Playful Learning: Letter Formation

Welcome back for another Hands On Play Party. This week I thought it would be fun to share one of our quick and playful learning activities from our homeschooling day. My boys are both past the “letter learning” phase, but that does not mean that they understand letter formation. In fact, both boys struggle with their fine motor skills and their handwriting. I needed a hands-on way to study letter formation and what better way than to use fun straws and pipe cleaners.

Letter formation with Straws and Pipe Cleaners

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When I was in the classroom I had these handy letter formation kits that I just loved. They were perfect for helping kids build letters, sort them, and compare the letter atrributes. Unfortunately, now I am home and I don’t have access to all the cool materials I had collected over course of 12 years I was in the classroom.

So I made our own and you can, too!

Letter Formation Set up

What You Need: 

Making Curved Lines Alphabet

Before You Begin with Your Letter Formation

Cut your straws and pipe cleaners into smaller pieces. We made some long and some short pieces to make the different parts of each letter.

We collected the straights (straws) and curves (pipe cleaners) in wooden dishes to create an inviting and organized environment for learning and play.

You can do this step ahead of time to save time, but I let Bones (6) do the cutting to give him even more fine motor practice.

Finally, we curled each pipe cleaner to resemble the curved aspect of some letters.

Now You’re Ready for Some Playful Learning

Making the Alphabet

Using the straws as straight lines and the pipe cleaners as curves, Bones set to work to build his alphabet. He had so much fun creating and even asked if we would be able to hang up the work when we were done. (we did not do that this time, but we just might next time around!)

Creating the alphabet is not just fun and playful, it enables children to organize what they know about letters and words into categories (a filing system, if you will). Using two different colors provides a very distinct visual for the children to SEE the different shapes and attributes that make up a letter.

The more letters Bones made, the more connection he made…

Hey! The F is like E.

Wait, The V is just the inside of the M.

Oh, if I can make B, I can make P.

Instant confidence booster!

Letter Formation Activity

Once Bones finished with making all of his letters he used a sorting mat to move the letters into categories based on their attributes (straight lines, curved lines, and both).

Lastly, he wrote down all of the letters he made and stepped back and was so proud at what he had done.

And you know what? So was I! His handwriting had improved tremendously!

Be sure to download your free Letter Sorting Mat by clicking on the picture below!

Letter Formation Sorting Mat

Now it’s time for the Hands On Play party!

Visit Our Co-Hosts

Art Inspired by The Carrot Seed from Stir the Wonder

Loose Parts and Mirror Play from P is for Preschooler

Homemade Coffee Scented Play Dough from Little Bins for Little Hands




Follow Lemon Lime Adventures’s board Learning: FIne Motor/ Handwriting on Pinterest.

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Its your turn to show us your Hands-on Play ideas.

Do you have a favorite Hands On Play Idea? How do you encourage hands on learning? I can’t wait to see!


Discover how to get siblings to get along even when all they do is annoy each other with the Sibling “Get Along” Poster Pack!

20 thoughts on “Playful Learning: Letter Formation”

  1. Pingback: Art Inspired by The Carrot Seed | Stir The Wonder

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Thank you so much! I was really happy with the outcome!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Thank you! So happy you like it!

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  5. OOOH I love this so much! What a great idea for hands-on exploration of letter formation!

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Thank you so much!

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