Hello, lovelies! This week’s Discover and Explore theme is “ABCs and 123s,” so I decided to come up with a fun way to introduce letters in a playful, non-threatening way to toddlers/young preschoolers using the classic book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.
I want to preface this post by saying that I strongly believe letters and numbers should be incorporated very naturally into the lives of young children- not by drilling with flashcards, worksheets, and apps, but through book sharing, environmental print, and play. I’ll write more about my philosophy as I introduce more early literacy activities to the twins (and share them with you all), but I do think that forcing kids to read before they are developmentally ready has the opposite affect than is intended by well-meaning parents and teachers. Some kids are ready for reading way before others are even interested in naming letters, so it’s important to take your cues from your kiddos!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has been a favorite book at our house for a couple of months now, especially for my daughter, who asks for it every night without fail at bedtime. I love how the authors make the alphabet come to life with their catchy rhythmic text and brightly colored illustrations. In the book, all the lowercase letters race to climb a coconut tree, eventually causing it to topple over with a loud BOOM BOOM!
Since both of my toddlers are showing interest in letter naming, I decided to make a puppet that we could use to act out the story. I’ve included instructions below if you’d like to make your own- it only took me one morning (with a few dozen interruptions) to complete it and you don’t even need a sewing machine, I promise!
First, you need to make your tree. I used freezer paper to trace my arm and hand with fingers spread (see photo below) and then outlined the shape, adding about 1/2 inch margin all the way around. Using this pattern, I cut two pieces of brown fleece (you could also use flannel or felt), stacked them together, stitched around the outside with my sewing machine, and then turned the whole thing inside out. However, if you don’t want to sew, you could easily just hot glue around the edges and be done with it!
After creating the base for the tree, I freehanded some leaves (using the cover of the book as a guide) on three different colors of green felt, cut them out with sharp scissors, and hot glued them onto the tree.
To create the coconuts, I took two wooden spheres from the craft store and wrapped them with brown yarn, securing the yarn every so often with the hot glue. Then I glued the coconuts onto the tree.
Lastly, I made a set of lowercase alphabet letters using wooden coins from the craft store and lowercase foam stickers. I attached velcro dots to the backs of the coins so they would stick to the felt leaves. They also stick to the fleece if you wiggle them slightly. So fun!
And there you have it! To play, I put all the letter coins in a little baggie had the twins select a few letters each before we read the book (the rest stayed out of sight in the baggie so as not to overwhelm them). We looked at each letter and matched the letters as we came across them while reading- they twins got so excited when I came to a letter that they had in their little stash! Each time a match was made, that child got to put the letter on the tree puppet. And of course, the tree came crashing down with a BOOM right along with the story. It was a big hit!
Discover and Explore Co-host of the Week: Chelsey from Buggy and Buddy
For the next four weeks, I thought I would highlight one of my lovely co-hosts so you can get to know them all a bit better. This week’s co-host of the week is Chelsey from Buggy and Buddy. A former elementary school teacher, Chelsey describes herself as a “writer, creator, avid reader and lifelong learner.” Chelsey has two adorable children ages 5 and 2. You’ll find everything from science and reading activities to art projects and crafty tutorials on her site- please take a moment to hope over and explore- you’ll be glad you did! My favorite post from Buggy and Buddy has to be these amazing Homemade Weaving Looms- so dreamy!
Please read the following guidelines for sharing:
- Share family-friendly posts related to the weekly topic — kids activities, book activities, crafts, recipes, nature outings, free printables–anything that might be helpful to those wanting to put together activities based on this week’s theme
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- Visit 2-3 other posts that have linked up, find some new ideas & meet new friends!
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The linky will remain open for a week and a half. Then all co-hosts will feature activities in a separate post on Fridays and share featured posts on the Discover and Explore Pinterest Board. If you aren’t already, please remember to follow us so you’re sure not to miss those feature posts. And don’t forget to stop by and visit my lovely co-hosts to see what they are sharing for this week’s theme!
Upcoming Discover and Explore themes:
Down on the Farm