Inside: This construction alphabet sensory bin is a fun way for preschoolers to practice letter recognition while engaging in a playful activity.
A construction activity filled with bulldozers, dirt, and digging is sure to grasp your little one’s attention! If you’re looking for an enjoyable activity for letter recognition practice, what’s better than a sensory bin? This activity is perfect for children of any age.
(In fact, even my big kids enjoy getting their hands into kinetic sand. They just don’t need the alphabet practice anymore.)
Sensory bins are always a huge hit because they allow children to get creative and engage in their own deep exploration of the materials. Kids can make their own discoveries and enjoy a dramatic play experience with construction resources.
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Setting this activity up will take a little prep, but it’s not too complicated! Here’s everything you’ll need to get it ready:
- A flat big container or tub
- Toy bulldozers
- Other small construction toys (optional)
- Printable mat (see the end of this post to get a copy)
- Letter cutouts – you can cut out the letters that are included in the printable, or you can just cut freehand from brown paper and then write letters on each one.
Everything you see in the photos below I either printed out, cut from scrap paper, or got from this perfect little construction kinetic sand kit I bought from Amazon:
- Create the sensory bin by adding sand, diggers, and any other small construction manipulatives you may have.
- Laminate the printables to get more durability and extended use out of them. Alternatively, you should at least print the letter pages on cardstock.
- Cut out each of the dirt letters (both lowercase and uppercase).
- Place some or all the letters in the sensory bin (depending on what your teaching focus is).
There are quite a few steps involved in the activity, so it might help to model the steps for children before they start to explore on their own.
Children will take out letters using the diggers, their hands, or a small spade. Encourage them to identify the letters and place them on the “Let’s Bulldoze letters” mat.
I made two different printables for you to use. One is for your younger children in which they simply have to match the letters.
The other is a blank page for more confident children who are already able to name the letters.
There are many ways to use the cards in the sensory bin. Don’t be scared to re-use the sensory bin again in different ways depending on your teaching focus. For example, if you’re concentrating on uppercase and lowercase recognition, you can also ask children to find the matching pair.
You can also place all the letters of children’s names into the container and ask children to scoop out the letters of their names for name letter recognition.
More About Sensory Bins
Sensory bins can be fun and calming for children. They even work well as an engaging rainy day learning experience.
Plus, digging through and feeling the sand also helps build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
This is also a wonderful activity for language development. Children can engage in imaginative play as they hunt for the letters. Encourage them to talk with you or a friend about what they’re pretending.
In the classroom, a sensory bin can also support and build children’s social skills, such as turn-taking, cooperation, and communication.
Extend the activity
- Place 5-10 pairs of letters for students to play a game of memory or any matching card games
- Children can practice writing the letter they pick out
- Older students can use the cards for spelling out words.
- Color each letter of the printable or use a dot marker for a better letter recognition
- Ask children to scoop out specific letters and observe which ones they are able to find and look for any letter they may be struggling with.
- You might also like to try out these engaging Construction Movement Cards from Royal Baloo to work on vocabulary and gross motor skills, as well as to get all that preschool energy out!
You might also like to extend this activity with a read aloud from my list of 25 construction themed books for pre-schoolers.
If you’re looking for more construction-themed materials, you can also take a look at my free ABC construction spinner activity or these construction alphabet letter mats available in my own little store or in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
I hope the children have fun with this one! Don’t be afraid if it gets a little messy.
Get the Free Printable
Ready for the free printable mats and letters for this activity?
To get your very own copy, you can sign up right here:
I’ll add you to my weekly-ish newsletter too – it’s full of ideas and more free printables. Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.