1) Challenge the kids to build rectangles of various dimensions out of the tiles (we have 36 tiles, which has many factors), and then measure the area (all the same) and the diameters of their rectangles.
2) Can you put the puzzle together so no two tiles of the same color share a side? What about sharing a corner? What is the minimum number of colors to accomplish this?
The puzzle also gave us an opportunity to examine the shape of each letter and number more closely:
3) Which letters have straight lines, and which ones have curves?
4) How many holes does each letter have? (This is an introduction to a concept of Topology called Homeomorphism) For older kids, extend this concept by asking them to use playdough to transform one letter into another without changing the number of holes
5) Flip the letters along either the horizontal and vertical axis to test symmetry:
7) Invite the kids to match up other moveable alphabet pieces you may have (small puzzle pieces, alphabet tiles, flash cards, etc..) to the alphabet mats
8) Gather a variety of objects and challenge the kids to sort them on the alphabet mats based on the letter they start with. L and E were both quite good at this one, since they've been practicing with our Alphabet Boxes.
My kids love anything involving physical activity, so there was a lot of running and jumping on the mat:
9) Call out a letter by either saying the name of the letter, the phonetic sound it makes, or a word that starts/ends with the letter and ask the child to jump to it. You could do this with numbers too:
10) Place the letter tiles in alphabetic order - make an alphabet train the circles all around the room.
11) Make a number line and practice counting forwards/backwards by jumping on each number. You can also practice addition by showing the kids how to start on the first number and then jump forward the required number of times. L and E both really loved this one. We did more of the Number Line Activities that we've done in the past.
12) Throw a bean bag on a specific number or letter and then name it (or, if it is a letter, name something that starts with that letter):
13) Play BINGO, or even Tic-Tac-Toe, by putting letters into a bag, picking them one by one, and then placing a marker on the matching letter until you get a complete row:
14) Play twister by calling out letters ("Right hand on 'A', Left foot on 'R'):
I did most of these activities with L and E, who had such a good time playing these games that they forgot they were reinforcing their phonemic awareness and number concepts. I'm amazed at how a simple toy that was forgotten in a storage closet for 2 years has been such a source of entertainment (and learning) for my kiddos.