouse, and the little owl.  As soon as they were comfortable, a little bee buzzed by.  Buzz.  "May I please join you?" he asked politely.  "I won't take up much room.  I promise."

The animals were all frightened.  They began to shout,  "NO, NO, Little Bee!  You must stay out!  We're sorry it is raining, but there's just no room for five.  So Little Bee, leave us alone...And buzz back to your hive!"   Bzzzzzz, Bzzzzzz, Bzzzzzz!

Language: Just Suppose
Kim H. suggests this easy language activity to encourage preschool and kindergarten children to think creatively.

Description: Ask the children  "Just Suppose"  questions. 
For example:  "Just suppose you were the first person to meet a man from Mars and could ask him only three question, what would they be?"

"Just suppose you could be any person in the world for one hour, who would you be, what would you do?"

A Wiggle-With-Me Story
Trish H. offers this story saying, "The objective of this fun activity is to wiggle your sillys out.  Also listening skills will be another developmental skill are used.  Before telling the story with the children, read the following dialogue aloud, so they can learn the actions which correspond with the words.  Be sure to demonstrate the actions, then give the children the chance to practice them before the story begins. And let the fun begin!"

Materials: Just alot of wiggly cottontail bunnies, with pink noses, and brown eyes, and long tall ears who love to hop.

Description: Whenever I say "Hopped," and that will only be one time, hop away to wherever you wish.  Go quietly and be careful not to bump other bunnies as you hop. Now here is the story. Listen carefully and do not forget your parts.

The Story
Once upon a time there was a fluffy little bunny who lived in a safe burrow deep under the roots of a great old tree on the edge of the forest. The fluffy little bunny had a  "pink nose", "cottontail"," brown eyes" and "long, tall ears that could hear any sound for miles around

One day when the bunny was bouncing through the forest with his little "cottontail" bobbing along behind him, he came upon a bubbling brook. He stopped and perked up his "long tall ears" to listen for any sounds that might tell him of danger.  He sniffed the air with his "pink nose" for scent of an enemy. His soft, brown  eyes" looked in every direction. His "long, tall ears" told him nothing. His "pink nose" told him nothing. His "soft brown eyes" say no sign of another creature anywhere  So the bunny bounced off through the forest with his "Cottontail" bobbing behind him. 

Suddenly, there was a snap of a twig.  The "cottontail" stopped bobbing.  The bunny's "long tall ears" perked up to listen for the sound of a stranger. He sniffed the air with his "pink nose" for any scent of danger. His soft brown eyes looked in every direction. Then, there it was!  It moved quietly through the forest on the same path where the bunny stood.  It was coming closer and closer. The bunny did not move. It began to feel frightened! 

Who should come bouncing down the  path....but another little bunny just like him! She had a "pink nose, "a cottontail" "soft brown eyes"," and long tall ears that could hear for miles around. She stopped and looked at the bunny with her soft brown eyes. They smiled at each other. Then they turned and they hopped off down the bunny trail together.

 Comments: Just do this with lots of special little bunnies and have lots of "hare" raising fun .

Learning Letters
Courtney L. offers this activity saying, "Help children become familiar with the letters of the alphabet and begin to form basic words".

Materials: Index cards, markers

Description: Take 26 index cards (or more if you prefer, but enough to duplicate each letter of the alphabet).  Cut the index cards in half--this will give you 2 copies of each letter--and write the
letters on each one.  Children can practice learning to identify the alphabet and then, once they have a good grasp, they can use the duplicate letters to start to form basic words. Such as  cat, dog, box, etc.

Lotto Alphabet
Help young children learn the letters of the alphabet with this teacher made lotto by Kelli D.

 Materials: Contruction paper, clear contact paper, marker.

Description: I take a peice of contruction paper and fold in in half 2 times so there are 4 folds.  I take a color for each child. You will need 2 of each color. I then pick 4 letters for them to learn and put one letter on each fold.  Like A,C,F,S. Then on the same color on the other piece I put them in lower case. a,c,f,s. I use the same letters for all the kids and then cover them with contact paper. 

One of the papers I cut so they can match one piece to their 
board. I have them match the lower case to the upper case. I take all the cut pieces and mix them up and then show it to them and say "What letter is this?"  Whoever knows yells it out. then I say "What color is this card" and whoever has that color gets the card.

We do this till all the cards are full then we do it again. They learn their letters really fast with this game and they want to play it all the time. As soon as they learn these letters I do 4 new ones and then once a week we do the old ones so they don't forget them.

