Activity Sneak Peak:
- Under 1 minute set-up time
- No cleanup
- Works on fine motor and cognitive skills for letter learning
- For 24+ months
Your toddler can begin to recite the alphabet before age 2, but recognizing and identifying the actual letters can take a bit longer. You can start teaching your toddler the letters of the alphabet around 2 years old.
This is a multi-sensory activity using a dry erase board and dry erase marker or eraser to help your child learn to recognize letters. You don’t need a large easel if you don’t have one, but a small dry erase board will work just as well.
This activity does NOT require your child to the write the letters, but erase them instead. This way, it just focuses on identifying the letters which a 2 year old is capable of. Writing letters comes later.
A Multi-Sensory Approach to Learning
Since toddlers learn through play and exploration of their environment, they understand best when taking a hands-on approach to learning. Every child also has their own style when it comes to absorbing new information. Some children may learn best while jumping up and down, feeling objects with their fingers, or listening to a song.
This activity incorporates standing up, a vertical surface, and probably using new tools like dry erase markers and boards that they don’t use every day. It’s a simple activity with very little preparation, set-up, or clean up. Your toddler will love it!
What you need:
- Dry erase board or dry erase easel
- Dry erase marker (with eraser included preferably)
- Dry eraser or tissue (if it’s not attached to marker)
What to do:
1. Draw all the letters of the alphabet with a dry erase marker. You can write them in any orientation you wish: ABC order or scattered throughout the board. If your child is younger or just starting to learn letters, write just a few letters to not overwhelm them. If your child is older and has mastered all the uppercase letters, try it with lower case letters.
2. Demonstrate for your child how to do the activity: Tell them that you will tell them a letter to find. Then they must locate it on the board and erase it. Don’t erase any other letters around it!
3. Tell your child a letter. Have them find the letter on the board and erase it using the end of their marker with an eraser tip or a full dry eraser. The markers with erasers work better because they cover a smaller surface area, otherwise, you risk your child erasing more letters than they should.
4. Depending on their developmental level and how much they know about the letters, you can make this task more challenging or add more concepts to it. For the older ones, ask them questions such as, What sound does that letter make? What word starts with that letter? For the younger ones you can still tell them what sound the letter makes and what word starts with that letter. Have them repeat you for memory.
5. Continue until all the letters are erased.
Skills that this activity addresses:
This is a fun activity that addresses a variety of skills. For this dry erase letter learning activity, your toddler is learning and practicing:
- Letter and Sound Recognition: Learning new letters and the sounds they make
- Fine Motor Skills: Holding the dry erase marker with a proper grasp to erase and strengthening their wrist and shoulder muscles by erasing on a vertical surface.
- Visual Scanning: Locating the letters as they’re scattered.
Ways to incorporate cognition and language:
You really can and SHOULD incorporate cognition (knowledge) and language into any activity you are doing with your little one. Just merely talking through the steps that they’re performing will help build their vocabulary and understanding of new words and concepts.
Remember your toddler is constantly listening and absorbing everything around them, including language. Here are a few ways to build cognition and language during this activity:
- Ask them what color marker they are using or what color the letters are
- Teach them new vocabulary such as erase, dry erase board, marker, alphabet, letters
- Have them tell you what word begins with that letter and what sound it makes
- Have them tell you what letter comes after or before it in the alphabet.
Ways to work on fine motor skills:
Fine motor skills allow us to use the small muscles of our hands and fingers. They enable us to grab, manipulate, turn, twist, and hold objects. This activity can help develop these skills in a variety of ways.
- If you’re using a marker with an eraser tip, make sure they are holding the marker just as if they were using it to write. Using a correct grasp even while erasing will help them remember to always hold their writing tool the correct way.
- Have them trace the letter with the erase tip instead of just erasing while scribbling. This will help them learn how to form the letter.
- Work on a vertical surface when you can. This helps to stabilize the muscles of the wrist, forearm, and shoulder. If you don’t have an easel, prop up the dry erase board against something higher or even tape it to the wall.
- Make sure they are using the other hand to hold onto the board or easel.
Although your child may have the ability to learn their letters at 2, it’s not a necessary skill until they are even approaching 4 or even 5. So don’t stress over teaching them too much and make learning fun!