Tag Archives: early literacy

Alphabet Magnets and Cookie Sheets – A Matching Activity

In my search for alphabet recognition activities, I found some great free cookie sheet printables here:


The idea behind the cookie sheets is this:  If you tape the printable to the cookie sheet, the magnetic letters stay in one place as your child adds to them. 





I figured Bella (3) could handle this no problem, but I knew Noah (5 – Down syndrome) would need a little more to go on than just the printed letter to match the magnet to.  I wish I could claim credit for this idea, but alas I did not think of this myself.  Too bad I have NOOOO idea which blog I saw it on, but I knew this would be just the thing for Noah.







You can print this directly from your color printer by clicking on it; your alphabet magnets should fit exactly over these letters. How cool is that?  I found the fact that the colors on the printable matched the actual colors of the magnetic letters to be a big help in guiding my children to the correct match.  These magnets came from the dollar store.  If you can pick up a set, hopefully your colors will match mine.  If not, use your colors, line them up in alphabetical order in rows like mine, take a picture allowing the letters to take up the full screen, and print the picture full size.  I slipped my printable into a page protector for durability and then taped it to the cookie sheet.

I had no idea what a hit this activity would be.  I had all three littles, including Seth (2) climbing all over each other to take a turn matching the letters.  I just love it when that happens.

G is for Gold Glitter

As if Gold Glitter Play-Doh wasn’t enough . . .








Okay, I admit it.  Though you’d never know it by the way I dress, I do love a little bling.  This activity is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll throw in a couple ideas to make it easier than usual.  First I used chalk to draw the letter g on black construction paper.  Next, I handed over the glue bottles to Noah (5 with Down syndrome) and Bella (3), and they traced the letters with the glue.  I was really surprised on this step because Noah did a beautiful job of staying mostly on the line.  Bella had lots of blobs and gaps.  I gave them both paintbrushes, and they went back and spread the paint along the G.  This was a great way to maximize the time and minimize the effort of our craft time.  We can use all the sensory play and fine motor help we can get.  Finally, I turned the glitter top to the sprinkle holes and let the kids sprinkle it on the G themselves.  They loved that.  

I think this one will “stick” (I crack myself up) with them a while – who can forget a gold glitter G?


Learning Sign Language Naturally – How to Incorporate it into Daily Living

As Noah (5 – Down syndrome) continues to struggle with language acquisition, using sign language is becoming more and more of a route around here.  Even as he learns to say words, sign language is a great prompt and a great backup for when his pronunciation isn’t clear enough for us to understand what he is saying.  Even those who do not understand sign language benefit from his signing because so many of the signs are logically connected to the words they represent.

(Isn’t this ADORABLE?)

For example, if he attempts to say butterfly, he will probably not be understood.  But if he says butterfly in the context of animal or something he is seeing and he backs it up with the sign, you will most certainly know what he is saying.  Your understanding will give him the motivation and confidence necessary to continue with his attempts at speech.  It’s a win-win situation.

So, now that we’ve talked about the why, let’s talk about the how.

How in the world, in the midst of raising a family, do you learn a new language?  And not just how do you learn sign language, but how do you practice it so that it is not learned and then forgotten?

I’ve struggled with that one as we have broadened our sign language vocabulary to a point we know most of the “necessary words.”

Here’s what hit me today, as I realized the term “girls and boys” is used at least 9 times in the book, “The Little Engine that Could,” as retold by Watty Piper.  (Noah’s speech therapist has been working with him on identifying boys versus girls and learning the signs for both.)  If you are spee

Books + sign language graphics = Practical practice and review every day.

You know that book you read to your child over and over again every day or two?  What if you had a collection of small sign language graphics to glue or tape to the pages for key words in the story?  (Click on the page for a printable version.)

These graphics came from http://www.answers.com/topic/the-girl-told-the-boy-that-she-loves-him

The best thing about this is even if you don’t have a copy ofThe Little Engine that Could, you can still use these graphics.  They are all common words used in children’s books, so don’t limit yourself.

Something else I like about this is that while daddys may be very willing to read to their children at night, often times they don’t want to sit down to a sign language lesson to recap what the child has learned that day.  It’s not that they have an aversion to learning sign language, they’d just like to be able to do it on their time without any pressure.  Moms, you don’t have to say a word.  Just put these cards in the books you want them in, and when your husband is reading that book to your child, he will see the signs and he’ll either learn them or he won’t.  But it’s all right there for him.  I think dads can tend to feel left out of the therapies and progress of their children.  This is a great way to include them on their terms.  But please, whatever you do, don’t nag them about this.  Just wait and see what happens.

This idea works great for siblings too.

I do suggest that you visit www.lifeprint.com to see video clips of the proper signs to go with these graphics.  It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re only looking at a picture; but if you see it on video first, chances are a picture will be all you need to remind you of the proper sign.

What are your favorite phrases in books to sign?