Textured Letters and Numbers
Debbie B. offers this sensory experience for learning the letters of the alphabet.

3"x5" index cards, markers, glue, bird grit.

Description: Teachers trace letters and numbers on the index cards. Make the symbols about1/2" wide. Next, spread glue on the letters and numbers and sprinke with bird grit  (sold in pet stores). Let the cards dry then put the finished product in the writing center. Encourage children to trace the symbols with thier fingers.

 Comments: You can make textured letters and numbers out of a variety of materials. Try cutting them out of sand paper, fake fur, or corduroy for example. Tracing these with thier fingers several times will help the children be able to write them easier.

Class Book:  "Animal Stampede" 
This early childhood literacy activity for kindergarten thru second grade children is offered by Dawn W.

Materials: Paper, crayons, alphabet stamps and ink pad.

 Description: On a page for each child I type My animal is a _________.  Then the child stamps that animals name with the stamp such as b e a r.  Then that child  draws a picture of their animal.  We make the pictures into a class book.

Word Families
Dawn W. offers this activity to help kindergarten children learn word families.

Materials: Paper and crayons.

Description:  Each child thinks of a word of the word family we are doing at that time as "AN" they might say "man".  They write it on their paper and then draw a picture of it.  We then make a class book.

Language and Literacy Activity
Tammy B.offers this lesson plan saying, " Children will listen and read along with a story about a community helper. They will also have the opportunity to express themselves by asking questions and answering questions while the story is being read to them as well as at the end of the story. The children will also draw or write their thoughts about the story that was read to them.

 Materials:  Book--Barney and BJ---Go To The Zoo
                          Drawing paper
1) Get the children to cleanup--Clean up song
2) Explain they we are going to hear a story about the zoo
3) Read the story-- Ask question during the story
4) Let the children have  their time to ask questions.
5) Tell the children that we are going to pretend we are zookeepers and let them draw a picture of their favorite animal and tell why they would want to care for that animal at the zoo.
6) Put all the pictures together in a book and call  it "Our Zoo Book".

Comments: My kids really liked this activity.

Literacy: Bears
Missydee shares this literacy activity saying, " Children will be able to retell the story of 'I'm Going On A Bear Hunt'  using a story bear prop.

A large paper bear cut out, a small, 2" piece of green fringed paper 
for the grass, a small piece of blue crepe paper for the river, brown paint,  three small green triangle shapes for the forest, small pieces of a white doily for the snowstorm, and either a bear stamper or brown pom-poms and wiggly eyes for a bear shape at the end of the story.

First read the story together, "We're Going On A Bear Hunt" by 
Michael Rosen. Then make a story bear to bring home and retell the story. Fun!!

Comments: For snack time, we have a teddy bear picnic; we eat beary-good foods and everyone brings a bear from home to share.  Using the bears, we graph, sort, count, group, etc.

Creative Dramatics: Nursery Rhymes
Missydee suggests this activity saying, " Children will act out different nursery rhymes and fairy tales; example shown is The Three Little Pigs."

Three pig noses and tails, a bucket of straw, sticks, and some 
bricks, and anything else depending on the rhyme! glue, small twigs, straw,  pre-drawn wolves and pigs, construction paper.

After reading The Three Little Pigs, we have the children act out 
the story using the props.  They really get into it!  Then we do a table activity using straw, 2-4" twigs gathered from the outside. We use little red  rectangles that can be used as bricks to be glued on a piece of construction paper in the shape of a house, pre drawn pigs and wolves.

The children glue on the materials to make a scene from the story.  They then can bring this home to retell the story to family members.

Comments: We have also made pig faces using rice cakes, cheese whiz, small M & Ms, and pink frosting.

book mending ideaBook Hospital
Leslie shares this idea that helps young children learn to care for their books.

Materials: A cardboard box filled with items that will mend books:  Tape, glue, a sponge dampened with a little watered down alcohol to wipe smudges off of covers ( kept in a plastic butter tub).

When books become torn or a little dog-eared they have to go to the  "hospital" to get better.  This helps children learn to take care of the  classroom books.

Gayle's Hint:  Ask your local librarian about the special tape used
to mend books. You may be able to purchase some and special covers too!

Alphabet Books
Suzan G. uses this method to help young children learn the alphabet.

Materials: Pre made books, crafts for each letter.

Description: Make a simple book for each child and label it "My Alphabet Book" .  Take two piece of card stock for front cover and back page. Then obtain 26 sheets of white copy paper. Bind all the pages to gather to represent a book.  Each week talk about a different letter in the alphabet.  At the end of each week create an art project for each letter. 

