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{Ten for Tuesday} Tot School: Early Literacy Activities - Letter A Exploration Through the Five Senses (Lots of PreK Activity Add-Ons Too!)

With Wild Thing going to preschool, I knew I wanted to start doing Tot School with Caterpillar -- not only for the learning experiences he would enjoy, but to also make sure I gave him some focused mommy time while Wild Thing was at school. I decided to go with the Letter of the Week approach and to focus on a different sense everyday -- 5 Days, 5 Senses. It seemed like a good way to help me structure the learning experience, and I am giving him multiple ways to engage and explore items and sounds throughout the week. So, here it is: 5 Bins, 10 Activities -- 1 Week of Play and Learning. 

1. We started with Taste and this simple A is for Apple + Avocado Basket. Of course, we started by tasting both the apple and the avocado in the basket and reading the first page from Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A-Z by Lois Ehlert.

2. More Apple Activities: In addition to tasting the apple, we also put the letter A milk caps inside of our foam apple. (This foam apple is recycled from a Very Hungry Caterpillar Storybox, hence the hole in the apple). Caterpillar actually initiated this activity himself with the items he found inside the Letter A basket. I love it when that happens. 
We also looked at our book to do some coloring. 

This was followed by some playdough play. 

3. Each day, I set out a new basket. The following day, the basket focused on Sight. Where we live we like to look for animals - rabbits, quail, birds (we have woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks, hummingbirds, etc.), chicken, horses, etc. In our "A is for Animals" Basket I placed an A is for Ant card, an alligator playdough toy, an animal book and a few other stray animal toys. He immediately wanted to make some alligators out of green playdough. Somehow, I didn't get a photo of the basket or the playdough play, but I do know that we made at least 6 alligators and said "aaaaa" a lot!

4. Fingerprint Ant Craft - Wild Thing joined in the fun on this one. (He was beginning to feel left out). These were so simple and fun. I put a dot of facepaint on each of their first three fingers and helped them make their ant. Then, I simply added the legs and antennae. We love it!
5. Animal Counting - Before we moved on from animals, we also integrated some counting practice by counting the animals in the boys' room (stuffed animals, of course). 

6. Ambulance (Hearing) - Like many young children, my boys love the sound of sirens and think Emergency Vehicles are cool, not yet old enough to grasp that they might mean someone is hurt or sick. Since Wild Thing felt a little left out of all the "A" activities Caterpillar and I did while he was at school, I asked him to help me create my Letter A bin for the next day -- my Ambulance bin. Wild Thing created this Ambulance almost completely by himself. In the bin was the Ambulance, our same milk cap letters and the foam "A" letters and an ambulance word card.

Both of the boys enjoyed playing with it and playing with their other cars, trains, etc. We had lots of sirens, horns, train whistles and other sounds going on that day.

7. Our next basket explores the sense of touch. This was a tough one, but I decided to go with "A is for Air." 
A is the selected word for the letter "a" in Goodnight Moon ABC, so it seemed like a good fit. We discussed how you can feel air, especially from the air conditioner or, as I showed them, from a balloon. I blew up a balloon and then let the air out as it faced them. I discovered that Caterpillar found this a bit scary. He had much more fun playing with a balloon instead. Wild Thing decided he wanted to blow up a balloon himself. After lots of struggles, he decided it might help if he could watch himself in action...
Wild Thing really did learn quite a bit about air from our simple activity. 
Caterpillar mainly had fun playing with a balloon! 

8. For Smell, I created this simple A is for Allspice basket. I intended for us to do some spice painting, but the boys had something different in mind. 

They each poured some Allspice into their small bowls (with some help) and smelled the allspice. I hadn't thought much about putting a couple of straws inside the basket, but I'm glad I did because it allowed me to see Wild Thing's mind in action. Since we had talked a lot about air the previous day, he took the straw and blew the allspice out of the bowl, explaining to me how air worked! Wish I could say I laid the week out like this to deliberately reinforce their understanding of air, but I didn't. Just luck!
I call this "Air in Action."
And "Allspice and Curls."
9. Letter A Sorting - When creating all of the baskets, I intentionally added uppercase or "big" letter "A" milk caps, stickers and such, and lowercase or "little" letter "a" milk caps and stickers, and I love that the Ehlert book features both Upper and Lowercase letters. We ended the week with a Letter A Sorting Activity. Conveniently, our "ambulance" was made from a tofu container that had two sides. We used it with one side for the Big "A" milk caps and the other side for the Little "A" milk caps. I added some paper letters and felt letters as well. Caterpillar beamed with pride when he finished sorting. 

10. Coloring - We wrapped Letter A week up with these really cool A is for Apple Color by Number Coloring Art Pages, which are Inspired by Romero Britto and created by our amazing "Aunt" Emily.
Wild Thing was so proud of his!

I'm thinking of sharing this color sheet as my first ever free printable on the blog, but want to see if there's interest, so leave a comment here or on Facebook if you would like one. Also, we did some other PreK add-ons related to the Letter A and I have some more photos that I plan to share on my Facebook page from our week as well. I'll also be sharing a preview of what we're doing this week for the Letter B. Plus, I've been pinning related activities to my new Tot School Pinboard, which is full of activities for apples (and lots of other activities too) -- some are also great for preschool and kindergarten children as well.

Sharing at: Sharing Saturday, It's Playtime, Artsy Play Wednesday, Sunday Showcase, and Montessori Monday, 31 Days of ABCs - Letter A Linky.

You might also like: 
Alphabet Sensory Bin
Toddler Carwash
Boat + Bus Letter B Box


  1. That is a great post about the letter A. I love all the great activities and the photos of your little ones having fun learning. Ours are learning their letters right now and these activities are perfect. Thank you for sharing. I'd love a free printable for the letter A.

  2. I love how you used all different kinds of sensory ideas to teach the letter A!

  3. I love how you used all different kinds of sensory ideas to teach the letter A!

  4. Love all the sensory activities you have come up with! Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

  5. Lots of great Letter A activities, Jen! I like the way you added the Very Hungry Caterpillar activity to your sensory basket. I featured your sensory basket photo in my 30+ Apple Sensory Tubs at

  6. What fun lessons!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!


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