“The Alphabet Game” – DIY Twister Revamp for Toddler Alphabet Recognition Game!

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A while back Penelope was really getting into learning her letters. I went scouring Pinterest for fun alphabet activities, but had trouble finding suggestions focused on basic letter recognition, as opposed to spelling or sound recognition, that weren’t advanced fine motor activities. I did try some great free printables that had the traceable letter as well as things beginning with that letter. But even just as a coloring page she lost interest quickly. I needed something both physical and focused strictly on remembering which letters were which. Then “The Alphabet Game” was born.

First, go in your hall closet where you’ve collected all of your games over the years and pull out that old and most likely busted Twister box. If by some miracle you’re still pulling it out when your friends come over for dinner don’t worry, you can still play the original game even with the alphabet conversion.

Now here’s where you can get as crafty as you like. You need to put a letter of the alphabet on each circle. The game as it stands is two circles shy of having a space for all of the letters. I used a piece of red and green stick on vinyl to cut an extra red and green circle that I squeezed on to the mat at the edges; you could also draw a circle, or have two letters share a circle. I also used the vinyl to make my letters because I happen to have a craft cutter at home, but if I hadn’t I probably would have bought a pack of stick on poster letters from any craft store or even Walgreens. You can even just straight up use a Sharpee!

I chose to put the letters on the mat in alphabetical order going vertically, so that it wasn’t quite so obvious but we still had the option to hop along while we sang if we wanted to (which we have). Then I put small versions of the letters on the spinner, trying to be sure they were mixed up but still on corresponding colors. There have been times when she was looking for one she couldn’t remember quite as well and I could tell her what color circle to look for to narrow her scope. Here too I used vinyl stick on letter cutouts, but when the corners peel up they can catch the spinner making you repeatedly get “M” (“for you, mommy!” – could be worse), so if I were to do it again I would consider just using a marker for this part.

The original letter recognition version was simple, spin and find the corresponding letter. Over time I would let her see the letter on the board less often, and now hardly ever let her look. I also sit there naming anything I can think of that starts with that letter while she hunted, or singing Teacher Mariella’s “every letter makes a sound the ‘M’ makes an ‘mmm'” song. When found Penny jumps on the letter, often inclusive of an exclamation… “M!”

The awesome thing that I hadn’t thought about when I created the game was all the ways we can adapt it to fit the way she is learning. One of the awesome but more advanced Pinterest activities I found originally was to have a scavenger hunt where you find something that starts with every letter. We’ve been able to do a modified version of that with this mat, putting items that begin with each letter on each circle. I will pick a letter that isn’t covered and find something in site in her room that begins with it and then say “what about monkey? Mmm, mmm, monkey. What letter do you think monkey starts with?”

I think this will be a classic in our house for a while as we think of even more ways to modify the game. Maybe it can even become a more Twister like version when we eventually get into spelling (spell “cat”… left hand on… “C”…). However your kid engages with the alphabet, or any curriculum for that matter, I hope this inspires you to think creatively about how to support those lessons in ways that speak to your child’s strengths and interests.

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