For example, the letter A page you could cut real apples in half and let the children dip them into paint and press them onto  the letter A page. 

The letter B page you could let children glue beans in the shape  of the letter B. The letter C could be cotton balls in shape of a C. And so on  and so on. Use your imagination for each letter.

Gayle's Hint: Take a peek at "Making the Alphabet", a few activities below.

Literacy Activity:  "Bloodhound Ben"
Julisa N. introduces new vocabulary (bloodhound) and helps children develop listening and conversation skills with this activity.

Materials: "Bloodhound Ben"  By Stewart Cowley.  Yellow rope topped with a red garland.

Cut up yellow rope and twist a red garland on the top of the rope
to make dog tails for the children.  Read the story to the children and have them wag the dog tails with you  when you read the "wag the tail" parts.  As you read get the children involved by asking a lot of questions.

Literacy Activity:
There Was An Old Women Who Swallowed A Fly
Suzan G. says, "Recreate this wonderful story and hear the giggles".

Materials: Medium size box, plastic cover sheet, clip art pictures of an old women and the animals

Find a medium size box and cut the middle out. Then tape a piece of 
plastic over the hole (the kind you can buy in the grocery store in the school section).  People keep book reports in them to protect the sheets of paper) Find a  clip art picture of an old women and enlarge her to fit the size of the box.  Put her head at the top of the box and her feet at the bottom of the box. The plastic hole represents her stomach.

Then copy pictures of the fly, horse, cow, cat, dog, spider, etc. Tell the story to the children and as you approach each animal that was swallowed let the children drop it into the box. They will  be able to see that item through the plastic opening. 

 Comments: Try finding plastic animals or stuffed animals at yard sales that could also be put into the women's stomach. Or add different animals for a twist in the story.

Literacy Activity:  "Stone Soup"
Children use listening skills, sequencing skills, math, reading and cooking skills in this activity from Criss, who uses it for St. Patrick's Day. 

Materials: The story "Stone Soup", a clean stone, raw vegetables, beef broth, safety in the kitchen.

Description: Read the story and then let the children clean, peal and cut the raw
vegetables for an adult to put into the hot water.

Comments: The kids were amazed at how the stone was used to make soup.

Making The Letters of the Alphabet
Nichole P. encourages young children to use letter recognition skills with this creative early childhood series of activities.

Materials: Many different kinds of items.

Description: Make the letter and add the following to them.

 Aa-apple prints, glue on apple cut-outs, or arrows.
 Bb-glue on buttons or balloons.
 Cc-glue on cotton balls or color with crayons.
 Dd-glue on dots for "dooty d's, or glue on dirt or diamond 
 Ee-glue on egg shells or elastic.
 Ff-glue on feathers or felt.
 Gg-glue on green glitter or grass.
 Hh-glue on hearts or hay (or paint with honey)
 Ii-paint with colored ice cubes, or use ink to make 
       insects (fingerprints,draw  on wings,etc).
 Jj-use jewels to make "jazzy jewel j's" 
       (you can add a string to   make a necklace-"jewelry").
 Kk-glue on popcorn kernals.
 Ll-glue on leaves,or punch holes around the edge for lacing.
     Use yellow paper and yellow yarn for "lemon laced l's".
 Mm-glue on macaroni or magizine pieces.
 Nn-glue on nuts, napkins or newspaper.
 Oo-glue on oatmeal or octagon shapes.
 Pp-purple potato prints.
 Qq-glue on q-tips or make quarter rubbings.
 Rr-glue on ribbons or raisins.
 Ss-use self sticking stars, glue on seeds or string.
 Tt-glue on toothpicks, tissues,triangles, or cover with tape.
 Uu-glue on umbrella shapes or stampers.
 Vv-glue on velvet or velcro.
 Ww-glue on wallpaper pieces, wood or waxed paper.
 Xx-have children glue small rectangular pieces of
        paper together to make an x.
 Yy-glue on yellow yarn or egg yolk noodles.
 Zz-glue on zippers or draw zigzags.
Comments:  The children get real excited to see each new letter activity.

Stop by the second page of 
Literacy and Alphabet Activities next  alphabet  literacy page
E-mail GayleE-mail Gayle  to include your favorite pre-school activity
in this theme!
Click the Rainbow for The Rainbow Resource Room
Click for Resource RoomClick the Schoolhouse for Activity CentralClick for Activity Central
Search the Preschool Rainbow
Click to Search

To the Top

preschool rainbow activity bar