Below you’ll find my favorite preschool supplies for teaching early literacy. They’re perfect for preschool classrooms or home preschools.
“We just need a marker and some paper to teach these kids to read!”
A dear friend of mine, from my kindergarten teaching days, often said this to me. She was always prone to dropping bits of wisdom like that in my lap. Even though it’s been over ten years now, what she said still pops up in my head now and then.
In this case, her words were a reminder that we don’t really need anything fancy to teach children early literacy skills. Above all else, a teacher’s (or parent’s!) most valuable teaching tool is her knowledge (enthusiasm is right up there, too). So, yes, I am pretty confident I could teach a child to read with just a marker and some paper.
But, given my druthers, I’d rather break out some awesome literacy materials to help me. With them, I can set up a wide variety of hands-on literacy activities for the kiddos. In fact, I’ve find myself falling back on certain preschool supplies over and over again in my teaching career.
Here are some of my favorites. Keep in mind, these are great in AND out of the classroom. So if you’re working on early literacy with your own children, these would still be helpful to you! Don’t forget to tell me about your favorites after you read through mine!
Traditional Preschool Supplies for Teaching Literacy
This list is in no particular order! Some days, one material is at the top of my list. Other days, a different material is #1. It really just depends on what I’m teaching that day, and it also depends on what my students are into. These are probably the things you think of when considering traditional preschool supplies.
This one is likely obvious, but paper definitely makes my top 10 list. It can be printer paper, chart paper, construction paper – whatever gets the job done! Some ideas for using paper to teach literacy:
I’ve got a ton of magnetic letters that are perfect for teaching children about early literacy. Kids can literally get their hands on the smallest part of the written language with these letters. Some ideas for magnetic letters:
Letter tiles are another material I like to keep in my early literacy toolkit. Like magnetic letters, the tiles let kiddos manipulate the basic parts of words and sentences. Use letters for:
- Making winter words
- Match letter tiles to objects that start with each letter
- Making Christmas words
- Sort the letter tiles by letter
A wide variety of writing tools have to be on this list, too! I’m referring to markers, crayons, pencils, chalk, and pens of course. But I’m also referencing things like sticks, pompoms, and paintbrushes. They don’t have to be the traditional writing implements we all think of. Anything that allows children to make marks somehow or the other. Some ideas for you:
- Writing tray with a paintbrush
- Grab a clipboard and write words found around the room
- Rainbow name writing with crayons
I can’t forget books (not that I ever would, really)! Listening to books and stories allows children to enjoy so many nuances of written and spoken language. They can learn vocabulary, rhyming skills, letter-sound knowledge, and so many more early literacy skills with these wonderful books. Books we love:
Some of My Favorite Unconventional Preschool Literacy Supplies
When teaching young children, you have to think outside the box. It’s a must. They need to be engaged, excited, and hands-on with their learning. That’s where my less conventional favorites come into play!
Sensory materials are a must-have for literacy learning. Kids learn by exploring their world through all of their senses. Crafting literacy activities based on that knowledge is important, which is where the sensory materials come in. Here are a few ways we’ve used sensory materials to explore early literacy:
ICE CUBE TRAYS
This may make you laugh, but ice cube trays are definitely one of my favorite literacy tools. I have so many ice cube trays, and I have to admit I rarely use them for ice to put in my drinks! How to use ice cube trays to teach literacy:
- Fine motor skills with mini erasers in ice cube trays
- Freeze letters in ice cube trays
- Icy fizzing letters
- Name ice melting
Rocks. Yes, rocks. Kids love them, so rocks are engaging to begin with. They also appeal to children’s tactile natures, and the weight adds a different sensory experience to the learning. Literacy ideas with rocks:
- Retelling The Mitten with story rocks
- Write letters on rocks to practice the alphabet or make names
- Move rocks for each sound in a word
I have to make sure that stickers are on this list, too. The process of peeling stickers from their sheets is a fine motor experience for kids. On top of that, they can be used for making books, putting together literacy games, creating stories, and for letter-sound matching. Use stickers to:
- Make a book about colors
- Match alphabet stickers to picture stickers based on initial sound
- Put together sticker names
Play dough is last, but not least, for this list. Manipulating play dough helps get kids’ hands and fingers in writing shape. Kiddos can use play dough to:
- Form letters and words, or use tools to write in the play dough
- Stamp rhyming words
- Explore language skills with a small world
An Awesome eBook for Teaching Kids Letters and Numbers
I absolutely adore this eBook. Yes, I’m a little biased since I worked together with other parents and teachers to create it. That doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing in its own right, of course! ABCs and 123s is full of 40+ kids’ hands-on activities for learning the alphabet and numbers. Each activity is kid-approved and geared towards children ages 2 to 8. Grab the eBook now.
Download your copy of ABCs and 123s today, and you’ll get a wonderful bonus printable pack for free! This is only available until May 7, 2017 so get it today!
What are some of YOUR favorite early literacy preschool supplies (or kindergarten supplies)?