Why would we want to make a letter writing tray for our toddler or preschooler? A letter writing tray provides young children with the opportunity to write letters or draw pictures as gifts for friends and family and it introduces the child to the letter writing process including using names, possibly addresses and envelopes. It teaches children about written communication in a real, practical and meaningful way.
This may also be a good way to introduce thank you notes or even cards for celebrations. I recognise the wonderful fine motor skills used here too. My toddler loves this tray and he gets absorbed in making cards, adding the stickers and stamps and writing little (pre-writer) notes.
In our toddler letter writing tray we have:
- envelopes - ours are self-sealing, the child needs to remove the paper strip at the back to reveal the adhesive, the child can then press the envelope closed.
- pencils - or crayons, markers or other mark-making materials.
- name labels - we have used first names but later we could also add addresses. Our labels have double-sided tape on the back but we could pre-address the envelopes or add some glue (or a glue stick) for the child to stick the name label onto the envelope.
- cards and notepaper - ours are blank but later we could add lined paper for the child. I've also kept these small so it's easy for the child to get them into the envelopes. For a slightly older child we could add larger paper that the child can then fold to fit into the envelope.
- stamp - this isn't essential but it's fun for the child to use.
- stickers - not essential but are also fun and the child uses lots of fine motor skills putting the stickers on. The stickers could also be themed, think Christmas or for birthdays. I've used small stickers so they fit onto the tray but also for fine motor skill development. I've used stickers that are of interest to my child including transport, construction vehicles and dinosaurs.
The child selects a card and can add a drawing or stickers.
I'm sure Grandma is going to love this!
The child selects the correct name label and puts it onto the envelope. This is fantastic work for letter recognition.
Put the letter into the envelope! For a toddler, this is harder than it looks.
Seal the back of the envelope.
We can also add a stamp.
We can make as many letters as we want until we run out of cards or envelopes!
This is a wonderful example of how we can promote language development in the pre-writing stage. If you have a slightly older child this is an example of a letter writing tray we used at four years.