This week, we were gifted with a large collection of petri dishes, so I've been looking for creative ways of using them. This morning, we discovered that they make excellent "rotating floors" in an alphabetical order car show!
For my transportation-loving kids, this was an awesome project!
The ABC element helped improve my (almost 4-year old) daughter's letter recognition, and my 5-year-old son loved that we looked up and used the proper Make and Model names for each Matchbox vehicle.
26 petri dishes
Set of uppercase alphabet letters
Assortment of diecast cars
We used letter tiles for this project, but flash cards or hand drawn letters on a long strip of paper would work just as well.
First, the children lined up the 26 petri dishes like a showroom floor.
Next, I told them that we'd be working with UPPERCASE letters today, and handed out their letters one at a time. The children ran to a petri dish, put their letter inside, and replaced the lid.
Time-saver tip: DON'T hunt through your letter tiles or flashcards for a complete uppercase or lowercase alphabet while the program is in swing. The children may become impatient and lose interest. BETTER: sort out your 26 letter tiles while the kids set up their showroom floor (in our case, the petri dishes), and be ready to hand out the letters when they're done.
Last, the children took turns picking diecast cars out of their basket, while I read the Make and Model, which is written on the underside of most vehicles. We said the name of each vehicle together, and sounded out the first letter. Then the children had to hunt for the petri dish that contained their special letter, and place the car on top, on "display".
Volkswagon Beetle ..................... V or B
Chevy Impala ............................. C or I
1966 Dodge Pickup ................... D or P
As most of the letters became taken, we took more liberties with our vehicle names, and sometimes used more general terms, like Ice Cream Truck (I), Tractor (T), Convertible (C), or even Goodyear (G).
In the end, we filled up most of our display floors, except for K, Q, X, Y, and Z.
This program took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and was improved by cooperation between the children. My daughter can say her alphabet, but has difficulty identifying letters out of order, so her brother kindly helped her find the letters she was searching for. And using vechicles to mask our ABC practice kept them focused on a lesson they otherwise would not have tolerated.