Favourite Early Literacy Tools & Supplies
Here are the materials we use regularly for learning and literacy activities. Many of these items you may already have or they can be picked up fairly inexpensively. You might also consider alternatives to some traditional tools to support your little ones.
Some of the links I share are affiliate links. This means if you click on one and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Mark Making Tools
Pencils - 'golf pencils' are actually a perfect size for preschoolers. These pencils are durable and practical.
Wax crayons - when it comes to value and quality, it's hard to complete with Crayola. Both the ultra-clean and classic offer bright pigments and smooth lines.
Markers - there are SO many marker options! The length of pipsqueaks make them easier to handle and they're available in fine or broad line.
Pencil crayons - again, these are just the right length and Crayola quality. (If you already have full length pencils, you might consider cutting them in half so they're not as long and top heavy).
*You'll notice I've highlighted shorter versions of writing tools, but not chunkier. Read here for more on choosing the right size pencils and crayons for preschoolers and kinders, from an occupational therapist.
White glue - 'stick' with the Elmer's school glue, it's washable and doesn't run.
Glue sticks - I do like the purple glue that turns clear as it dries - not only is it more fun, but it's helpful to see where the glue is on the page.
Tape - painter's tape is hands down our favourite adhesive! - it rips easily, is not too sticky and doesn't leave residue - plus the colour is cool! You don't need to buy six rolls, but you just might want to. 😁
Scissors - blunt tip, good size and they claim to be ambidextrous. I would not bother with plastic safety scissors. In my experience, they only cut at a specific angle and lead to poor technique.
Tempera paint - we have this set and I like the colour selection and washability. I do however see the appeal of a squeeze bottle.
Paint brushes - this set offers a variety of sizes and the handles are not too long.
No spill paint cups - these are a real lifesaver. I can't tell you how many times our brush-cleaning water has accidentally tipped over.
Dot markers - we actually have the do-a-dot brand but they are really expensive on Amazon so I've linked to some others that are also non-toxic and water based.
Construction paper - we seem to go through a lot of construction paper. If you're like us and need more sheets, this package offers great value.
Coloured paper - I love the Astrobrights' colours, this paper is also high quality.
White printer paper - regular copy paper, 30% recycled.
Foam sheets - these are a nice-to-have extra as an alternative to craft paper.
Play dough - of the brands we've tried (and homemade), I still regularly return to Playdoh.
Kinetic sand - this has got to be the best play invention in the last 10 years! How does sand flow like water and still hold its shape? We can't seem to get enough of this stuff and it can be used in so many different ways.
Shaving foam - buy the least expensive one you can find, but be sure it's foam and not gel. It provides a great, tactile experience for practicing letter formation.
Activity tray - you'll need something to contain your sensory materials as they are being 'played' with. We have an old serving tray with a small lip around the outside. It keeps most of the 'stuff' in but doesn't require a deep reach.
Magnetic letters - probably the #1 must have item for any early literacy program. These are useful at every stage of learning, and especially helpful when it comes to combining sounds and building words.
Sandpaper letters - I know these are very popular in Montessori preschools, I personally can't bring myself to spend that kind of money on a single learning tool, but I may try making textured letters myself in the future. Jojoebi created a DIY version with sticky-backed felt that looks pretty straightforward.
Wikki Stix alphabet cards - if you haven't discovered Wikki Stix yet, this is a big moment! These wax-coated yarn 'sticks' can be bent into any shape you can imagine, making them perfect for letter formation.
Letter tracing boards - this is a great way to practice letter formation.
Puzzles and games - There are an endless number of products available that introduce children to letters (and their sounds). My suggestion when looking at puzzles and games is to keep them simple; some are so busy with colours and patterns, it becomes hard to focus on the letters themselves. Here is a short list of puzzles and games that stood out to me as quality learning tools. And of course use or modify what you already have first.
Letter puzzle with formation arrows - wooden
ABC matching picture boards - wooden
Match-it puzzle, upper case, lower case and picture sounds
Large magnetic letter construction pieces
I hope this list was helpful! My goal was to focus on the essentials. Please remember, you don't need to spend a bunch of money to make your early literacy program a success.