We know that children learn through all their senses–it’s why so many toys go in their mouths during baby storytime, or why math manipulatives such as unit blocks or Cuisenaire rods can be so insightful to play with. The kinesthetic exploration of shapes and letter forms via puzzles, play dough, sensory tables, and body movements all help children build their letter knowledge without using flashcards, drilling, or quizzing.
A simple activity to add to storytime is to act out letters with our bodies! You can tell the kids, “We are going to stretch our bodies into letter shapes!” If you like, you can print out or draw one large letter on a piece of printer paper to show them. Some “easy” letters to attempt are I, L, T, Y, or O or C. You could say, “How can we make our bodies look like the letter L? It’s got two straight lines and a corner. Let’s see.” Give the children a few seconds to try it themselves, and then model a solution for them in front of the group. “Look, if I kneel on the floor, my feet are the short part of the L and my body is the long part of the L! How else could we make an L?”
Do this activity several times. You can ask the parents to work together with their children to form the first letter of their child’s name, too.
When you’ve played for a little while, tell the parents something like this: “When your children explore letter shapes in different ways, such as play dough, in the sand box, or with their bodies, they gain practice seeing the letter shape in lots of different situations. Good readers need to quickly recognize many variations of each letter form.”