Alphabet Bags

Learning the sounds that letters make is an important step in learning to read. Play this game with children, using just grocery bags and things around the house!

Prep It

You have everything you need for this activity already lying around the house!

  • Grocery bags or any other kind of bag
  • Scrap paper (optional)
  • Marker
  • Household items that start with the same letter
  • Household items that start with different letters

Play It

On a bag, write one letter. (You could use a permanent marker or tape some scrap paper on the bag).

Find things around the house that begin with that letter, and let the fun begin!

Things around the house that start with the letter S:

spoon, sock, salt, soap, scissors, straw, and string.

Before you start, collect items that start with your chosen letter. (For example, the letter “S”.) Put them all in the bag, and tell the child: “Everything in this bag starts with the same sound and letter. They all start with the letter… (S). (S) makes a (ssss) sound. Let me hear you say (ssss)!”

Go through all the items and name each one together, exaggerating the first sound of the word — for example: “This is a sock! Ssss-sock!”

TIP: continue exaggerating the first letter sound for most or all of the activity.

Next, dump out all the items and ask the child to find ones to put back in the bag. After you’ve gone through all the items, name them together again, and ask the child, “What sound is at the beginning of all these words again? That’s right, (ssss)!”

Then introduce some new items, some that start with the same letter and some that do not. Tell the child: “We will be working together to decide if the new things should go into our (S) bag or not.” For each item, let the child name it, then say something like: “Should a hhhh-hot dog go into our ssss words bag?”
Have many items that start with two different letters available to sort into two different bags. As the child learns more sounds, you can add more items and bags!
Go on a scavenger hunt to fill the alphabet bags. Let children pick a sound they would like to hunt for, or tell them which one to hunt for.

If you have multiple children in your care, this would be a great opportunity for them to hunt for different letter sounds and share what they found with each other!
Instead of just sorting by a beginning letter sounds, children who have experience reading and writing can play this activity in many unique ways:

-End sounds (pen, spoon)
-Digraphs (words that have CH, SH, CK, or TH)
-Rhyming words (sock, rock)
-Vowel sounds (pot, sock)
-Spelling words (teachers often have spelling lists that follow a sound pattern- you can hunt for these patterns in the words of things around the home)

Proud Moments

Well-done spelling tests, math quizzes, and book reports adorn the refrigerators of proud family members and caretakers all over Flint. The kids in your care have many non-school achievements, and you can show pride in those as well!

Prep It

You just need a few materials to proudly celebrate children’s achievements:

  • Paper- the back of envelopes, junk mail, anything you can write on
  • Writing utensil- marker, pen, crayon

Play It

Sit down together and talk about things children have achieved lately that you’re proud of.

For example, “I’m really proud of you for being resilient and learning how to ride a bike even though it took a lot of practice,” or “I’m really proud of you for being responsible and choosing to do your homework before you play video games.”

Write these down on the paper, throw a big A+ or smiley face on them, and hang them up on the fridge!

Invite the kids to tell you what they’re proud of in themselves too. You might learn a lot about who they are when you’re not around.

Wouldn’t you love to hear, “I’m really proud of myself because I was nice to the bully in class, even though they’re not nice to me”? The PEP team sure would!

Enjoy these special moments together!

Sort Anything

Next time you put away laundry, kitchen utensils, or other things around the house, invite the children to learn about making groups while they help you! Children will get lots of practice observing, thinking about similarities and differences, and using descriptive vocabulary.

Prep It

All you need for this activity is a mess 😉 You could use dishes, laundry, toy boxes, Legos, or shoes- no need to buy anything!

Play It

Ask children to make groups of things without telling them how, so they can think about how they want to group them. Once a child creates a group, say “tell me about this group you made” so that they can explain their thinking.

To encourage children to make many different kinds of groups, you could suggest they sort items by color, size, shape, purpose, or person. You may find that these prompts are especially useful for toddlers.

Shape Hunting

Looking for shapes is a fun way to help young minds grow! Develop language skills and ideas about shape, space, and size all while playing this free and easy activity.

Prep It

You don’t need any special toys- everything your kids can get their hands on or point at is great for exploring shapes.

Play It


Talk with kids about the shapes around you anywhere you go. What shape is that jar, that cracker, or that cereal box? Is the back of that chair straight or curved? Is the plate flat? Is the milk container tall or short?

Once kids are comfortable with shape names, add colors and textures: Is that door a white rectangle? Is that cookie a bumpy circle?

Play shapes I-spy

How many circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles can you find?

Make shape jokes

Is that spoon a square? Nooooooo it isn’t! (Trust us, this is funny when you’re 2 years old!)

Prompt deep thinking

Use “what if” questions to help children think about why things are certain shapes. What if that wheel was a triangle? What if that cup was flat?