It’s easy to help your children build their early literacy skills at home! There are five practices that do this: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. Building an Alphabet Box is a great way to support reading, talking, and playing on a daily basis in your home!
What is an Alphabet Box? It can work in a few different ways, but basically it’s a tool for building knowledge of the alphabet with your child. Every day you can have the box represent a new letter in the alphabet, then fill that box with things you have around the house that start with that letter. It could be pictures of the items or the physical items. Spend some time each day with your child searching through box together.
Bonus Activity: To increase their learning, write out the word of each item to match the item to the word, emphasizing the beginning letter that you are trying to teach them.
What will you need?
- 1 Cardboard Box or Container
- 1 Clear Plastic Sleeve
- Flashcards or Paper cut into squares
- Stickers to decorate
Find a box you would like to use! The one in this picture is a $2 gift box from the dollar store, but a container or shoe box would work great for this.
Next cut the clear plastic sleeve to fit just a bit bigger than the flash cards. You want to measure this out from the bottom corner that has two already sealed together ends. Tape the square of clear plastic to the box leaving an opening for the flash cards.
Finish the box by decorating it. Use the flash cards to write each letter of the alphabet.
Pro-tip: No clear plastic sleeves? No problem! Try using a ziplock bag instead!
Now that your box is complete, the fun part begins. Pick a letter from your deck of flash cards and slip it into the opening of the clear plastic. If you chose the letter “B” for example, you will spend time searching around the house for things that start with the letter “B”. However, there are many variations to this game!
Variation 1: The caregiver picks all of the items that start with the letter “B” and places them in the box. Once the box is filled, the child and caregiver spend some time looking through the box talking about what each item is. As they pull out the item from the box say something like “B is for Book, B is for Blanket, B is for…” For each item they pull out emphasize which letter of the alphabet all of the items represent.
Bonus Activity: Have a written list to put the items beside to demonstrate how the item would be shown in writing. This helps children become familiar with written language and allows them to see that letter groups (words) have meaning to them.
Variation 2: Have the child search around the house for items that start with the letter on the box. If they are just beginning to relate items to letters you may want to go over a list with pictures of a few items first. Ex: The letter on the box is “B”, so you show them a set of flash cards or list of items that start with the letter “B”, like Books, Bricks, Belts, Box etc. Now the children go on a hunt for those items! This will exercise memory as well as place meaning to the letters in front of them!
Variation 3: Repeat the same steps as variation 1, but after the children have had time to discover and explore the items in the box, take a minute to hide them around the house. Now see how many of the items the kids are able to re-find and relate back to the letter B.
To help you in your item gathering, we have a list of potential items you may have in your home ranging from A-Z!