Prep: 10 Minutes / Activity Time: 10 Minutes

Our alphabet letters are made up of sticks and curves arranged in many different ways. For example, the letter ‘A’ has two slant lines with a horizontal line in the middle. The letter ‘H’ also has two lines with a horizontal line in the middle, but the outside lines are vertical. There are slight distinctions between letters. No wonder it can be confusing to children! In this activity, your child will have practice looking at the similarities and differences in keys. This type of practice lays the foundation for later being able to distinguish similarities and differences in letters.

  • old keys of various shapes and sizes
  • paper
  • copy machine
  • pen or marker for tracing around keys (if you do not have access to a copier)


Step 1: Gather a collection of old keys in a variety of shapes and sizes. Be sure that the differences among the keys is fairly obvious.

Step 2: Place six keys on a copy machine and make a copy, or trace around the keys on a piece of paper. You may want to laminate the copy or place it in a page protector for durability.


Step 1: Place the set of six keys and the paper copy with the identical keys on a table or floor. Invite your child to lay each key on the matching picture silhouette on the paper.

Step 2: Talk with your child about the similarities and the differences among the key shapes and sizes.

Reduce the number of keys on the page to just three or four. Use keys that are quite different from one another in shape and size.

Increase the number of keys on the page.