Thursday, September 1, 2022

Letter A Hands On Centers

When I taught in the classroom, I liked to incorporate learning letters into all aspects of teaching.  I wanted to add something about the letter in my math center, writing center, fine motor center, etc.  Each center would have an activity that focused around the letter we were learning about.  This post will show some of the ways we added letter learning into the different areas of the preschool or prek classroom.  All of these activities are hands on and many have fine motor aspects to them.  

First up, we will discuss fine motor centers.  With the letter A, we often learn about apples, since apple begins with the short /a/ sound.  We have playdough mats for students to use to build their own apple shape.  Working the fine motor muscles by using playdough will be a great benefit to the child for when they really begin learning to write.  Now, being at home, I use these with my preschooler to build up her hand strength to get her ready to learn to write.

The next center we will talk about is the writing center.  These letter formation cards are a great way for students to begin writing the letter A.  They offer a variety of guided and unguided examples for students to use while learning to form the letter.  These cards can be laminated to create a write and wipe activity for students to get a ton of letter writing practice.  These also work well in task boxes for a task box center.   I am using these now with my kindergartner.  He is still learning how to form his letters, so we will focus on these cards for a while longer.

For students who have already mastered letter formation, I have these traceable word cards for them to practice writing words that begin with the letter A.  I typically include words with both the short /a/ sound and the long /a/ sound in these cards.  With these cards laminated, students can trace the words over and over again for extra practice.

I also include the same word cards as a wall display in the writing center.  These cards are helpful for students who are beyond tracing and ready to experiment with writing on their own.  They can draw pictures and label them with the help of these word wall cards.

When I taught in the classroom, I did not have a dedicated puzzle center, though I have been reading where many preschool and prek classrooms do.  We had a large empty floor area where I would put out puzzles from time to time, but otherwise, puzzles were kept in the fine motor area of our centers.  These letter A puzzles focus on paring words that start with /a/ to the letter A.  These puzzles include both long vowels and short vowel sounds.  

For students who are beyond simply knowing the beginning sounds, or who need more challenge than a 2 piece puzzle, I have these spelling puzzles.  Each spelling puzzle has a picture that begins with the letter A and students must put the picture together in order to spell the word correctly.

In the math center I would have students practice counting with tens frames filled with the letter a.  They would use the apple cards to match to the correct tens frame.  With this center, students gain practice counting to 10 and practice with number recognition.

Another number recognition activity I would use are these counting puzzles.  Students must put the numbers in the correct order from 1 to 10 to create the picture.  Each picture starts with the letter A.  These puzzles can also store nicely in task boxes.

These letter A pattern cards are also a fun activity I liked to include in my math centers.  Students can use these cards to recognize, copy or continue each pattern.  I would include a variety of different pattern types (AB, AAB, ABB, ABC, etc) for students to get a lot of practice building patterns.  

Typically in the preschool or prek classroom you would find alphabet activities in the literacy center or an alphabet center.  Since learning letters is the beginnings of literacy, it would make total sense for alphabet activities to appear in a literacy time.  The above activity is where students would short capital letter As from lowercase letter As.  Students will place the correct apple in the correct basket to complete this sorting activity.  At home, my preschooler uses these to practice letter recognition and sorting skills with visual discrimination to determine where each apple goes.

Another activity in our literacy centers is sorting apples on trees by beginning sound.  One mat is for apples that have pictures that begin with the letter A and the other is a mat for pictures that do not begin with the letter A.  Since we focus more on the short /a/ sound, we use only pictures with short /a/ sounds in this sorting activity.  My kindergartener is currently using this sort to help with his letter sound recognition.  

Another literacy center activity is sorting picture cards by long /a/ and short /a/ sounds.  Students will take the astronaut and place him/her on the correct space moon picture according to the picture's beginning sound.  


In my reading center, I would locate books with themes that began with the letter A to include.  I would have books on apples, alligators, astronauts, and ambulances available for students to look through and read.  

All of these letter A centers can be found in this Letter A Hands On Centers Packet.  Please note that not all of the activities in the packet are featured in this blog post.  In addition to what is pictured above there is a letter A games, reading strips, reading rings and alphabet posters.


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