The Importance of Alphabet Practice in Preschool

Preschool teaches so many foundational skills for young students that they will go on to use every day. Shapes, colors, and numbers are skills that must be learned before students can start learning the basics covered in later grades. 

One of the most important concepts to learn, however, is the alphabet. It’s true that they will cover this in kindergarten as well, but preschool is a great time to get them familiar with the concept so they start elementary school with the skills they need to succeed in reading and writing.

The alphabet can be tricky for students at first. 

Not only are there 26 letters to memorize, but you also have to learn the uppercase and lowercase versions of it! The shapes of letters don’t necessarily come naturally to young learners. If not practiced frequently, they could struggle with letter identification through kindergarten or even first grade.  

Along with letter identification, it is also important to teach them what sounds each letter makes.

Ensuring that they know the sounds of each letter is an important precursor to learning to read. Students will begin working with sight words in kindergarten so making sure they have a basic understanding of letter identification and sounds will give them a headstart. 

Alphabet tracing worksheets are a great way to practice with this age group. This can scaffold students’ writing skills and help with letter recognition and formation. Crafts are also a great way to do this because writing, tracing, coloring, cutting, and gluing help with their fine motor skills.

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This Alphabet Practice A-Z Bundle is all you need to help your preschool students perfect these skills. 

This alphabet packet includes crafts, worksheets, and activities for each letter of the alphabet. You can use these printables and crafts in centers, whole group, small group, or for homework.

These provide hands-on options as well as worksheets to help with busy mornings. Students will learn how to work independently after the first couple of letter sets are used because every unit follows the same pattern. You will get so much to choose from each week. 

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These activities will have your students confidently identifying and writing their letters as well as recognizing their sounds. They will be proud of the cool crafts they create for each letter and want to share them with others. It’s the perfect way to get them engaged! 

For more creative ways to practice the alphabet, check out my post here.

What are your favorite ways to work on the alphabet with preschool students? 

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4 Reasons Crafts Are Important In Kindergarten

Crafts are powerful tools for developing skills needed in reading and writing. Some think crafts are “fluff” or “busy work.” Continued research supports the value of crafts for young students. 

Here Are 4 Reasons Crafts Are Important In Kindergarten

Fine Motor Skills.

Students at this age are still developing their fine motor skills. They are also still working on hand-eye coordination. Doing crafts in the classroom is fun and can help students work on these important skills as they cut shapes, glue, and put things together. 

They teach colors, shapes, letter recognition, and formation.

These are skills students will use every day of their lives so it is important for them to get plenty of practice in new and exciting ways. Creating something new can help get students the practice they need without them even realizing they are learning. 

crafts

Engagement.

I don’t know any younger students who don’t love crafts. Its a hands-on activity where they get to use their creativity to make something that they can show to their parents. It’s so fun! This is a great way to get students truly engaged in learning. 

crafts

Listening and following directions.

Many kindergarten students are having their first ever experience in a school setting. Things like listening and following directions are not always concepts they understand yet. Doing these activities are a fun way to practice listening and following directions to create something exciting. 

Crafts are a fun addition to any lesson. Working on letters? Try out some alphabet crafts! Reading a new story? Do a craft to go along with it! Learning about community helpers? Make some police hat crafts! The opportunities are endless. 

Aside from the benefits listed above, these activities are a great way to add some variety to your lessons and prevent students from burning out while doing traditional worksheets. 

Looking for more kindergarten tips? Check out my tips for teaching alphabet writing and identification. 


 

Desk Pets for the Classroom: a Behavior Management Tool

I’m obsessed with how Desk Pets improve classroom behavior!

Desk Pets for the Classroom

All over the internet, in the teacher’s lounge, on TikTok, and on educational blogs, the latest buzz is about Desk Pets! The original idea came from Marissa Begay. Buying cute erasers is nothing new for teachers regarding classroom rewards, but Desk Pets take it to a new level!  I can’t stop creating new ideas for these mini erasers! Just like students, teachers love to be part of the fun! This is why I suggest teachers have their own Desk Pet Pal! Also, students see that even adults have rules to follow.  Clearly, the principal would give you your Desk Pet Dollars. lol

What are Desk Pets?

Desk pets are adorable small erasers students can adopt in the classroom. Undoubtedly, I found mine on Amazon. Students keep their pets at their desks.  If you don’t want them at their desks all day, you can have a designated time for them to be at their desk.  Not only can they write with them, but they can also read to their Desk Pet.  Students fill out classroom adoption papers.  It reminds me of Build-a-Bear workshops.  To turn these amazing pets into a reward system, students earn Desk Pet Dollars to purchase accessories or habitats for their pets.  They can even adopt pet friends if they earn enough points.  You decide on the points students have to earn to get a Desk Pet Dollar.  Teachers track points with Class Dojo or a simple, portable tally chart.

Desk Pet Adoption

How do Desk Pets work?

First, the rules need to be made clear. To make sure these Desk Pets don’t drive you crazy, set the ground rules, or better yet, have the students create the rules to help them take ownership.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s a great idea to begin the year by introducing this classroom management system.  I would wait until the classroom rules are being followed, and students have developed a respect for your classroom. Additionally, I  begin with using them as math manipulatives rarely, so students get a little familiar with the erasers before teaching the expectations. Before the holidays is a perfect time to introduce this system.

Desk Pets for Math

After students fill out the adoption application and adopt their pet, send home information to families to get them to reinforce the excitement and responsibility of having a Desk Pet Pal. Definitely, encourage parents to ask about the pets, earning points, and dollars.

