Prep: None / Activity Time: 3-5 Minutes

Your child has started learning letters, and you may have been practicing writing them in the sand, with finger paint or even writing on paper. The next time you are out running errands, plan for some extra time to be able to stop and look at the giant letters mounted on the front of the buildings. What a great way to recognize familiar letters or learn about new ones.

Step 1: When you arrive at a store, find a safe place to stand where you and your child can see the letters on the building. Bring the letters to his attention by pointing to them and talking about them. Encourage him to tell you anything he may know about the letters, either the name of the store or the name of any letter he recognizes. For example:

“Look Matthew! Do you see the letters? See how big they are! Do you know what store this is? Yes, this is _____. What letters do you see?”

Accept any attempt your child makes to name letters.

Step 2: Point to the first letter in the store name, say the letter name and letter sound. Encourage him to repeat the letter name and sound. For example:

“The first letter in the word is P. P makes the /p/ /p/ sound. Can you say /p/ /p/ P?”

Step 3: Explain that you can write the letter in the air together. Stand next to your child so that you are both facing in the same direction. With a straight arm, point your index finger towards the letter and say:

“Let’s write the letter P in the air! We will make our arm go straight like an arrow and point our finger way up to the top of the letter. Let’s write the line that goes straight down, like this. Now go back to the top and we’ll give it a curve out to the right and back to the middle. What letter did we write? Yes, we wrote a /p/ /p/ P. Say it with me, /p/ /p/ P!”

Step 4: If your child is interested, continue with the next letter, or perhaps the next store. Acknowledge your child’s interest any time he notices a letter. Use that as an opportunity to stop and write it in the air!

Choose a store that has the first letter of your child’s name in it. Give your child an index card with the letter written on it as a visual clue. Have him help you find the letter on the building and write it in the air together.

Say the name of a letter and ask your child to find it. As you air write the letter, ask if he knows the sound it makes.