ABC’s of Summer Learning

ABCs of summer

Summer is a time to relax and have fun, but with a little thought, play can inspire learning! We created this ABCs of Summer list of summer alphabet activities years ago, but it is still a fun resource! Go through the activities week by week, or use switch to a new letter every few days. The best thing about this list of A-Z summer activities is that it’s very open-ended! Pick the ones that work for you!

ABCs of summer activities for kids

ABCs of Summer

This list of a-z summer activities was inspired when our kids were preschoolers. We wanted to pull together a list of fun alphabet themed play ideas that could be a Summer Bucket List of sorts.

With the end of summer looming and back-to-school fall schedules not so far off, we thought it would be fun to present an A to Z list of fun, creative, and educational play and learning activities. 

That’s where this summer alphabet comes into play!

There are so many reasons why messy, sensory play supports development and learning. Not only are kids learning the alphabet, they are developing skills in other areas, too:

  • Learning the letters of the alphabet
  • Fine motor skill development
  • Visual motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Sensory input for self-regulation
  • Handwriting or pre-writing skills
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Confidence
  • Body awareness
  • Connection with others
  • Attention and focus
  • Executive functioning skills

We wanted to pull together a list from around the web and share playful and fun activities to make the most of summer before those fall schedules start up again.  Now is the time to make a few memories.  

Kids learn through play so the best learning comes through playful activities.  Let’s wrap up the summer with a full alphabet of fun.   Here we have it…the ABCs of Summer Learning! 

ABCs of summer for kids

How to Do ABCs of Summer

 These ideas can be done all throughout the summer, but it’s very open-ended.

You can look through the list and pick and choose a few activities to extend out the dog days of summer. 

Motor Skills- Encourage movement. You can use our alphabet exercises to get started with ideas. Pick a letter, do the letter exercise, and then do an activity or two based on that letter. Then repeat in a few days with a different letter.

Sensory-Based- The alphabet summer ideas listed below are mainly sensory-based play, meaning that they involve texture exploration, messy play, and getting the hands and body involved in the play. This is designed to inspire learning! Consider making an alphabet sensory bottle to start off your summer ABC theme. Shake up the bottle, find a letter, and do the activities associated with that letter until you complete the whole alphabet. You could select a random letter or you could look for a specific letter. It’s up to you!

Incorporate Handwriting– For children in kindergarten and above, adding in writing practice is a good idea. Use these letter formation strategies for practicing each letter…also grounded in movement and sensory experiences to promote motor memory of letter formation. For children in preschool, addressing pre-writing skills over letter formation is recommended, based on development. Simply go through the abcs of summer based on the lines used in letters. Our recourse on letter formation covers recommended progression of letters based on development and lines. Older kids can even just write some of the words that start with that letter, for additional practice with copying words, writing on lines, and spacing.

Writing Trays- Speaking of writing practice, there is more than one way to practice forming letters or the lines that make up letters. Use one of our many writing trays for handwriting as an added way to incorporate motor and sensory movements to form individual letters or pre-writing skills associated with the letters. (lines, diagonals, shapes, line changes, etc.)

One final tip: Summer is meant to be a time to slow down on the schedules, lists, educational tips and pointers…and  a time for the kids to just have fun being kids.  So be sure to make this FUN and a way to connect through play.

With these tips in mind, let’s get started on the ABCs of Summer!

Summer Words that Start with A:

Summer Words that Start with B

Summer Words that Start with C

Summer Words that Start with D

Summer Words that Start with E

Summer Words that Start with F

Summer Words that Start with G

Summer Words that Start with H

Summer Words that Start with I

Summer Words that Start with J

Summer Words that Start with K

Summer Words that Start with L

Summer Words that Start with M

Summer Words that Start with N

Summer Words that Start with O

Summer Words that Start with P

Summer Words that Start with Q

  • Sort and Manipulate Quarters 
  • Play the Quiet Game
  • Make a fort with a Quilt
  •                                  

Summer Words that Start with R

Summer Words that Start with S

Summer Words that Start with T

Summer Words that Start with U

  • Plan an Under The Sea Party
  • Use an Umbrella in the rain or sun
  • Help Unload the dishwasher
  • Blow bubbles with a straw underwater

Summer Words that Start with V

Summer Words that Start with W

Summer Words that Start with X

Summer Words that Start with Y

  • Go for a walk and Look For Yellow
  • Name the months in the Year   
  • Play in the yard
  • Visit a yard sale

Summer Words that Start with Z

What are your favorite summer activities?

Clay Letters

clay alphabet

These clay letters are a fine motor activity we made years ago, but we still use them today in multisensory learning activities. In fact, the clay alphabet is such a great tool for sight word and spelling word manipulatives. This week, we used two of my top Occupational Therapy recommendations in a combined fine motor power activity…to make stamped letters for learning!

We used clay and alphabet stamps to make our own clay letters for hands-on learning, including practicing spelling words, sight words, letter identification, and letter order.  This was the perfect learning tool for my second grader, kindergartner, and preschooler!

Make clay letters with alphabet stamps and use them in spelling words, decodable reading, word building, letter identification, and alphabetical order activities for multi- age learning ideas and hands-on learning in this fine motor work learning and play idea for kids.
 
 

Clay Letters for multisensory learning


As an Occupational Therapist, I often times recommended using clay as a therapeutic tool.  It’s resistive and provides proprioceptive feedback while working on hand strength.  Combined with letter stamps, we were able to make our own movable and colorful letters.  

 

Pressing the alphabet stamps into the clay is a great fine motor exercise and one that strengthens the hands, promoting a functional pencil grasp, separation of the sides of the hand, and intrinsic hand strength.

