Friday, August 30, 2019

Alphabet Bean Sensory Bin for Toddlers & Preschoolers

Does your child know the letters in her name? Does she know any of the letters of the alphabet? Not yet? No big deal! Today we’re going to explore alphabet letters in a fun and simple way- through PLAY!

Before we get started with our activity, let’s chat a bit about letters and letter learning.

Why do you think learning letter names and sounds is important?

One of the first things I hear parents say as they get their child ready for preschool or kindergarten is, “Does your child know all his letters?”

Did you know? Letter learning is just one of the many things that help get kids on their way to learning to read. It is NOT the first thing they need to learn and is definitely not the only thing.

Knowing how to look at letters and notice their differences is helpful on a child’s path to becoming readers… but it is not the end all be all of their education!

For years many teachers emphasized “Letter of the Week” curriculum (and some still do), but now many teachers have realized that children learn better by engaging with letters in a variety of ways and focusing on the letters that mean more to them (ie. letters in their name or their favorite store or toy name) versus just going through them in order.

Toddlers and preschoolers also need to have authentic literacy experiences. Reading together is a great time to help children notice and use letters!

This week is our ALPHABET WEEK here on the blog.

You can find our 25+ easy favorite Alphabet activities here!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

To kick off Alphabet week we are going to read one of our favorite Alphabet books, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and then we have a simple alphabet sensory bin with Alpha-Bots that we want to show you!

Have you ever heard of Alpha-Bots?

We got our Alpha-Bots from Lakeshore five or six years ago and they are genius! They change from being 26 letters to super-cool robots! Toddlers and preschoolers get a kick out of transforming them and playing with them around the house. They remind us of transformers, with an alphabet twist. We thought they would be THE PERFECT addition to a sensory bin!

What if you don’t have Alpha-Bots?

For this activity all you need are some alphabet letters. You can use alphabet puzzle pieces or alphabet magnets if you don’t have your own set of Alpha-Bots.

Supplies for our Alpha-Bot Alphabet Sensory Bin

  • Alpha-Bots (or alphabet puzzle pieces or alphabet magnets, etc)
  • Black beans (dried)- or another sensory bin filler
  • Large plastic tub or sensory table
  • Large roll of paper
  • Marker
  • Painters Tape
  • Scissors

How to Set up your Alpha-Bot Alphabet Bin

1. To get started you’ll want to add your sensory bin filled to your large plastic container. We are using dried black beans for this activity, but you can use noodles or white beans, or any other sensory bin filler you have lying around.

2. Next, roll out a piece of paper and cut it. Stick it to a table or the floor nearby with painters tape. Write the entire alphabet on the paper with a black marker (or just a few favorite letters if all 26 sounds overwhelming to you and your child).

3. Now you’re ready to add the Alpha-Bots to the bean bin. Make sure to cover them and twist the Alpha-bots so that they look like robots.

How to play with your Alpha-Bot Alphabet Bin!

Invite your child to come explore the bin, put the alphabet robots together, and match them to their corresponding spot on the alphabet paper. For example, make the robot into a “M” and then find the “M” on the white paper and place it on top. 

This is a no rules activity!

There really are no rules with this activity though... other than don't throw things out of the bin. Kids can match the letters, explore the Alpha-bots, make them into letters and back into robots, and even hide them in the beans! The goal is for kids to have fun, use their imaginations, and explore the names of the alphabet a bit. This works best if an adult is nearby and is encouraging the kids and talking to them about the letters.

If your child just wants to play with the Alpha-bots as robots and dig in the sensory bin, that is totally OK!

Want to read some other awesome Alphabet books and find some other fun activities? Check out some of our alphabet activity favorites over at Virtual Book Club for Kids.

If you liked this Alphabet activity, you might like these others:

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