Learning the alphabet is a blast with these crafts, activities, and toys.
Everything in this slideshow
Not since Etch A Sketch has "writing" been so much fun. Preschoolers will be entertained as they learn the shapes of their first letters by pulling metal beads up with a magnetic stylus. Arrows indicate the mechanics of how to draw the lines and curves that make up each letter, and holding the stylus provides practice with a writing instrument. A to Z Magnatab, $28
Bake Their Name
Most kids learn to spell -- and read -- their own name before any other word. Encourage this early literacy competency with an alphabet-shaped treat. Cut, bake, and cool a batch of sugar cookies using letter cutters. Leave the decoration (and the cookie gobbling) to your child. Large alphabet cutter set, $42; globalsugarart.com
Spin a Good Yarn
Craft these colorful letters with your child. Cut characters from foam core or buy premade ones from a craft store. Snip pieces of yarn approximately 3 feet long. Tape the end of the yarn to the back of the letter; then wrap evenly around. Connect pieces of yarn with small knots. Fill in hard-to-cover spots with small pieces of yarn (secure with glue, if necessary). If you like, finish by wrapping a zigzag pattern on top.
Surf the ABCs
LetterPlayground.com offers a collection of artistic letters that will delight letter lovers of all ages. When you sign up (it's free), you and your child can browse hundreds of letters made by artists, graphic designers, and regular people. You can "like" your favorites and even post and share your family's own creations.
Stick 'Em Up
Take advantage of kids' fascination with stickers by sneaking in a learning opportunity. Alphabet stickers come in zillions of colors and sizes (find them in the scrapbook aisle at craft stores). Corral the collection in a box that your kids can decorate with -- what else? -- letter stickers! Stickers, $2 and up; mrsgrossmans.com and melissaanddoug.com
Eat Your Words
You can use these flexible silicone trays to create edible Jell-O letters. Just coat the molds with cooking spray; then prepare the mix using a 6-ounce package of Jell-O and 1 1/4 cups of hot water. Let chill in the fridge until solid. Alphabet Letter Trays, $15 for a set of three; sillycone.myshopify.com
Piece It Together
This wooden puzzle gives children ages 3 and older exposure to the alphabet as well as to the names of 26 animals -- from alligator to zebra. One side features uppercase letters and the other, lowercase. Animal Parade Puzzle, $40; momastore.org
Decorate From A to Z
Room décor gets smart with alphabet posters. Whether your style leans toward the traditional or you have a more contemporary flair, there's sure to be a design to fit your tastes. (Try etsy.com and allposters.com for hundreds of other options.) Seaside ABC, $34; likeabird.net
Snack 'n' Play
Blogger Amy Bell, of PositivelySplendid.com, pairs Bingo with Scrabble Junior Cheez-Its (cheez-it.com). Place a cracker on each game-board square (download a board below), leaving the center open. Pose a letter-related query, such as, "What letter does cat start with?" Then eat the corresponding cracker. Five in a row makes Bingo!
Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Parents magazine.