What you need:

  • 26 paper safety cones (copy the reproducible pattern on page 253, preferably with card stock)
  • One of each letter of the alphabet (made of foam, paper, plastic, wood, or other material, sized to fit easily under the safety cones)
  • Masking tape (optional)
  • Timer (optional)
  • Whiteboard and dry-erase marker, or butcher paper and felt-tip marker (optional)

What you do:

  • Set the safety cones around your program space. Place one letter under each cone (between the cone and the orange paper square).
  • Challenge children to find the letter a. All children will walk around the program space, lifting up cone after cone, until someone finds the letter a.
    Place the letter on display, possibly on a table or taped to a wall.
  • Ask the group for examples of words that begin with the letter a. If you like, write these on a whiteboard or a large piece of butcher paper.
    Repeat steps 2 and 3 with the remaining letters of the alphabet.

Adaptive Variations:

To make the activity inclusive for visually impaired children, consider removing the cone from the equation all together. Instead of hiding the letters under a cone, try hiding them in a bag, or a rice filled container. Then have the children “feel” for specific letters of the alphabet.

Optional variations:

  • Time participants as they work together to find all of the letters of the alphabet. After the entire alphabet has been found, hide the letters again and challenge the group to beat their time finding the alphabet a second time.
  • To add a little silliness, include a few non-letter items under some of the cones (this means you’ll need more than 26 cones).
  • Try hiding a toy construction vehicle or a small stuffed animal.
  • Rather than finding the letters of the alphabet in order, challenge your group to spell something, like the name of your town or library. Be sure that you have duplicates of any letters that repeat in the word or phrase you’ll be using.

What makes it great?

What you need:

What really makes this section stand out is the use of everyday objects. This sample clearly describes what is needed, and provides ideas for easy substitutions.

This example references a reproducible pattern. If your activity requires a pattern, please do your best to describe it. Or better yet, send us a quick sketch. We promise not to judge your drawing ability!

Labeling some supplies as “optional” is a big help.

What you do:

Clear, descriptive, directions are key. The reader should be able to visualize your programing idea in their head. Adjectives are not your friends! Be as direct as possible.

Optional variations:

Once you have the basics of the idea described, let your imagination run wild! Did an idea occur to you while running your activity? This is the section to add it.

Providing options, and other additional variations will help inspire those reading your idea.

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