Category Archives: All Letters

Free Printable Clothespin Tasks for Initial Letter Discrimination

Here’s something new we’ve been doing this week: 

These free alphabet image clothespin cards were provided courtesy of  I love clothespin tasks for preschool and early childhood skills because they are much more interactive than the typical phonics worksheets plus it’s a great workout for those Pincer grasp strengthening skills we’ve been talking about.

Bella (4) hit the floor running with these.  Each card has an uppercase and matching lowercase letter plus two pictures to choose from.  The goal is to clip the clothespin on the picture that has the beginning sound that corresponds with the alphabet letter on the card.  An extra bonus to these cards is that the designer included images to paste on the back of the card behind the right answer.  This means your child can check his own work.  How cool is that?

I loved using these cards for Noah (5-Down syndrome) and Seth (2) because although I was pointing to all the right answers and doing most of the talking, they were able to operate the clothespins independently.  This turned out to be a great way to introduce the process of how these cards work; expose the boys to the letters and alphabet sounds; review simple vocabulary; and have them strengthen their Pincer grasp muscles all at the same time.  And no doubt about it, the children are absolutely mesmerized by being allowed to work with common household items like clothespins.

Thanks so much to Karen over at for making and sharing these cards with the rest of us.

What do you get . . .

. . . when you cross crafts, homeschooling and special needs and you pour it into a mom like me?

Okay, let me make it a little easier on you.  How about when you cross plastic beads, cookie cutters, the alphabet and an oven (keep reading as to why I won’t do this in a regular oven again)?

You’re getting warmer . . . (no pun intended)

I used the smallest plastic beads I could find for this, but I’ve done it with pony beads as well, and it worked just fine.

“Oh, gosh, can I really melt beads in the oven?”

“YES!!!”  Although I recommend you doing it in a portable toaster oven or roaster oven outside for ventilation.  I did these in the kitchen oven, and although the fumes were not overpowering, I noticed my nose stung something fierce every time I turned the oven on for days.  I figure that was God’s way of saying, “Hey, Alyson, don’t do that!”

Activity:  Alphabet Stained Glass in the Oven


1.  One set of metal alphabet cookie cutters.

2.  Electrical roaster or toaster oven that can be used outside.3.  Plastic transparent beads, assorted colors.  These must be transparent if you want to use them on a light table or light box.  For other uses, solid-colored beads are fine.

4.  Aluminum foil.

5.  Small baking sheet, pan or pie plate that will fit into the oven you are using.


1.  Line what you are using as your pan with aluminum foil.

2.  Place desired cookie cutters in pan.

3.  Pour plastic beads into cookie cutters in a shallow layer, making sure there are no gaps.

4.  Turn portable oven to 375 degrees and insert pan.

5.  Cook for 15 minutes, check, and then continue cooking if necessary, checking every 5 minutes until beads are melted.  The beads should be completely formless.

6.  Remove from oven and allow to cool completely (about 45 minutes).  You can put the pan in the freezer to speed this process. 

7.  Push letters out of cookie cutters, using a knife to separate any stubborn areas.

Okay all you fans of the latest ideas in sensory activities . . .  now what???  What in the world are we going to do with these?  Do I hear light box activities anyone?

The big motivator for me in this activity is getting to use these letters on the light box.  I just don’t have many ideas for the light box that don’t required buying expensive acrylic manipulatives.  So here’s what it looks like:

 The pictures just don’t do it justice.  I did use some clear beads mixed in with the colored beads, and I won’t do that next time.  I’d like these to be a little darker in color, and I think I can do that by using different beads. 

For now we’re just playing “Find the letter . . ., but we’ll use this later on as Noah starts learning to string letters together to make words.   I’ll keep you posted, I’m hoping to come up with some other ideas to use these. 

P.S.  Does this seem like way more work than you want to do?  This is a great activity for older kids to help with.  Nobody can keep their hands off of beads in this house, so if it’s like that at your house, put those happy helpers to work!!!!

Play-Doh just goes well with anything, doesn’t it?

Even the alphabet.  Play-Doh + the alphabet letters = Kinesthetic, fine motor, literacy-learning, memory-making fun.

In an effort to get the most out of each sit-down session with Noah, I’m starting to expand my use of our everyday learning materials.  Instead of doing one Play-doh activity a day, we are having one Play-Doh day a week, and on that day, we’ll be doing everything with Play-doh I can think of.  So instead of 5 minutes of Play-Doh, 5 minutes of light table, 5 minutes of bingo daubers, 5 minutes of stamping, and then a great big mess to clean up, I’m going to be choosing just one or two materials to focus on each day.

We’re learning the letter F this week, but in brainstorming Play-doh activities for this morning, I found a few that can be done with any alphabet letter.  Here’s what we did this morning around the dining room table:

1.  Cookie cutter letters – alphabet cookie cutter and a rolling pin

2.  Play-Doh stamping – alphabet rubber stamp (I got mine at Wal-Mart.

3.  Play-Doh letter mat from  The link is to their free alphabet printables page – scroll down to the Play-Doh mat link.  Lot’s of great stuff on that page.  You’ll want to laminate this or put it in a sheet protector.

4.  Object collage – Use one or more items that start with the letter you are teaching, and allow your child to make abstract art by sticking the items into a clump of the Play-Doh.  Feathers were perfect for us since we’re on F this week.

5.  Alphabet beads – Wooden or plastic beads with the letter you are teaching on them.  For Noah I made a pile of about eight beads, some were the letter O and some were the letter F.  He had to find all the Fs one by one and put them in the Play-Doh.  Multi-tasking – oh yeah!

How about you – how do you use Play-Doh to teach or reinforce concepts?