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Does your toddler love snails? Snail trail letter tracing is a fun way of incorporating their love of snails into a fun alphabet learning activity.
Snail Trail Letter Tracing
Letter tracing is a great way for toddlers to improve their hand-eye coordination and motor skills. It also helps develop their literacy skills as they learn to identify and trace letters. Tracing letters is a gentle introduction for children to understand how words are formed.
Playing to your child’s interest in snails, this is a great way of engaging your toddler in meaningful play. All you need are an old snail shell, pipe cleaner, and piece of sponge to make your own letter forming snail!
What is snail trail letter tracing
My Miss 4 loves snails. She has always been fascinated by them. Come winter, when the ground is still damp from the night before, she eagerly goes out into the crisp cold air in search for them.
The silvery trails across the brickwork are always a welcomed discovery for her. Following the shimmering lines, they will often lead her to our thick hedge, where the snails seem to spend their day.
Does your little one get excited by snails too?
Snail trail letter tracing is a fun way of incorporating a child’s love of snails into an alphabet learning activity. Playing to your child’s interest in snails, this is a great way of engaging your toddler in meaningful play. All you need are an old snail shell, pipe cleaner, and piece of sponge to make your own letter forming snail!
Why snail trail letter tracing is a good activity for toddlers
Snail trail letter tracing is a great way of introducing loads of learning opportunities to your toddler. The whole experience is a little left of centre which is exciting for them.
Snail trail letter tracing is a fun way of introducing handwriting and literacy concepts without actually passing them a pencil. This activity allows for the development of so many skills that can transfer over to handwriting when the time comes.
Not only will this letter tracing activity expose your child to different letters and their formation, but they will also dapple with a bit of science, cause and effect and experimental play.
How to make your own snail
This letter learning activity is so simple to set up and uses basic materials.
Materials required for the project
All you need for this activity are:
- old snail shell
- pipe cleaner
- piece of sponge
- goggly eyes
- hot glue gun
We used a snail shell that we found in our garden. That is after it was thoroughly cleaned! If you would prefer, shell pasta can be a great alternative to a real snail shell. Your toddler can even decorate the shell themselves!
The cardboard will be getting wet. Thicker cardboard does withstand the water more so than thinner cardboard. We used an old nappy box. It was the perfect thickness!
How to make your letter tracing snail
- Trim a piece of sponge that is twice the length of your snail shell.
- Using the hot glue gun, glue the shell to the back third of the sponge. There needs to be room in front of the shell for the pipe cleaner eyes.
- Cut a piece of pipe cleaner that is roughly 10cm. Fold the pipe cleaner in half before curling the ends to create a base for the eyes to be glue on.
- Glue the eyes onto each end of the pipe cleaner before gluing to the sponge.
- Your snail is now ready to trace letters!
How to set up your Snail trail letter tracing activity
Cut out the cardboard to create the letter tracing cards. Keep in mind the size of the snail. These cards are best made a bit larger rather than smaller. A5 size would be a good goal for your letter cards.
Write your focus letters onto your cards. For younger toddlers, why not start of with the letters of their name. This can be a gentle way on introducing some name recognition into their play.
For older toddlers, the most common letters found in words include e, t, a, I , n, o, s and i. These would be great letters to start off with.
- Dip the sponge in the water, making sure the sponge is wet enough to leave a snail trail behind.
- Trace over the letter with the snail sponge
The damp sponge will leave a wet mark on the cardboard, just like a real snail!
Invite your child to follow the snail trail with their finger as they trace over the letter shape.
If you would like to make this activity more challenging, try hiding the letter cards around the room for your child to find. Just like when they are trying to find real snails in the garden!
Why not complete the letters in alphabetical order?
Children need to learn letters independently rather than route learning them in alphabetical order. That is, that a ‘M’ is an ’em’ and makes a ‘mmmmm’ sound.
Not just a letter after ‘L’ and before ‘N’.
Our children need to learn that letter represent a sound.
Now, pulling back a bit. Just an FYI, learning letters is part of a kindergarten curriculum.
Exposing letters through play is a fun way of introducing letters, learning their names and the sounds that they make. This being said, if your child is not interested, that is okay.
Learning through play is more than ABCs and 123s. Play to your child’s interests and they will be picking up soft skills than will transfer beautifully to academics when they are developmentally ready.
Inspire a love for learning! Forcing a child to engage in an activity they are not interested in, will only set up negative connotations.
Tips and tricks for letter tracing with a child
Snail trail tracing is a great way of introducing so many concepts!
Instead of letters, why not try
- Pre-Writing Patterns
- Your child’s own drawings!
Benefits of letter tracing
There are many reasons why snail trail letter tracing is an important activity for toddlers. Letter tracing is a great way for toddlers to improve their hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
Tracing letters requires a high level of hand-eye coordination. This skill is developed through practice and repetition.
Fine motor skills
The small muscles in the hands and fingers are used when tracing letters. Navigating the snail along the line requires precision and control which will develop incrementally. This helps to improve the fine motor skills of your child.
Gross motor skills
Tracing letters also helps to improve a child’s gross motor skills. Further develop the coordination of the larger muscle groups in your child’s arms by blu-tacking their letter cards onto a vertical surface. This encourages larger movements and will in turn, further develop those muscles.
Watching their own handwriting develop is a great confidence booster for children. Even if not perfect, commend your child on their efforts and giving the task a go. If they mention the task being hard, simply remind them that they can do hard things. This being said, it is okay to step away for a break before trying again when they are feeling up to it.
Developing a growth mindset can provide your child with so much value and they are never too young to start!
Tracing letters helps children to learn the alphabet and recognise letters.
Being able to recognise, link sounds and trace letters accurately sets a strong foundation for future reading success.
Crossing the midline
Reaching from one side of the body to the other is a skill that needs practice to develop. Clever positioning of the water bowl can open an opportunity to develop this important life skill.
Snail trail letter tracing is a fun way for toddlers to learn about letters, their sounds and how to write them! Not only will this activity help with your child’s development, but it is also a great way to spend some quality time together.
Accepting that your child may be interested in snail trail letter tracing or not is the first step to having fun with them. If they are not, simply try again later.
Snail trail letter tracing is a great way for toddlers to improve their hand-eye coordination and motor skills.
Watching their own handwriting develop is a great confidence booster for children.
Being able to trace letters accurately sets up strong foundation for future reading success. Snail trailing is an activity that you too, can have fun with your toddler.
This easy DIY is a great way for toddlers to learn about letters, letter sounds and how to form letters correctly.
This is such a great activity for you and your toddler!