ABC Mat: Entertainment on a Winter Day

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What to do on those cold winter day?  Too cold to go outside or really to even go anywhere (especially with all the sickness going around).  But the kids need to run off some energy.  And you don’t really want them running through the house or bouncing off the walls.

This ABC mat, rather unexpectedly, has provided HOURS of entertainment to my kids (and the neighbor kids) during this cold, dreary week.

After our morning time, I asked my big girls to set up the ABC mat so I could do letter practice for my pre-schoolers.

Unexpectedly, (I mean I certainly didn’t plan this), my older kids loved turning this into a game board of sorts and even had me jumping around with them.

We have left it out most of the week and it has served as entertainment (and a distraction).  But it has served several purposes:

  • getting out energy (jumping, dancing, flips, etc)
  • spelling practice and letter recognition
  • activity to cure boredom and made for more peaceful time with a house full of kids
  • creativity

So, what is so entertaining? What were the games we played?

ABC Jump (Timed Competition)

The way we laid the board out was mostly random, but we had put the vowels toward the middle (so that when you spell words, you aren’t having to jump across the whole board).  We had also arranged that our little boys’ names could be easily spelled (JT and Peter).

We took turns jumping the alphabet in order.  If you stepped on a letter out of order, it added seconds to your time.  I think the way we had originally set up the board was quite a workout – especially if you are trying to go fast.

We did this board over and over to the point that we memorized where all the letters were.  So, every morning when the girls put the board out again, they put it into this same configuration.

We were getting faster and faster (that competitive drive) with each time and getting out some energy in the process.  It made us all feel a bit less stir crazy.

So, when the neighbors came over that afternoon, the girls were quick to show off their skills and challenge them to another round.  Then, they turned it into the next game on the list.

Twister

The kids took turns calling out letters and hands and feet and playing a whole round of creative twister.

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Letter Practice

For my younger kids, they jump (and flip) on the board and practice their letters.  They practice spelling their names and practice finding their letters.

When we go to playgroup, we arrange the letters into a long line in ABC order and the kids all march on them.  We also take some of the letters out and give them to different kids. They all have to find where the letters go and put them back into the puzzle.

Spelling Practice

I used to have my kid that always needs to move to focus spell out her weekly words by jumping (or sometimes even cartwheeling) across the board.

This week, the girls made up dances to spell out people’s names.  We also tried playing a form of Boggle – where you come up with as many words as you can using only connecting letters.

Soft Mat

It also also served as just a mat for jumping and flipping and playing on.  I think it has been more fun because of the novelty – we hadn’t pulled these letters out in awhile so the newness made it interesting.

Rearranging

We tried rearranging the board and jumping ABC in order or playing Boggle, but our original layout has been the favorite.  It’s a nice alternative to jumping on the trampoline on these winter days.

Leave it out or not?

Well, it will probably be out until we have a nice sunny day (which could be tomorrow or could be weeks, you never know).  But it has been a distraction – “kids, go work on your schoolwork.” And on the way, they can’t resist trying to see how fast they can do the alphabet.  And this will go on for an hour if I let it.

But I will take the nice distraction for this week.

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