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TOYplay Tips: Letter Puzzles by Melissa & Doug

The Melissa & Doug Letter Puzzles set is a great educational toy for preschoolers or Kindergartners to teach letter recognition and

Self-Correcting Alphabet Letter Puzzles

letter sounds. Normally, when you think of puzzles, you think of a quiet activity. And, don’t get me wrong, these puzzles are great for a quiet, independent activity. But, on a cold and snowy afternoon, I discovered a fun way to use these puzzles to get my kids moving indoors and learning at the same time.

I divided the puzzle pieces into groups of four (the last two groups were 3 each).  My 3-year-old is still learning to recognize some of the letters, so it was important to do small groups at a time (and in sequence) so that she didn’t become overwhelmed.

We started with A, B, C, D. I separated the letter piece from the picture piece, but still had them side-by-side. We went down the line and I asked her to tell me the letter when I pointed. If she didn’t know it, I told her and asked her to repeat it. Then I asked her to say the name of each picture (note: the word is printed under the picture). We then went over the letter sounds – I asked her to repeat each sound after me as I pointed to the letter.

After we were done identifying the letters, pictures/words, and sounds, the fun and active part began! I took the 4 letter pieces and laid them on the floor about 10 feet from the picture pieces. I explained that, when I made the letter sound, she had to pick up the picture that started with that sound and run to find the matching letter piece. When she found the letter piece, she was supposed to shout the letter and fit the pieces together, then run back for the next “letter sound” hint. We did that, one-by-one, until all 4 sets were matched.She loved that it felt like a race (even though I wasn’t timing her) and she did a great job remembering the letter sounds and matching the correct picture piece to the letter piece.

We then started with another group of four (E, F, G, H) and continued until we reached the end of the alphabet. Well, almost the end – she became tired when we reached X, Y, Z, which was much further than I thought we’d get.

My 5-year-old was there too and, although she knew her letters and sounds, she had fun giving hints to my 3-year-old and helping with the activities. It also reinforced what she’s been learning in school and the words printed under the pictures served as a great word recognition activity for her.

Developmental areas: Letter recognition, letter sounds, early reading skills, motor development.

Recommended ages: 3-5 years

Play time: 30-45 minutes

Extension activities (suggested by Melissa & Doug on the back of the storage box):

Matching game, sorting activity, letter, sounds and word recognition activity, color recognition, memory game, grab bag game, pick the picture, and story time.

Tested and review written by:

Shannon McAfee (Founder/Owner of TOYconomy), 3 and 5-year-old daughters


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