Hands on the Alphabet

Hands on the Alphabet

Recently I have been sharing in our Tot School posts about our ABC Baskets, and bins.

Animal ABC Letter V Letter T Bin

We use baskets and bins, and in the past with Krash I have used an even simpler method, as you can see below with the items just on a tray {photo from this post}…

Tot School Letter P

I have had a few readers ask me to share specifically a list of toys/items that would be good for these baskets.  During this phase of our homeschool life, I am sorting a few of our toys out by letter, rather than keeping the set together.  First I will share the exact items we own, which I have separated out by letter into gallon size Ziplock baggies, for easy prep when setting up for the new school week.

Letter Collection

I will be continuing with the alphabet baskets/bins through Animal ABCs with Ladybug, and then through Raising Rock Stars Preschool {we will begin shortly after completing Animal ABCs}.

We own the following, click to see where to purchase…

Alpha Tales Set  Abc  Alphabet Soup CansMatch It ABC  Shure Fishing ABC  abc pegsLadybug Alphabet Puzzle  Alphabet Counstruction Set  How to Build an ALeapfrog abc  abc flashcards  Little Zoo  Alphabet Mats


We do not own the following, but if you are looking to purchase a few things, these look great!

ABC Bean Bags  alex abc  ABC Puzzles  ABC Puzzle Cards  abc memory  Lace abcs  Alphabet Puzzles  Puzzle Boards ABCAbc wooden set  alex abc puzzles  abc pegboards lowercase  ABC Pegboards  Wooden ABC puzzles  Alpha Pops

Before you purchase things, be sure to think about what you already have!  ABC flashcard sets, magnetic letters, foam alphabet puzzles, and small items that begin with certain letters. Another note-not all kids will be into this. Krash could have cared less about my alphabet collections, Ladybug absolutely LOVES them. 

A few FAQ…

Why are letter collections a good idea?

It is a fun way to expose not only letter identification, but also the sounds a letter makes. It keep the phonics learning fun and playful, but at the same time creates a hands on connection to many items that begin with that letter. Young children learn well by touching, hearing, seeing, and engaging as fully as possible with something. These collections give your child the chance to do all of those, especially when you interact with the items alongside of your child {emphasizing the sounds and letter}.


What in the world do I DO once I have it all set up?

Sit on the floor and PLAY with the contents, with your child.  Child not interested?  Play quietly {put puzzles together, say names of objects, etc.} and see if your child may become interested.  Try an active game of hide the objects!  Even the most reluctant child usually enjoys a good game of hide and seek!  Hide the objects around the room and as your child finds them, have him/her yell out the letter/name!  There are no rules, even if your child just sits and “plays” with the stuff, s/he is learning!


What if I only have a few items for a collection?

That’s fine!  We just have a lot due to me being a former teacher, homeschooling for 6 years, and grandparents who are generous in purchasing school related toys for us.  Even if you don’t have a lot, and can’t afford to buy more {or don’t want to}, that’s fine!  You can print images, draw images, and maybe even make index cards with fancy letters drawn on them in fun colors.  Think creatively and you’ll find that purchasing more stuff isn’t even necessary!

More Letter Collection Ideas…

I have more ABC ideas here on my Pinterest board

ABC Pinterest Board

You will find letter bins from Spell Outloud, Nuturing Naters, and Playing House. Get even more ideas for small objects beginning with each letter on this series of posts from Counting Coconuts. I was inspired by those posts to create our own ABC box, you can see ours in action here.

Alphabet Box

No matter how large or small, how uniquely creative or simple ~ learning letters and sounds can be playful and fun!  Do you have a fun way you play with letters featured on your blog?  Feel free to leave a link to a post of yours in the comments!  Do you make letter bins, letter baskets, letter boxes, or anything similar?  I’d love to see your versions!

Doc McStuffins Sensory & Imagination Bin

In honor of our Doc McStuffins week for Tot School, I made Ladybug a Doc McStuffins Sensory and Imagination Bin! 

Doc McStuffins Sensory bin

Ladybug is a big Doc fan and she loves having theme weeks at school, so I knew this surprise would be a win-win!  I was right, she was overjoyed to walk into the schoolroom to find Doc McStuffins week!  I set up all of our doctor and vet play stuff too, the little things in the bin itself, and the bigger things in her basket.

Doc McStuffins Theme-1657

I printed out some characters using clipart online here, I laminated them, and attached small magnets to the back and displayed them on her cookie sheet!Doc McStuffins Theme-1647

Included in the bin itself:

The idea behind the pom poms was for them to be “medicine” in the little clear cups, she caught right on and prepared everyone’s meds! I also chose something soft since Doc works on stuffed animals.Doc McStuffins Theme-1659

She immediately went to work, immersing herself in the role of Doc!Doc McStuffins Theme-1661

Krash loved it too and went upstairs to retrieve our huge box of Webkinz so they could be patients!  These two, and the 10 year old too, have played for hours and hours with this!Doc McStuffins Theme-1674

Stay tuned for our Tot School post coming up, where I will share more of what we are doing this week, for Doc McStuffins theme week!

