Alphabet Treasure Hunt

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Alphabet Treasure Hunt

Now that the weather has been warming up, my oldest son has been spending a lot of time digging in our sandbox.  As I watched his face light up with excitement when he discovered a worm, I realized that the sandbox was yet another fabulous spot for helping him learn to recognize letters of the alphabet.  This alphabet treasure hunt is perfect for children who are learning the names or sounds of letters as well as little ones who are starting to match upper and lowercase letters.


To play, you’ll need letter cut-outs that you don’t mind getting dirty.  I used our stack of magnetic letters but wooden or foam ones would work well too.  If your child is still learning the names of letters, choose just a few to hide at a time so that he can focus on learning several letters well before adding more to his to-do list.  If your child is working on matching upper and lowercase pairs, be sure that each letter has a match before hiding it.


Once you have your stack of letters ready, hide away.  Then invite your child to scoop the sand and hunt for the hidden letters.  Each time he finds one, have him repeat its name after you.

Talking about what it looks like helps his brain too.  For example, when C found this [m] our conversation sounded like this:

Me: “You found an [m]!”

C: “[m].”

Me: “The [m] has a line on this side and then two humps.  It’s called [m].”

C: “Yeah! It’s [m].”

(Then C threw it quickly to the side and started hurriedly digging in the sand to find his next treasure: an [o].)

When C is older, I will adjust this activity by encouraging him to match the upper and lowercase letters.  He will find pairs like these two [L]s.


What other ways do you help your child learn letters?  Please share in the comments below.


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About Malia Hollowell

Malia is a National Board Certified elementary teacher turned stay at home mama to three young kids {4, 2.5 and 5 months}. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Education {go Stanford!} and spent seven years teaching in a classroom. Since starting Playdough to Plato in 2012, her ideas have been featured in Parenting Magazine, Pinterest's Top Educational Pins and Kiwi Crate.


  1. My middle daughter is my dig in the dirt kid;) My three kids spent many bubble baths searching for the foam letters and numbers in their early emergent stages, making the sound, thinking of a word that starts with that sound, then sticking it to the wall. Love your blog!

  2. Oh! Great idea, Shelisa. I’m adding a bottle of bubble bath to our shopping list.

  3. This is a great idea. Saw a link to this on Facebook and I am pinning it, I hope that is okay.

  4. Please pin away! :)

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  6. A great way to learn

  7. Thank you!!

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