Category Archives: Pinned it and Did It

Not Writing? No Problem? Alphabet Skills for Prewriters

Is your little one ready to learn the alphabet but has no interest in writing?

No problem.

Consider this:

How many unique shapes would you need to form all the capital letters of the alphabet?

Here’s your hint:


Betcha didn’t know you can make all 26 capital letters with just 4 basic lines (you’ll have to use some twice).

For example, the letter A:  Two long lines, one short line in between.

B:  One long line, two big curves.

C:  One big curve.


And on and on.

Using these free letter puzzle printables I found on Pinterest (, I was able to print out the templates and letter patterns for all 26 uppercase letters.  You’ll find the original post with printables here:

I made my templates with craft foam – I just love the feel of the stuff, and it cuts so nicely.  Tagboard works well too.

All three of my Littles (Noah – 6 with Down syndrome, Bella 4 and Seth 3) all went right to work on this and continue to love this activity.

If you’re familiar with Handwriting Without Tears, they use a similar process for pre-writers.  It’s developmentally sound – a tactile, kinesthetic activity that requires recognizing shapes and working to form alphabet letters.  This kind of activity engages the brain in a way where letter formation and motor planning are happening even though there is no pen and paper in sight.  In other words, this is a great way to start down the Yellow Brick Road on the way to writing.

And as we say in the Land of Oz Homeschool, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!

Mystery Bag – Using Touch to Identify Objects

The idea for a mystery bag activity has been on my mind since Noah (6 – with Down syndrome) played a game similar to Ned’s Head in speech therapy a few months back.  You know how those ideas get planted, you sit, you watch, and you say I could do that!

The concept for this game is you stick your hand into the bag (or stocking) and identify what you are pulling out before you pull it out, or you put your hand into the bag trying to pull out a particular item.


I was planning on using a pillowcase or paper sack, but when I saw this Christmas stocking pin, from the original blog post at,I decided I liked the stocking idea way better.

I wanted to use this to practice vocabulary with Noah, so I made up a bunch of PECs to go along with unique items that would fit into the stocking.  I came up with three pages worth, so even if you don’t have everything, you can pick and choose which ones you want to use.  You’ll find the free printable cards in PDF format here:  Mystery Bag.

Thanks to for giving me such an easy way to make these cards.  For members, you can find my fully editable file here:

I just stacked the cards right-side down and let him take one from the top of the pile, insert hand into filled stocking, pull out matching object, wallah.

(By the way, I’m experimenting with auditory bombardment, which is basically reading a list of target words while your child is sitting passively.  In many circles it’s not considered productive, but I’m operating on the assumption that Noah has to hear and identify a word before he can start the motor planning process to say the word, so I want him to have as much exposure to the word as possible.  It’s an easy, fast exercise, and it can’t hurt to try something new, right?)

Anyway, back to the mystery bag.  I read through the cards and show them to Noah before he starts the game and after he finishes the game – my version of auditory bombardment.

Noah had no trouble with this the first time we played.  Granted, I only put items in the bag that were extremely different from each other.  I have to say I was impressed with how readily accessible Noah’s sense of discriminating touch was.  Makes me think sandpaper letters or something along those lines might be a way to help him with his letter recognition.

Hope you had a sweet Valentine’s Day.   Yuk yuk.  Very punny, as my kids would say.

DIY Map Puzzles – Pinned it and Did it

I saw this pin pop up on, and it was an ah-hah moment. Image

You’ll find the source of the idea and beautiful picture here:

We have been using Story of the World – Middle Ages by Susan Wise Bauer for history with Eden (7), Andres (9) and Leah (11), and each chapter has a mapping activity.  I thought this would be a great way to review and reinforce our map work.

First we followed the directions to complete our map.

Next we completely colored the map for aesthetics.

Andres laminated his map, cut it into six pieces, put magnets on the back of each piece, and put it back together on our refrigerator.


Eden mounted her map on construction paper, cut it up into pieces and sent it to her grandmother who loves maps.

Leah cut her map into six pieces and glued it back together again onto construction paper.


This is a great excuse to give you a link to one of my all-time favorite websites,  You’ll find free printable outline maps of just about anywhere here, and you can print them any size you want.  This site prints the maps out on as many sheets of paper as you need for the size of map you select.  Then you lay out all the sheets, tape them together, and wallah, you have a huge, wall-sized map, a one-page map, or any size in between.

One of the best homeschool projects we ever did was we printed off a huge world map from this site, put it together on our wall, colored in all the water blue and then colored the countries as we read about them in our studies or encountered them in life.  Earthquake in Japan?  We found Japan on our map and colored it in.  New Sunday school teacher from Egypt?  We found Egypt on our map and colored it in.  Book about China?  We found China on our map and colored it in.

Incidentally, you’ll also find free interactive on-line map games on for every region of the world.  Take a look, take a trip – just don’t forget to write!