Teaching letter recognition is a key focus during the preschool years, but there are so many engaging ways to teach the alphabet. We previously shared how we use alphabet mats in various ways over and over again. There are also times we print out our letter mats and use them for single-use projects. One thing we love to do is make process art alphabet crafts.
Yep, right there.
I did hear a few gasps from you. Some of you may be thinking, “Did she just say ‘crafts’? Or maybe you’re thinking, “Ugh, we don’t do letter of the week anymore.”
And yes I am aware in some preschool circles simply mentioning craft or letter of the week can be quite controversial. However, I believe if approached in a developmentally appropriate way crafts used in moderation can add to a preschooler’s learning experience.
And while we don’t teach a strict letter of the week program, I do find that using alphabet mats for various activities and even making letter crafts as we learn about a related theme can be a fun and meaningful way to help kids learn to recognize letters.
In this article we focus on how we use process art for to make preschool alphabet crafts. In our full alphabet mats set, we also discuss ideas for collage and texture alphabet crafts as well as what we do with all of these creations when we’re finished.
Tips for Using Process Art to Make Letter Crafts
1. Remember that process art should be open-ended. Typically we set out materials as an open invitation for kids. Although we may outline some rules for using the materials (i.e. where paint can and cannot go, what to do when finished, etc) we do not give an example for kids to mimic or limit them to creating inside the letter outline. Let them create freely.
2. Take time to notice special designs made with the tools you are using. By combining process art and the alphabet mats you have the opportunity to focus on various elements. Even if your emphasis is on letter recognition and letter sounds, it’s also beneficial to take time to discuss observations made during the artistic process. Kids love seeing the rippling effect made when we use balloon painting to make our letter B crafts.
3. Remember that you already have a ton of materials at your fingertips for process art activities. Take a look around your home or classroom and see what you could use to partner up with your letter mats. We like to to use tools that start with the same sound as the letter we’re practicing, just for an added relationship between the letter and its sound.
4. Remember that you can also incorporate other skills along the way. By using clothespins for this pom pom painting letter P craft kids get to strengthen those fine motor skills. We can also discuss shapes and patterns left behind as we create. Here you can focus on circles and discuss other objects kids know of that would also stamp a circle shape. (Bonus: Test out some of their predictions!)
5. Allow room for extended exploration. Since our alphabet mats are printed on standard sized paper they can be a tad limiting to extended play. We recommend setting up a larger canvas for a group collaboration (or individual if you are working alone at home). Set it out next to your alphabet mats. Then once kids finish their mats and set them aside to dry they can continue experimenting with their friends on the larger canvas if desired.
6. Keep it fun! Some kids will make a couple of quick marks on the paper and then declare they are done. Others will cover the entire paper and still be looking for more space to create. Follow the child’s lead and don’t put pressure on them to create an image that matches the picture you’ve created in your mind when setting up the activity.
Do More with Alphabet Mats
ABC letter mats can be a versatile tool to use in early childhood learning. They can be laminated and used over and over again for letter formation and writing activities. They can also be used to create alphabet books, posters and more. Letter crafts and process art activities related to a letter you are learning can be a fun way for kids to make connections between a letter and something that starts with that beginning sound. In our Alphabet Letter Mats set you’ll find two full sets of alphabet mats to use and tons of ideas for using them. There are over 140 ideas for using the alphabet mats in meaningful ways to reinforce letter recognition and learning letter sounds.
This 181-page resource pack contains the following:
1) Suggestions for Using the Letter Mats-These ideas include ways to use the mats for small group and center activities and can be done for any letter of the alphabet.
2) Process Art Ideas for Each Letter of the Alphabet-60 ideas!
3) Collage and Texture Art Ideas for Each Letter of the Alphabet-54 ideas!
4) Complete sets of alphabet mats in two different font options.