Just because "Z" is the last letter of the alphabet doesn't mean that you have to put it last when it comes to your preschooler's early literacy learning. Initiating certain activities that encourage early forms of reading and writing help aid in the development of conventional literacy as your child matures, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Try padding your little learner's letter Z repertoire with entertaining -- and of course, educational -- activities.
1. Alphabet Books
Alphabet-themed books can help pre-k kids to learn how to identify letters. Sit down in a quiet place, such as your child's bedroom, and read an alphabet book that contains the letter Z -- with your preschooler. Ask him to point out the letter Z on the pages and say the words for the Z-themed pictures. For example, read "Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book" by Dr. Zeuss, "The Alphabet Room" by Sara Pinto, or "Arches to Zigzags: An Architecture ABC" by Michael J. Crosbie.
Free downloadable printables provide an easy activity for your preschooler. Visit a kids' activity or educational website, such as First-School or KB Teachers, to choose a page that features the letter itself or Z-themed pictures of last letter favorite words. Download and print the pages on your home computer. Give your child crayons, markers, finger paints or colored pencils to decorate the Zs. Hang the finished products on the fridge or on your child's bedroom wall. Refer back to the letter printables every day to help her remember what she is learning about Z words.
3. Z-is-for-Zebra Activities
One of the most notable Z words that your little learner most likely knows is "zebra." Celebrate the letter Z with a few Z-is-for-zebra crafts. Make a zebra stick puppet using a paper plate with a craft stick taped to the back. Have your preschooler draw or paint black stripes on the white plate. Add two googly eyes, nostrils and a smile to make the animal's face. Cut two pointed ovals from white paper for ears, gluing them to the top of the plate. Another option is to make a life-sized "zebra." Find a simple picture of a zebra and draw and very basic outline of one on a large piece of rolled or butcher paper. Have your child paint or color with black and white stripes to complete.
4. Sound Matching
Switch up the letters and help your little one learn to tell the difference between Z and C, B, G or D -- or any other letter for that matter. Create a sound-matching game to help your child choose which pictures start with the letter Z. For example, write at least five letters of the alphabet -- including Z -- each on a note card. Paste pictures of words that begin with the letters, such as a dog for D and a zipper for Z, on another set of note cards. Pick up a picture card and have your preschooler say the name of what she sees. Have her stress the first sound, then ask her if it is a Z or not. If it is, ask her to pick up the letter Z card from the group of letter cards.
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