Teaching the alphabet can be tricky for kids with disabilities especially those who are limited verbally and have a great difficulty with fine motor skills. Then we have to get more creative to give those children the opportunity to learn along with their peers.
I created Alphabet Activities Bundle to give ample opportunities to practice each letter by matching, using sounds, handwriting practice, puzzles, and games. There’s a lot of fine motor practice with cutting, pasting, writing, tracing, coloring, grabbing and moving pieces and using stickers or dot markers.
I would like to go through Letter A activities which you can download for free by clicking the link.
Students love dot markers and they’re great for visual learners.
This is a great activity to begin learning how each letter looks and also how to write it. For kids who struggle a great deal with fine motor skills, I will have them use dot markers or stamps. Kids with more developed fine motor skills can fill the circles by dipping a q-tip in paint, using mini-stamps, or different types of stickers. A tactile version would be where children put a glue dot (or puffy paint) in each circle and after it’s dried, the children trace their fingers over the letter. [note: good lesson to teach children how to squeeze out just a dot and not the whole bottle] I have also had children use small counters for repeated practices.
There are lots of other pages in each letter pack for handwriting practice. Some students I use highlighters for a prompt so that I don’t have to hand-over-hand. In the picture above I show some versions of prompting from the most support (A solid letter to trace) to the least amount of prompting (a dot to remind the child where the start).
The pencil I used for the pictures is cut down on purpose. This is a nice trick from an OT where it helps the child put their fingers on the write part of the pencil. I’ve used even shorter ones for kids who really, really want to hold their pencil with their fist. When the pencil is a nub, the child has no choice but to use their finger tips.
Phonics can be tricky for kids with disabilities especially autism who tend to be whole readers. This is a fun way to introduce some words that begin a particular letter. I will practice what the letter sounds like with the children. For those that need more assistance in determining if the words begin with the correct letter sound, I will go through each word. For the letters that don’t start with the correct letter sound, the child will draw an X through it. Sometimes with my nonverbal kids, I am talking out the thought process by myself. For example: Point at pencil. “Pencil. p-p-pencil. Does that start with an A?” Make short a sounds. “No!” Draw an X through the pencil.
Each package has 2 pages of handwritin with pictures to accompany each word. After the kids have traced each word, I like to have kids cut apart their pictures and match each word to the correct picture.
The letter puzzles can be given in different difficulty levels. Level 1 would be having 2 copies of the puzzle. Student cuts one copy apart and then glues pieces on top of the other puzzle so it’s matching each piece. Level 2 is as show in the picture above where students put together the puzzle but they have a model of the original to look at for reference. Level 3 is where the child simply puts the puzzle together without any visual prompts.
There are an additional 10 pictures in each letter pack with accompanying words which can be used to play matching & memory games in a variety of ways as shown above. These items can be sent home for additional practice with parents.
Each packet has a fun picture version for the task of separating letters and a coloring puzzle which gets more difficult going through the alphabet. This also gives kids more fine motor skills practice with cutting, gluing, and coloring in the lines.