When I am stumped for ideas for entertaining my spirited toddler, I can always think of something to do using our alphabet puzzle mat. This thing is great! I use the individual letters for all sorts of games. We can put the pieces together into a mat or a road or any shape, and it helps our toddler work on his fine motor skills and alphabet at the same time. We use it almost every day.
Letters in Hiding
Sometimes, I take individual letters from the puzzle mat and hide them strategically around the house. For example, I might hide the letter B in the bed, the P under a pillow, the O in his toy oven. I don’t tell him that I have hidden them. I just let him find the letters on his own and then make a big deal about it. “You found a B in the bed! Bed starts with the letter B. B..B..Bed. B…B…Boy… You get the idea.
Often, we make a road out of the letters that winds around corners, through doors, or around furniture. Of course, you have to sing the alphabet song as you walk the alphabet road.
I put a few of the puzzle frames on the floor without the letters in them. Then, I hold up a letter and ask him to find where it goes. As he searches for the correct frame, I talk about the letter and things that start with it. Once he has filled in a few holes, I put out more empty frames. I love this game because instead of looking for the letter, he is looking for a hole the SHAPE of the letter. Plus, it is a healthy challenge for him to fit the letter into the frame.
Alphabet Letter Tracing
My toddler and I work on his fine motor skills by tracing the individual alphabet letters. He still needs help, but it is a fun activity that keeps him entertained.
Sometimes, we put some of the alphabet letters in a pillowcase. (I generally don’t include letters like X, Z, etc.) He reaches in and picks one out. Then, we run around the house looking for things that start with that letter. He gets a nice workout while learning his alphabet.
Letter of the Day
We do this activity a lot. I usually pick a letter based on his latest interest. For example, when he was all about the dog we had D day. I go around the house and find a bunch of small things that start with that letter and put them in a box. Then, I grab the letter from the alphabet puzzle mat, hold it behind my back, and present it to him with the box of items. He spends the next hour playing with the items in the box while I make a big deal about the letter.
Run and Jump!
This one is good for wearing out your spirited toddler while they work on their gross motor skills. I choose about five letters and put them on the floor. Then, I have my energetic little boy run a lap around the downstairs. As he rounds the bend to where I am, I shout out a letter. He has to think quick, find it, and jump on it. I swap out a letter or two and we do it again. It sounds kind of silly, but he will do it a dozen times before he gets bored.