My middle child, Audrey, is getting ready to start kindergarten. (I can’t believe she is so big already!) She is going to be one of the youngest in her class so I have been trying to do a little kindergarten prep with her before she starts. Mostly, I’ve been trying to teach her the ABCs. I learned very quickly that she get’s bored with any kind of learning activity that requires her to sit still (O I hope her kindergarten teacher is patient!). She gets antsy and bored and doesn’t retain the information very well past the first 5 minutes. Therefore, I decided that I needed to come up with something that would make it fun for her to learn the ABCs. Enter the ABC Alligator game!
The ABC alligator game is a very easy concept. When I came up with it I wrote all of the letters on a piece of paper. One piece of paper for each letter. I then laid out the papers in a grid pattern on the floor. The papers were stepping stones and the floor was a swamp. When I called out a letter she had to jump onto that stepping stone. If she jumped onto the right stepping stone she was safe. If she chose the wrong letter, the alligator (me) “got” her (tickled her). She LOVES this game. When we started out, I only used 5 letters (A through E). As she learned those letters, I added more until we had all 26 letters laid out as stepping stones. She has learned her letters very quickly and still asks to play the game almost every day. Olive, my two year old, even likes to get in on the fun.
I loved playing the game with her, but the papers tore and crumpled up pretty easily and I was having to redraw a few every time we played so I decided to make fabric letter stepping stones. They were really easy to make, and I’m going to show you how I did it!
What you need:
- 52 fabric squares 1′ square (~0.3 m square) – 26 for the fronts of the stepping stones and 26 for the backs
- Fabric paint
- Fabric paint brush
- A serger or sewing machine and basic sewing necessities
Now I went the easier, thrifty route for this project. My scrap pile seems to have to taken on a life of it’s own lately so I wanted to thin it out. I used different scrap fabric for the backs of the stepping stones and white muslin for the fronts. However, you could absolutely fancy it up some by using appliques for the letters instead of fabric paint or binding the raw edges instead of serging them. Your imagination is your limit!
I made the stepping stones 1′ square (~0.3 m square) but you can make them any size you please. Just make sure that little feet can fit on them. Then I used fabric paint to paint a letter onto each front square.
This was my first time using fabric paint and I learned a few things through trial and error (mostly error). First off, the paint will go through the fabric so you need to lay something down to protect it. I foresaw this and I laid down newspaper. However, that wasn’t the best decision. The newspaper stuck to the fabric and didn’t come off (you can read part of an article through my “L”). After looking at the bottle, (which I should have done first!) I saw that it suggested cardboard. I didn’t have any plain cardboard but I did have comic book boards (I use them to store my fabric) so I used them. I painted all of the letters and let the fabric squares dry for 4 hours. One more thing I learned is that using a stencil would have been much neater. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, there is a reason I draft all of my patterns directly on my computer, I can’t draw! I have horrible handwriting, too. Therefore my letters looks a bit sloppy, but instead of stressing over it I’m just saying that they have character and leaving it at that.
Once the paint was dry, I laid one front square on top of one back square, wrong sides together, and serged the edges together. If you don’t have a serger you can use your sewing machine and either do a faux overlock stitch or you can lay the two squares right sides together, sew all the way around the edges except for a ~2″ gap. Then trim the corners and turn the square right side out through the gap, and topstitch all the way around, making sure to close the gap. Sorry I don’t have a pic of that since I serged all of my squares. Once you have your squares sewn together you’re all done! Now you can play!
Audrey was so excited for this game she stood right next to my serger and after every letter was ready she would ask me, “Can we play yet?”
This game has worked wonders for her letter recognition. I think hearing the letter, having to find the letter, and then jumping on the letter, really helped her to retain the information. Once your child gets the letters down playing this game, you can switch it up and your child can be the alligator and you can be the jumper. This means that instead of hearing the letter and then picking out the right one, they now have to see the letter they want to call out, name it, and then decide if you are right and safe or if you are wrong and need a tickling. It truly is a fun way to learn the ABCs, for children and adults. Well, at least I have a lot of fun playing it. Just look at that jump!
Let me know if you try it out! I’d love to hear if it helps anyone else learn their ABCs!