Looking for a hands-on ABC activity that doesn’t require paper and pencil? Check out the Sand Bucket Activity below!
If you’re looking for a fun hands-on ABC activity to help your toddler and preschooler learn his/her letters then the Sand Bucket Activity would be perfect! With this activity, you can practice uppercase/lowercase letters, letter identification, letter sounds, and practice writing letters in the sand!
When my first son Benjamin was in preschool I created so many hands-on ABC activities for him to practice saying, writing and learning his letters and the sounds they make. Whenever I would bring out a pencil and paper he would have absolutely no interest in doing anything, so I knew I needed to get creative and make things fun!
What you need to get started
The first thing you need to get started is a shallow container like the Sterilite Clip Box below. I personally recommend getting one with a snap lid for easy storage and so you don’t end up with sand on your floor! (we all know toddlers like to help carry things!)
The next thing you need is some play sand. I went with the blue sand pictured below because that was my son’s favorite color. (Note: I don’t recommend kinetic sand for this activity because it is harder to move and tends to get clumped up easily when trying to draw letters. )
Lastly, add a thin layer of sand on the bottom of the container. Just enough so you can see the bottom when you swipe your finger across. You could always add more or take some away after you get started to see what works best for your toddler.
Sand Sand Everywhere!
Before you get started I recommend setting some boundaries with your little one before you end up with colored sand all through your house or classroom. Here are some examples, but of course, use boundaries that will work with your little learner.
- All sand must stay in the bucket at all times. If sand is thrown/tossed than you lose your bucket.
- Only use your finger or paintbrush in the sand. Do not add items unless you are told to do so.
- When the bucket is being moved, the lid must be on and snapped before it is moved.
TIPS: Start each session with a 1 minute play period. All my son wanted to do was stick his hands in and explore the texture, so I let him! Its easier to let them get it out of their system first and then you can start with the activities.
To draw in the sand I had my son use his pointer finger or a paintbrush, but feel free to use any tool that gets the job done!
To erase what you have drawn in the sand I softly shake the bucket back and forth. I recommend practicing this with your student with the lid on so they don’t shake the sand right out of the bucket!
ABC and Phonics Activities
Below are activities you can do with your new Sand Bucket!
- Say & Draw. Say a letter out loud and ask the child to draw the letter. (you can indicate upper or lowercase)
- Use ABC letter/picture cards to have your child model the letter shown. Get your free set here.
- Say a sound and ask the child to draw the letter they hear. (you can indicate upper or lowercase)
- Use ABC picture cards and ask the student to tell you what the picture is of, say the first sound it makes and then draw the letter that makes the sound.
- Say a word and ask the student to write the beginning, middle or ending sound in the word. (Example: CAT C= Beginning A= Middle T=Ending)
- Write sight words for practice. Grab your free set of Sight Words Here.
- Practice writing their name. (Practice uppercase and lowercase)
You can even use your sand activity bucket to practice writing numbers or adding/subtracting. The possibilities are endless!
I hope you had fun creating your very own Activity Sand Bucket!
Let me know in the comments below what activities your student liked best or if you came up with some activities of your own! Would love to hear from you!