Yesterday, in an effort to keep my kids (and myself) from going crazy we turned on Pandora and had a dancing good time. After we finished dancing, I was making lunch for the kiddies and a Laurie Berkner song came on "Going on a Hunt." If you have small children and you haven't checked out Laurie Berkner, you should. She has cute, catchy songs that you'll have a hard time not singing along to. Once, I even caught myself belting out some Laurie Berkner in the car when my kids weren't even with me. I know, super embarrassing. Please tell me I'm not the only one who's done this? But back to my story, "Going on a Hunt" was playing and I wasn't really paying attention to it until my son asked, "What kind of hunt are they goin' on, Mommy?" I said, "maybe a treasure hunt?" Then my son started talking about the treasure hunt we went on during his 4th birthday pirate party and about how maybe we could do it again because it was so fun.
Then I got to thinking that maybe I could set up some sort of indoor hunt for my son to do when he got up from his nap. Yes, he still naps, not always, but he'd have to go to bed at 6 o'clock every night if he stopped taking a nap. Trust me.
I thought about a treasure hunt with written clues, but I would have to read them and I wasn't really sure what the value in that would be. Then I thought about those picture hunts I've seen on blogs where you take pictures of things in your house and kids go find them, but I have no way of printing pictures at home. Then I thought, what about an Alphabet Hunt?
So while my kids were napping, I looked through the magazines we have in our magazine basket and cut out uppercase alphabet letters from the fronts of or from titles of articles in magazines or catalogs. I glued them on index cards cut in half. I couldn't find Q, X or Z and I had limited time so I drew them with a marker. After I had all of the letters from the alphabet I used a rolled piece of tape and placed the letters all around the downstairs at my son's eye level or below.
When he got up and came downstairs I didn't say anything. After a few minutes he noticed that there were letters all around, so I told him we were going on an Alphabet Hunt. I told him we were going to try to find all of the alphabet letters in order but first we had to decide where we were going to put them when we found them, so we could make sure they were all there. He decided we should lay them out on the couch.
Now you can do this many different ways, I had my son find them in order, but you could let your child find them and put them in order later. My son knows all of his uppercase letters, but I wanted to see if he knew the correct order. I asked him what letter comes first and he started singing the alphabet song, "AB" and said, "B." I corrected him and said that A came first, then B. He found A and we brought it back to the couch, then B, then C and so on.
He needed to resing the alphabet song from the beginning before finding each new letter, which is pretty normal for an emergent reader. He did a great job until he got to the "elemenopee" part of the alphabet. You know how L, M, N, O, P gets lumped together in the middle of the song so it sounds more like a word than five separate letters. That part got him! When I teach the alphabet song the first week of kindergarten, I am VERY, VERY sure to slow down during that part and say each letter separately. I'm guessing in preschool they are not so careful. Which happens, I know. I think I'm only careful about it because I remember my first grade teacher (a good 25 years ago) making a big deal about slowing down and saying each letter when we got to that part. That was back in the old days when kindergarten was where your formal education began and where you spent a good chunk of your kindergarten day playing.
After he got to R, we got back on track and "what comes next" became easy again. Here's a look at all of the letters we found.
After we found all of the letters, we went back through the alphabet song and pointed to each letter as we sang it practicing one-to-one correspondence; each letter we point to is one that we sing. This is also great for teaching directionality (left to right, top to bottom). Then I asked my son to point to certain letters, like "F". He started getting silly and insisted on pointing to the letter while wearing my husband's glove.
We sometimes use different objects such as witch fingers or tongue depressors with googly eyes glued on the end for pointers at school so the gloves were a fun touch.
This activity can be switched up to meet a variety of learning levels. You can try this with lowercase letters or a mixture of upper and lowercase letters for more advanced alphabet practice. You could also print sight words or spelling words on index cards and go on a Word Hunt for higher level readers. I know I've said this before, but if you make it a game, they will be eager to practice.