Friday, May 28, 2010

Alerting Activity ABC Cards

This past weekend, we had our first family yard sale.  As I collected items for it from amongst the clutter of our home, it made me think about how much “stuff” we think kids “need” or “could use” only to find they outgrow it quickly.  Then, when I was at a friend’s house for a playdate, we ended up talking about the “too many toys syndrome” that plagues so many homes these days.  Thus, later, as I began flipping through an SPD resource catalog, coveting pricey supplies and games, I immediately caught myself.  “Neither my kids nor my budget needs any of this!  We have been doing just fine with frugal ideas and the view from my SPD lenses.”  Still, I thought we could use something “new” to spice up late afternoons when I am thoroughly wiped from third-trimester pregnancy just as the kids are primed for some sensory fun.  “Hmmm..." I continued to think, "I would really like something that would allow me to sit and them to move... Something that costs just pennies."  It was then an idea struck: Alerting Activity ABC Cards!

I am  excited to say that I just finished making some.  They were inspired by a mind for frugal fun, a desire to meet the kids late-afternoon need to move and mine to sit and, also, by some wonderful ABC Exercise Cards*  that an awesome activity bag swap partner I had included in a box of goodies for my children a couple months back.  (I wish I knew who created the cards originally, so I could credit that person.  if you know, please tell me!)

You see, Luke and Nina love the ABC Exercise cards, as well as some sensory diet inspired movement cards I put together for them for a recent road trip.  So, I was confident that Alerting Activity ABC Cards would be a hit, allowing me a few minutes on the couch while still facilitating late-in-the-day movement and sensory diet activities for the kids...

Perhaps, you’d like to use them to.  Please do!
To Prep the Cards:
Simply click on the thumbnails of the cards throughout this post.  When you do, larger, printable versions should pop up.  (Since I have not yet had time to figure out how to share documents through any of the free online sharing sites that exist, and do not have a PDF file maker yet, I simply uploaded the cards as images.)    Should you want a Publisher version of the cards instead so you can tweak my creation to suit your own child's need, simply leave a comment and your email address and I will get a copy out to you.  (Of course, if you do this, I would expect the courtesy of getting copies of your tweaked cards in return!)

Once you print the cards, simply cut them out and laminate them for durability of you wish.  (I simply use clear contact paper).  Then, stack the cards in a pile on a tray (Montessori style), tuck them in a Ziploc (activity bag style) or hole punch their corners and put them on a ring (handy style).  And, you'll be ready to play.
To Play
Be aware that in the set of cards, there are quick activities kids can do to alert each of their seven senses: auditory (hearing), gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell), tactile (touch), proprioceptive (muscle sense), visual (sight) and vestibular (balance).  With just their bodies and some typical items found at home (or prepared ahead of time if at school, camp or other locations), kids can use the cards to key into each of their seven senses, enjoying a few minutes –or as much time as they wish—of simple, fun activities aimed at “speeding up their engines”.  Before playing, in deference to your child's individual needs and abilities, as well as to what supplies you may or may not have on hand (think lemons and lemonade!), take a quick flip through the deck to pull out any that might not work for your child.

Once the deck is ready, when your child needs some alerting activities, pick a random card – or have the child do so – and follow the challenge on it.  It’s that simple!  Pick one at a time; pick several in a row; pick only ones of certain colors (The cards are color-coded by sense.)  Spend two minutes or twenty.  Whatever works for your child!
Or, for Variation, try these activities:

Board Game Style:  Lay the cards out, face down, in a “snake”,  board game style.  Choose small objects as place markers and grab a coin.  Place the markers before the first card in your game board snake.  Have the first player flip a coin.  Heads= two spaces.  Tails =one.  Move accordingly.  Flip the card over and follow the challenge on it.  Play until someone gets to the end of the “snake”.  (Of course, you can use dice or a number spinner for this game, too if coins are too small and, thus, a choking hazard, for your child or if finger dexterity does not allow for flipping.)
Spelling Snake:  Play as above, but have players collect the cards they land upon and meet the challenges of.  Whoever collects enough cards to spell a word wins.  (Printing two or more decks, or at least extras of the letters A, E, I, O, U, R, S, T, L and N can be helpful for this version.)

Pick a Letter, Any Letter:  Have your child choose a letter of the alphabet.  Then, find the corresponding card.  Follow the challenge on it.

Mother, May I?:  To help practice the habit of polite questioning and obedience, give each child a set of the cards.  Have them pick one and ask, “Mother, may I (do whatever is pictured on the selected card)?”  Answer, “Yes, you may,” or “No, you may ot” and have the child respond accordingly.

