Learning the alphabet and honing glueing skills

Learning the alphabet and honing glueing skills can be combined in just one fun activity.

Your child will not only learn the alphabet but also letter formation as he can trace his finger over the textured result.

Here’s 10 tips on how to get your child’s alphabet learning and glueing skills going.

1. Print each alphabet on an A4 size paper.   Ensure the size of the alphabet is large enough to glue materials on. Lots of free alphabet downloads are available on the internet.
Choose between print or cursive, whichever your child will eventually be using.

2. Collect a wide range of material.   Sometimes 5-10 minutes is all a 3 year old will take to enjoy an activity. That’s ok, but that’s also why having different textures to work with is important to stimulate interest, encourage longer participation and avoid boredom. Tissue paper, hard card, coloured felt, sequins and scrap cloth are just a few ideas. Separate all these in different little boxes and label for easy reference.

3. Pace yourself.   If your child is new to glueing, introduce only a few materials at a time. Offer perhaps 2-3 choices.  On special days you could bring out your whole arsenal of resources and see what she comes up with.

4. Don’t glue everyday.   Eventually your child may get tired of glueing so use stickers instead. Choose small stickers and again, offer a variety to make it interesting.

5. Be prepared.   Make glue tubes or glue sticks available and UHU for hardy material. Have a damp cloth handy for clean ups midway. Don’t always jump in to wipe your child’s hands though. This would interfere with the fun and discourage your child from getting used to the messiness that is a natural part of crafting.

If your child’s work table is made of wood, it helps to line it with a plastic cover to avoid glue spoiling it. We like IKEA’s table protector.

6. Introduce the alphabet.   If you are teaching your child phonics, introduce the sound of the alphabet first rather than its letter name (as in “SSSS” rather than “Ess”). We are using Jolly Phonics at home, so I start by telling a story and emphasising a few words with the letter sound.

Jolly Phonics: Finger Phonics Book 1
Jolly Phonics: Finger Phonics Book 1

Then I show a flashcard of the letter, pronounce the sound clearly and ask the child to follow suit.

Jolly Phonics flashcards (cursive)
Jolly Phonics flashcards (cursive)

Finally I bring out the alphabet print out and we start glueing.

7. Encourage independence.   If your child is new to glueing, start by demonstrating what needs to be done. Show how squeezing the glue tube too hard will make a gluey mess. Show how to angle the sticky part of the material downwards and place it on the intended space. Then sit back and let him take over, stepping in to help only if really necessary. (This is such great fun for 3 year olds. Actually even my 2 year old Piglet loves this.)

8. Keep it relaxed and fun.   Enjoying crafts is a process that takes time. From the beginning, participate with your child in a positive way and demonstrate how fun it can be. Discuss the colours you will be using. Feel the different textures together. Talk about how soft or hard, rough or smooth the textures are. Praise him for every effort made. Don’t make a big deal about mess.

Sequins. Get an assortment of colours - gold, purple, green, silver, blue
Sequins. Get an assortment of colours – gold, purple, green, silver, blue!
Punch outs. Use coloured paper and a puncher.
Punch outs. Use coloured paper and a puncher.
Tissue paper, torn and rolled into little balls. A great activity to  strengthen fingers for writing
Coloured tissue paper, torn and rolled into little balls. A great fine motor activity to strengthen fingers for writing.
Coloured felt
Coloured felt
Wooden pieces, cut from an ice cream stick
Wooden pieces, cut from an ice cream stick.
Satiny ribbon
Satiny ribbon. Any scrap cloth is great. Waste not!

We have also used toothpicks (cut into small pieces) and semi-hard transparent plastic (saved from a discarded toy box).

Keep finished print outs in a folder so your child can trace the letters with his index finger.

9. Respect your child’s boundaries.   By all means encourage your child to finish what he’s started, unless he’s genuinely tired. Also be careful not to force your child to go beyond what interests him otherwise the activity may lose its appeal and he may be discouraged from trying again later.

10. End well.  When you observe your child getting tired of the activity, start to wrap up. Usually I say something like “Have you had enough? (Wait for an answer, and if yes:) Right, looks like you’re done for the day, let’s pin your work up (on our display board), pack up and do something else now ok?” This way, the activity ends on a positive note, the child feels some pride that his work is valued and there is proper training to tidy up before moving on to the next thing.


What interesting crafts have you used to teach your child the alphabet?

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