Make clay letters with alphabet stamps and use them in spelling words, decodable reading, word building, letter identification, and alphabetical order activities for multi- age learning ideas and hands-on learning in this fine motor work learning and play idea for kids.
 

Fine Motor Work Activity

Make clay letters with alphabet stamps and use them in spelling words, decodable reading, word building, letter identification, and alphabetical order activities for multi- age learning ideas and hands-on learning in this fine motor work learning and play idea for kids.
 

How to Make Clay Letters

This post contains affiliate links.

You’ll need to start with alphabet stamps for pressing into the clay, and some colorful clay. You’ll want to get the type of clay that quick dries.

We used our Alphabet Stamp Set to press lower case letters into small, rolled balls of modeling clay. I love the bright colors of THIS brand.

To make he clay letters, kids are really strengthening the hands.

First, ask your child to first pull off small pieces of clay from the long rolls.  Roll the clay into small balls and gently press them into disks.  

Then, have your child find the letters of the alphabet in alphabetical order.  Using the Melissa and Doug Alphabet Stamp Set was a great way to further our fine motor work.  The size and shape of the letter stamps in this set are perfect for working on intrinsic muscle strength and tripod grasp.  

Pressing the stamps into the clay is a nice way to address precision.  

Press too hard, and the clay disk is too thin.  

Press to lightly, and the letter’s impression is not deep enough in the clay.  This precision of grasp requires proprioceptive awareness.

Make clay letters with alphabet stamps and use them in spelling words, decodable reading, word building, letter identification, and alphabetical order activities for multi- age learning ideas and hands-on learning in this fine motor work learning and play idea for kids.
 

The brand of clay that we used does not harden.  This makes a nice activity for kids, but if you want to keep your letters, use a modeling clay that does dry out.

Make clay letters with alphabet stamps and use them in spelling words, decodable reading, word building, letter identification, and alphabetical order activities for multi- age learning ideas and hands-on learning in this fine motor work learning and play idea for kids.
 

Learning Activities with Clay Letters

We used our clay letters in a bunch of different activities. Try some of these hands-on letter activities:

  • Practice spelling words.
  • Practice spelling sight words.
  • Arrange letters on the table.  Ask kids to visually scan for letters to find in alphabetical order.
  • Practice letter identification.
  • Copy the letters to work on letter formation.
  • Arrange the letters on a table.  Pull out a letter and ask your child to name a word that starts with that letter.  Ask them to write the words to practice handwriting.
  • Practice decodable reading and word building with the clay letters.
 
 




Make clay letters with alphabet stamps and use them in spelling words, decodable reading, word building, letter identification, and alphabetical order activities for multi- age learning ideas and hands-on learning in this fine motor work learning and play idea for kids.

More Letter Fine Motor Activities

You’ll love the fine motor activities in our Letters Fine Motor Kit. The printable kit is loaded with letter activities that build fine motor skills. You can grab it and all of the other themed fine motor kits below, to build skills through play.

Use these Fine Motor Kits for hands-on activity kits to develop fine motor skills, strength, dexterity, and manipulation. Kids LOVE these fine motor kits for the motivating activities. Therapists love them because it’s fresh, fun ways to work on pinch, grip, manipulation skills, and much more. Try some of these themed therapy kits:

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.

Glitter Letter Manipulatives for Learning

letter manipulatives
These DIY letter manipulatives were very easy to make.  The kids and I have been playing with these letters for a few weeks now.  We love playing with learning elements and we’ve done a lot of letter identification activities.  This one was fun to make and for playing!
 

Letter Manipulatives

Letter manipulatives are a hands-on tool for supporting letter identification in young kids. This is a great preschool activity that can be used as a pre-writing activity. Helping kids to identify letters with alphabet manipulatives supports early literacy skills. 

Alphabet manipulatives like the ones we made below are fun for helping kids to match uppercase and lower case letters, too. 

They can be used in handwriting tasks or as a writing prompt while working on letter formation

Use these letter manipulatives in several ways:

  • In sensory bins
  • In an I Spy game
  • With writing trays
  • In play dough
DIY letter match manipulatives with glass gems.  These are great for letter identification, matching, memory games, pre-reading.
 

 

 
This post contains affiliate links. 

 


How to Make Letter Manipulatives


This letter learning activity was a lot like our DIY color glass gems.  They are so much fun for sorting, patterning, play on the DIY light box.  We used a similar manner to make these glitter letters. These large glass gems are great for play and learning.  We’ve written letters and shapes on them, and painted them, created art with them.

If you haven’t made your own DIY decoupage, this is one thing you need to try.  We use this stuff all the time.

 

 

 
Paint the flat side of the glass gems with decoupage.  Cover with glitter.

 

 
Shake off the excess glitter.  Coat with another layer of decoupage.

 

 
Stick on letter stickers and cover with another thin coat of decoupage.
 
 
Let those beauties dry.

 

 
When the letters were dry, we played letter memory, sounded out the sounds of the letters, and matched the letters.  This is a great way to play and learn letter identification, letter sounds, pre-reading, visual scanning skills, and more.

 

 
We haven’t tried putting the letter manipulatives on the light table yet, but I think they will look great!
 

More Ways to Use letter manipulatives

 

 

Work on letter formation, letter identification and handwriting skills with our Fine Motor Letter Kit! Perfect for hands-on letter learning.

Colleen Beck, OTR/L is an occupational therapist with 20+ years experience, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh in 2000. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. As the creator, author, and owner of the website and its social media channels, Colleen strives to empower those serving kids of all levels and needs. Want to collaborate? Send an email to contact@theottoolbox.com.