More Doc McStuffins Fun…

Doc McStuffins Tot Pack Button

If you haven’t read the Montessori Minute post about sensory play, be sure to read that to see why these bins are so wonderful for kids!  See a Behind the Scenes look at Sensory Bin play with videos here!

Use this button to jump to all of my Sensory Bin posts anytimeimage_thumb1

Angry Birds Sensory & Imagination Bin

Krash thinks in terms of sensory bins when it comes to our themes.  He asked for an Angry Birds sensory bin, which really just combined all of our Angry Birds toys together for creative play!


We dumped the pieces from our Angry Birds game in the bin, and our stuffed friends were close by too!

I added ping pong balls, to represent the eggs from the game, and also red jewels at K’s request!  IMG_0487

If you don’t own any Angry Birds toys {we do thanks to Christmas and grandparents!}, you can make some!  We printed these and the kids LOVED them!IMG_0490

My kids LOVED this bin and they all played in it somehow every single day!

IMG_0186  IMG_0190

We even added cups to knock down!IMG_0315

More Angry Birds Fun…

If you haven’t read the Montessori Minute post about sensory play, be sure to read that to see why these bins are so wonderful for kids!  See a Behind the Scenes look at Sensory Bin play with videos here!

Use this button to jump to all of my Sensory Bin posts anytimeimage_thumb1

Christmas Sensory Bin

Our Christmas Sensory Bin was a huge hit last year and this year it will be almost exactly the same. 

It starts with a base of simple red and green items mostly.  Each day I add in one small feature.  Day 1 was bells, day 2 was mini trees, day 3 was mini lights.  I have tons of tiny items {almost all from Michaels or AC Moore} and will add in items daily until Christmas.  They love the suspense and seeing something new each day.



One of the games we have enjoyed this year is a listening game.  We choose a few items… IMG_7791and then put one in the can for someone to shake and guess which item it is.IMG_7790


Another game is to put 1-5 items in a stocking and feel to figure out what is inside, finding matching objects in the bin.  Pac likes this one.IMG_7797


Ladybug and Krash love to go on an item hunt, finding all of the same thing.  IMG_7840

This time they were on a hunt for the mini lights.



Just a few days in and the bin has received a lot of attention.  It is a simple and fun way to bring in so many learning skills and so much imaginative play.  Totally Tots shared another great idea for a Christmas Sensory bin also, be sure to check it out!

If you haven’t read the Montessori Minute post about sensory play, be sure to read that to see why these bins are so wonderful for kids!  See aBehind the Scenes look at Sensory Bin play with videos here!

Use this button to jump to all of my Sensory Bin posts anytimeimage

Did you miss the rest of my 12 Days of Christmas posts?  Here they are for easy access…

  1. Advent Adventures in Homeschool
  2. Christmas Around the World Calendar Connections
  3. Nativity Printable Pack
  4. 12 Days of Christmas Printables
  5. Busy Hands Play Dough Box and Christmas Play Dough
  6. Truth in the Tinsel
  7. The Birth of Jesus Study & Giveaway
  8. Christmas Book Printables
  9. Christmas Gifts For Jesus
  10. Christmas Fun Notebooks
  11. Christmas Theme Printables and More


I have enjoyed participating in a 12 Days of Christmas blogging series along with 7 other bloggers, see more 12 Days of Christmas posts using the links below…

Monster Fun Sensory & Imagination Bin

In honor of our Monster theme, I made the them a Monster Sensory Bin

I decided to go for a create-a-monster approach to encourage their imagination while they play.

I gathered anything I thought would help them create cute monsters like this one…IMG_5124
I put a basket of Monster books next to the bin too…IMG_5108
Krash walked into the schoolroom and immediately said, “oh man, where’s the fall bin, I like that on better.”  Yup, he’s our Mr. Negative.  I “ignored” him and began playing with Ladybug creating monsters, soon he was involved and said, “oh man, this is awesome, thanks mom!”  Silly boy.
Ladybug went right at it and had a blast creating monsters…

IMG_5123 IMG_5135
The ping pong balls were “cheeks” according to her!
IMG_5171 IMG_5174 

Krash was way more interested in the little white tubes {I wish I knew where these were from-someone gave us a big ol’ bag of them a long time ago}.  He used them to make patterns…IMG_5127
He remembered an old Minute to Win It game and got a craft stick and began to challenge himself!IMG_5131
He made numerous towers, with and without PacMan…

IMG_5139 IMG_5164 IMG_5167  IMG_5177 IMG_5181

Even PacMan got in on the creating fun…IMG_5143 
After playing for awhile, I took a quick video of the kids to share with you.  As you will see, they were all engaged with the bin in different ways.  They had been playing for at least 15-20 minutes prior to the video and then continued to play way beyond the video.

Be sure to visit my Monster Pinboard on Pinterest for more monster fun ideas!

If you haven’t read the Montessori Minute post about sensory play, be sure to read that to see why these bins are so wonderful for kids!
Use this button to jump to all of my Sensory Bin posts anytime. Sensory-Bins6222[4]