Tremendous Ideas to JAZZ up your Numbers and Letter Recognition Lessons

I LOVE this tidbit I came across recently while reading blogs here and there. I'm  always on the lookout for great ideas of materials to use to teach kids and I am never as excited as when I come across gems like this one at Thanks Primary Graffiti Resources. Click to visit her blog.

You can make teaching letters and numbers so much more engaging using these tips.

 Pasta ABC's. 
Just think of all the possibilities in the classroom. 
I always had students needing to work on letter recognition and I was always looking for different and new ways to work on this goal. Worksheets of course sometimes work but when you work on letter recognition year after year, you need something to JAZZ things up!

You can use so many things to teach letters and sounds but one thing this has going for it is how different it is. Kids will get a kick out of using these to practice letter sounds. Now that you have the letters...JAZZ it up and color the pasta. If you have kids like mine you will want to make certain you color it in such a way that they are safe in case they end up in someone's mouth. 

 Use a vinegar solution such as is used with coloring eggs and food color.
  1. Use containers with lids that can stay on during shaking. Perhaps the disposable type of container might work well. Place your dry pasta in the container. Pour 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and ample food coloring onto the pasta. You may also want to try icing coloring.                                                                
  2. Close the lid tightly and shake, shake, shake. Lay them out to dry and you are ready for your next color.
Here is one using water and food coloring.
  1. Cook the pasta.
  2. Combine 2 T of water and approximately 20 drops of your preferred food coloring in a zipper type bag.
  3. When the pasta is cooked al dante, transfer it to a colander and rinse with cold water. Seal the bag.
  4. Use your hands  on the outside of the bag to mix the pasta and thoroughly infuse the color into the pasta. Let each bag sit for a few minutes.
  5. Transfer the cooked, colored pasta back into the colander and rinse with cold water. Then put it into a pot or dish.
  6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for each color of pasta.
You can let them dry or use them and eat them.

One thing I like about this pasta is the size of it. I have used cereal letters before but for kids that often have fine motor issues, cereal letters are quite small. Also, when kids get to work with pasta, they often think its fun so they aren't sure they are learning. Check out the picture above from

One of the things my kids absolutely ADORED was having their own belongings. They loved pencil containers they could call their own, adored their backpacks and they were really attached to their letter boxes. 
I purchased blank, white metal mini lunch boxes from Oriental Trading. The only ones they have currently, are a bit larger than the ones I purchased I decorated the boxes with stickers, their names and pictures of the them,  then put things such as magnet letters, peel and stick letters, sand paper letters and even tracing letters inside. Inside the boxes I selected the items that were appropriate for each student. They were able to keep the lunch bins in their desks or cubbies and they even transported back and forth to school easily. These boxes were used over and over again.  The decorations came off easily so I was able to reuse them several times that year before I sent them home with the kids for summer with summer work to keep their skills up.

Another great way to practice letters whether its individually or if you are just working one to one with a student, use some tracing letters. Below you will see numbers that have a groove routed out in the appropriate shape.This makes the perfect place for kids to use their fingers and trace along the path of the letter or number. 
Another idea I love to use is colored sand. Color your own sand or purchase sand already in beautiful colors such as this one
Coloring Sand There are many ways to color sand. You can use food coloring. 1. Put sand in a jar with a lid that can close securely. 2. Cover the sand completely with water. 3. Add 1-2 drops of food coloring and stir completely. 4. You add more food coloring for more intense colors or mix food coloring together to achieve new colors. 5. Use cheesecloth to strain the the liquid from the sand mixture. 6. Spread the sand out on paper towels or old towels. Take precautions such as putting plastic under the towels to avoid stains from the coloring coming through to the table of counter space. 7. Let dry completely then store in a closed container.

Put a little bit of water in the sand and you have a fantastic way for kids to trace their letters or even write words

All of these ideas can be adapted to be used either as independent work stations, one to one teacher and student work, small group work or even assessment methods. We have so much assessing to do, why not make it fun for the kiddos? What ideas have you used? Head on over to Special Ed Spot  and  share your ideas about what you use.

More next time.

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