“I want to learn my letters!” That has been my 3 year old’s mantra since her first day of preschool. Her quest has increased ten-fold since my 5 year old has gone from pre-reader to early reader over the last couple of weeks. And while she can sing her ABCs, we are still working on actually recognizing letters. My 3 year old is far more active and requires more engagement from activities than her older sister. So I’ve set out to create a series of letter recognition activities to help her achieve her goal, starting with this super easy ABC bottle.
My oldest daughter has an insanely long attention span. She is a perfectionist, and since birth, will sit and work on something until she gets it just right. She learned her letters and letter sounds almost entirely on her own – through these ABC iPad apps for preschoolers, reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom about 1,000 times, and doing this Melissa & Doug ABC puzzle everyday forever.
My 3 year old, however, is a much more active learner. Her attention span is shorter, and she’s less apt to pursue learning activities independently… even when she “really wants to learn my letters!” She loves learning when she doesn’t realize she’s doing it – especially if I make a game out of it. We have started working on a few letters each week, incorporating different hands-on letter recognition activities. Several of which, use this same, easy to make ABC Bottle.
Make Your Own ABC Bottle
We have used pasta for kids crafts and sensory activities in the past, but this is the first time we have used it for learning our ABCs. I found this fun box of Alphabet Pasta by Ronzoni at our local grocery store. It will run you a little over a $1 for a 12 ounce box.
I like to dye pasta using hand sanitizer and food coloring – it a quick and easy method I learned from my daughter’s preschool teacher. The alcohol in the hand sanitizer dries much faster and smells so much better than other methods, while still producing really vibrant colors.
Making your own ABC Bottle only takes about 5 minutes (plus pasta dry time).
- Open 4 quart size plastic storage bags.
- Add 6-7 pumps of hand sanitizer to each bag.
- Add 5-10 drops of food coloring to each bag, and combine with hand sanitizer. Use more drops of food coloring for lighter colors (yellow, light green), and less for darker colors (red, blue, etc). We used the McCormick Neon Colors for our ABC Bottle.
- Now, add pasta to each bag. We split one full box of Alphabet pasta among the 4 bags.
- Shake each bag vigorously, to fully color all the pasta in the bag. This is my kids’ favorite part!
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and dump pasta out to dry on the paper. Spread it in a thin, even layer for fastest results. It should be fully dry in 2-3 hours.
- Mix all the colors of pasta together. Then, use a funnel (or form a piece of paper into a funnel) to fill a bottle with your colored pasta.
We recycled a Fuji pint-sized water bottle, and it perfectly holds the 12 ounce box of pasta, but you can use any water bottle with smooth sides. Just remove the labels, and any sticky residue first to make way for fun letter recognition activities and games!
5 Letter Recognition Activities with ABC Bottle
You can now use your ABC bottle with any number of letter recognition activities. Here are 5 quick and easy ones to get you started!
This emphasizes recognizing one letter at a time. You can play it every week with your Letter of the Week, or draw a letter out of a bag for your child to search and find. Use a dry erase or water soluble marker, and let them circle the letters as they find them. Then, it’s easily erasable to use over and over again! This pasta also features numbers, so you can work on those too!
Once your child recognizes most of the letters of the alphabet, you can move on to matching letters. Using a separate alphabet set, draw a letter out of a basket for your child to find in the bottle. Add a math element by rolling a die to determine how many of that letter they need to find. Circle the letters as they find them. Repeat with a new letter. You can use different colored markers for different letters.
Pair Lower Case to Upper Case Letters
Most children learn and recognize capital letters first. But to read and properly write their names, they also need to learn to recognize lower case letters. Letter pairs works similarly to Letter Match – only this time, use a lower case alphabet set and match to the capital letter alphabet pasta in the bottle.
Find Your Name
Some of the first letters and the first word your child will recognize is their name. You can help reinforce this by writing it on all their work, and spelling it out loud while you write it. Help them write it by letting them hold the pencil and guiding their hand to form the letters. Have them find and circle the letters of their name in the ABC Bottle for extra reinforcement.
Find Beginning Sounds
Once children recognize their letters, the next step towards reading is learning letter sounds. You can use pictures, flash cards, or even a basket of animals or manipulatives that fit a theme. Encourage your child to name the objects aloud, identify the beginning sound, and then find and circle the matching letter on their ABC Bottle.
A fun place to start this game is with the Melissa & Doug ABC puzzle which features pictures of objects that start with the letter of the alphabet behind each puzzle piece.
ABC Bottle Activities for Older Kids
You don’t have to toss your ABC Bottle once your child has learned their letters and letter sounds. It can be a great learning resource
Spell Site Words
Print these FREE printable site word cards from Learning 4 Kids. Use them to search for letters in your ABC Bottle to spell site words.
Practice Spelling Words
Does your early elementary student HATE studying their weekly spelling list? Turn it into a fun hands-on learning experience. They can shake a few pasta letters out of the bottle and spell their words out with them, or search for letters in the ABC bottle to spell them out.
How Many Words Can You Find?
This is a game the whole family could play. Using one side of the bottle, and a timer, give each player a minute to find as many words as they can using the letters they see on their side of the bottle!
More Alphabet and Letter Recognition Activities
Looking for more hands-on learning activities to teach your child their letters? We love this awesome list of 50+ Alphabet Activities for Toddlers from our friend Susie at Buys Toddler. And when your child is ready to move on from recognizing letters to letter formation, we love these Letter Books and 26 Ways to Make Letters from Pocket of Preschool.
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