There’s more…

Set up a way that students can achieve a Permanent Home Adoption Certificate later in the year if they acquire a large number of points. Every time students earn maybe 10 points, they get a dollar. Furthermore, create a pet store where they can buy food, treats, toys, beds, bowls, or habitats.  These can be felt pieces, simple construction paper, cotton balls for a bed, and bottle caps as bowls. Additionally, allow students each week to buy their pet something.

Desk Pet Habitat

Every day you should set time aside, even if it’s 5 minutes of quiet reading time with their pet.  This is “free time” that they don’t have to earn with points. Furthermore, have an Adoption Center where you display the pets in a safe area.

Desk Pets make great writing prompts! Students enjoy writing about their pets. If having them all day at their desk is a problem, decide on a place to store them until the appropriate designated Pet Playtime.  Teachers have pet daycares, hotels, or simple plastic bins for this purpose.  Another idea is to use the hotel to store the animals daily. It prevents lost pets. Even more, teachers create a class goal to have a pet party.

What are students most excited about?

Students get excited by spending dollars at the pet store and building new habitats for their pets.  Furthermore, students are learning about science, math skills with counting dollars, responsibility, writing, and rules. My own kids who are past elementary age loved these little erasers, so use them at any age. Without a doubt, students will remember you for the fun, engaging way you helped them to stay on task. I know as a parent, I love the idea of Desk Pet Pals!

Desk Pet Pals for Kids

I teach virtual school. Can Desk Pets work for me?

YES! Google slides make it easy to use digital desk pets. Also, digital clipart can be sent to the students. And, have students use writing prompts with their pets. It should be noted that you can offer clipart of accessories, food, or toys in exchange for Virtual Pet Points.

What happens if they get lost or stolen?

Great question! Without a doubt, you will experience cute erasers going missing. I have a Pet Detective form students can fill out and reward posters for students to create for missing pets.  Then, I tell the student their adoption contract is voided and they can adopt a new pet until the other one is found. Certainly, if someone gets caught stealing, remove points from their data log.  I like to track behavior points for difficult behaviors and use the data charts in meetings.

Desk Pets Data

I love that the mini erasers can be used for other educational purposes too! Here are some ideas:

  • Math Manipulatives
  • Creative Writing Prompts
  • Opinion Writing
  • Design Posters or Write a Book About the Pet
  • Hide them in the room to play I Spy or Write the Room
  • Sort by Colors
  • Create a Report on the Animal
  • Learn How to Care for a Pet
  • Design a Pet Habitat

Desk Pet Ideas

Check out these pre-made PowerPoints and Digital Google Slides that will save you time coming up with Desk Pet ideas and activities.

Try this FREE Sample to get started on your Desk Pet Journey!

How to Practice Alphabet Writing and Identification

One of the most important things for preschool and kindergarten students to do is work on their letters and eventually learn to read. Recognizing letters and their sounds is a fundamental part of their education. A skill that they will use every day for the rest of their lives. So naturally, we need to work on them daily and get lots of practice! 

It is important to practice the alphabet naturally and in a developmentally appropriate way. With that in mind, it’s beneficial to shake up the methods we use to keep students engaged and prevent burnout. This will give your lessons more variety and make them more engaging for the students! 

Here are some unique and effective ways to practice with letters in your classroom

  • Listen to alphabet songs. There’s nothing like a catchy song that will get stuck in their head! Turn on a song and encourage students to sing along and dance. You could even make letters with your arms! Not only will this help students get their energy out, but it will also help commit the letters to memory. Jack Hartmann has some awesome songs for this. Check it out here! 
  • Sand Writing. This is an exciting and hands-on way for students to practice. Layout a cookie sheet with some sand on top. Students will love getting their hands dirty while writing the letters in the sand. 
  • Finger Painting. This is another great hands-on way to practice. Just make sure to layout plenty of supplies for cleaning up any messes they might make. 
  • Stamp Pads. What kid doesn’t love stamps? Get some letter stamp pads and let students stamp letters onto worksheets. 
  • Pudding Paint. This is a great option if you have younger students who are prone to tasting their paint. All you need is vanilla pudding and food coloring. Make the pudding according to box instructions, separate it into different cups or tins, and add different colors of food coloring. Students can use it to paint their letters on a hard surface like their desk or cookie sheets. 
  • Playdough. Use playdough smash mats and have students create the letter out of playdough. 
  • Sidewalk Chalk. Get outside and practice writing letters with sidewalk chalk! This activity is a great change of scene and students are sure to love it. 
  • Paint Daubers. This is another student favorite! Use paint daubers to create letters. 
  • Shaving Cream. Similar to sand writing, let them write their letters in the shaving cream. Add some food coloring to make it more colorful! 
  •  Tracing Printables. Worksheets like these are always helpful for recognizing letters and writing them. 
  • Back Drawings. Pair your students up and let them draw a letter on their partners back. The partner then has to guess the letter! 
  • I Spy The Letter. The classic game of I Spy, but with letters! 

Want even more alphabet activities? Check out my Alphabet Practice A-Z Bundle!

This resource is a growing bundle that includes crafts and printables for each letter. These provide hands-on options as well as worksheets to help with busy mornings. Students will learn how to work independently after the first couple of letter sets are used because every unit follows the same pattern.

Each letter comes with 16 printables which includes 3 crafts, a spinning game, letter identification, forming letters, playdough letters, BINGO daubing, tracing letters, letter sounds, and beginning sounds of words. 

Use these printables and crafts in centers, whole group, small group, or for homework. Check it out here! 

Looking for some more teaching resources or early elementary? Check out my post on teaching about community helpers here! 

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