Making pancake letters and numbers can be a fun way to begin introduce or to review the topic. Mix the pancake batter as normal, and then pour it into the pan in the desired shape. You could take this learning further by making it a game. For example, whoever guesses the letter gets the pancake, or if the child guesses the letter, they can choose the next one that you cook. Making your child’s name in pancakes is also a good way to encourage them to recognise their own name and name the letters within.
Continuing with kitchen activities, if you are making a cake the icing can be made slightly thicker and used to make the alphabet or numbers. Alternatively, an assortment of pasta such as broken spaghetti or macaroni can be used to glue into letters, numbers and words. The pasta can be dyed beforehand and left to dry for a colourful option.
Play dough cutters can be purchased in letter and numeral shapes; however the play dough can also be rolled into the letter shapes. Simply roll the play dough into a long, thin sausage shape, then mould into the appropriate letter or numeral. Depending on the age of your children, they could also use a plastic knife to cut out the shapes.
Writing in shaving foam or flour is another fun, sensory activity and most children love the mess that they can get into! Spray a small pile of foam on a plastic tablecloth or easily cleanable surface. Mix in a few drops of food colouring, then spread the foam to form a thin layer. The children can use their finger to write letters or numbers. An extension idea is for the children to write the letter and illustrate with a picture that begins with that letter. They could also write a number and draw pictures to show that number. You can facilitate their learning by adding the written word of the number to their creation. Once the children have finished their illustration, use a piece of paper to take a print. Gently lay the paper on top of the foam and lift directly upwards.
A manipulative, constructive alternative is to make the letters from blocks. Connector blocks such as Lego work well, or you can simply use smooth wooden blocks to form the shapes. Computer keys from old, unused keyboards can be removed and used to form words. You could even press these into styrofoam or glue onto the surface of your choice.
Stencils are available from most general department stores which children can use with felt pens, crayons or pencils. Handwriting books are another option. You could also photocopy and laminate handwriting pages to be able to easily clean them off for further use.
There are so many ways that will encourage and motivate children to recognise letters, numbers and words. Ensure that the activities you choose align with the interests of your child and they will want more!