What letter Is It?:  To practice letter recognition, show players a card.  Whoever can name the letter (or its sound if working on phonics) first is asked to meet the challenge on it and gets to keep the card.  The winner is the player who ends up with the most cards.  Or, for more cooperative play, ask each player a letter directly by turn (not racing to be the first to name them) and consider it a "win for all" once all letters have been identified and all challenges met.

Can You Think Of...?:  For creative kids that have become familiar with the cards, set a challenge:  Can you think of another activity you could do that uses this letter?

Three-Part Cards: Although not traditional 3-part./nomenclature cards, I made these cards with the 3-part card style in mind.  So, Montessori-inspired folks, feel free to print out two copies of the cards.  Leave one whole and cut the other right below the letters.  Then, use one as the control set and one as the matching set, having children complete the challenges as they successfully match the cards.

Of course, there are many other ways to use the cards... Let your children take the lead (as mine often do!) and they will make up their own game versions.  You'll be amazed!  So, now, stop reading and get to having some sensory fun by printing out the Alerting Activity ABC Cards!

Then later, if you have a moment, stop back by this post to let me know how you and yours enjoyed using the cards.  And, please also leave any tips you might have for improving or modifying them.  (Since the cards were made in snippets of time between life’s many duties, often with the kids-in-lap, there are likely things that could be improved about them.  So, don’t be shy.  I value constructive criticism as much as kudos.)

Finally, for others' Frugal Friday ideas, please check out the links at Life As Mom.

NOTE:  The Exercise ABC cards I mentioned can now be found at The Homeschool Share site, My Body Lapbook on pages 54 to page 60, as I understand.


Unknown said...

Oh my goodness, these are fabulous Martianne! I especially love that you color coded the letters to go with the sense it works with. How creative!! We'll be using these for sure :)

Your blog is great. I've enjoyed all the links you've shared on the sensoryhomeschool loop!

Kathy D.

Olivia said...

We love these cards! My kids laugh so hard when they see their momma and daddy doing some of these things!

Honey said...

I LOVE these!!!

I wanted to share that we use lots of heavy works and one of the 'favorite games' we use is holding up the wall. My oldest is too old to get into really holding up the wall, but if I bring in that we're doing it for Sunshine well...he'll hold up the wall too and it's fun! I've come to find it a great stress reliever myself my just pressing my palms hard againsst the wall. It seems to relieve that knot that's lodged between my shoulder blades.

I think these are great! I love it. Great JOB!!!!

...with the hot heat and 3rd trimester place 1 (ONLY 1) drop of peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle with water. Mist yourself and your body will help feel cooler and energized. Do NOT bathe with peppermint oil. It should not be used during pregnancy but you can use 1 drop in a bottle of water to spray. The kids will like it too!


Mama Pickles said...

These are awesome!! Thank you. I have been wanting to make some myself and you have done it fo me!! My boys also like the ABC Exercise cards. I can't remember where I downloaded them from right now, but when I get a change to poke around I will try and find them.

I downloaded Cute PDF. It is a free program that allows you to turn documents into PDF. Once installed you click print and then go to printers and choose CutePDF. It will then save your file as a PDF. Super easy!

Jen said...

WOW This is awesome! Thankyou for the idea! :) In fact I think it is so great I forwarded a link to your post to my son's occupational therapist at the local therapy center. :) I encouraged her to forward it to the parents she works with. thankyou thankyou thankyou.

Anonymous said...

I love it.... very much!!! And will be trying to print it out soon --- Jeanne

Keri said...

Wow! I love these and the variation activities. Can't wait to try them out this summer :)

Adoption of Jane said...

That is so cool! Thanks... following your blog!

Hartley said...

You are always full of great ideas! Thanks Martianne -- and thanks for posting on the Carnival!


Leia said...

This is lovely; thank you so much for sharing! My son will love these!

Becky said...

wow..what a novel idea...almost makes me want to say duh! why didn't I think of this; this is great for any kid but especially those with SPD..can't wait to try it out

Kerryanne Cummins said...

I love these cards. I cant wait to print them out and use them! You are one creative Mama! Thank you for sharing.

Mama Pickles said...

I found where the ABC Exercise cards were from if you were still wondering- homeschoolshare dot com :)

Kate said...

hi there. did you ever figure out how to make this a pdf? i would love to have these cards. could you please send them to me?



Elaine said...

Hi, these are just fantastic! Could you possibly send me the publisher version, as I'd like to try making a few more?
If it's still relevant, the abc exercise cards are at
With best wishes, Elaine

Momof3 said...

I love your ideas- I'm having a hard time finding the exercise ABC cards and would also like the PDF to the Senses ABC cards if possible. Thank you so much!!

Martianne said...

The ABC Exercise Cards are at Just download the file and you should find them in it.

Deb Chitwood said...

I always love revisiting your posts, Martianne! I featured your Alerting Activity ABC Cards as the Free Printable of the Day at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and on Pinterest. :)


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