Letters & Names

Play with Letter Construction
StarterThe Printed Word


While exploring the process of printing a few children are sure to begin constructing letters. “They’re all lines!” said Isabel (age 4) while her preschool class was thinking about how to print the letter “A”.  The letters of the alphabet are made up of vertical, horizontal, diagonal and curved lines. Line printing is a concrete way to see, experience, and demonstrate these complex understandings on paper.



Straight Edge Letters

Begin a letter exploration by focusing on the straight-edge capital letters since only one tool – the large, straight cardboard line tool – is needed. Personalize the experience by choosing a straight-edge letter from a child’s name and asking, “Do you think you could figure out how to print a _______ with this line stamp?”

Allow time for children to practice creating letters with the straight line tool (no paint)

If possible, suggest that children begin with the letters that are easiest to construct – those made from horizontal and vertical lines. Letters with diagonal lines are trickier to construct.

Introduce the Curved Line Tool

The best time to add a curved line tool is when you observe that children have a need for it. When I held up the curved line tool I heard a chorus of children saying, “Now I can make my P… D… S… J…” They knew they needed a curve!

Take time to brainstorm and play with strategies for constructing letters that are particularly difficult to print such as B, D, G, J, Q, R, S.

Cut the inside of masking tape rolls, or cut paper coffee cups in half and trim to make the large curved line tool.


Watch children experiment with the printing process and letter construction for the first time.

Share & Reflect

Hold up children’s letter explorations and invite them to play a game of finding and pointing out the hidden letters in each other’s prints. Often young children don’t realize that they have printed a letter until someone points it out to them.

Sometimes children figure out how to print a letter with a curved edge using the straight line tool, as Joe (age 4) did in this example. Be sure to reinforce this inventive way of problem solving.

Variations & Extensions