Apr 04 , 2014


Lindsey Dunn

Building Basic Letter Knowledge with U-Play Mat

Lesson Overview

In this activity, children will work on recognizing beginning letters of words and will find corresponding plastic letter.  


  • Recognize letters
  • Successfully match plastic letters to word beginning with the same letter.
  • Build gross motor and fine motor skills through picking up and moving letters to the corresponding Language Builder Card.


  • U-Play Mat
  • Language Builder Cards (included in U-Play Mat Set)
  • Plastic or magnetic letters 


Small group or one on one

If working in a small group, have teacher or therapist inside the “U” and the students on the outside. If working one-on-one, child can sit on the inside of the “U.”


  1. Begin by labeling the different pictures with the student. Have them provide the label and add in support as needed.
  2. Go back through each picture and look for the beginning letter. “Apple – starts with an A.” Refer to the pile of plastic letters. Ask the students to find a letter that looks like the beginning letter in Apple. If this is being used as more of an introduction to the letter A, make sure to discuss the features of the letter (i.e. straight lines). Put the plastic letter on the apple card. Repeat this for the remaining cards placed in the U-Play Mat.
  3. After all pictures have been introduced, now have students match the remaining plastic letters to the corresponding card. This can be done with as much or as little support as needed. 

Suggestions for Differentiation 

  • This activity can be modified to the needs of the child. If you want to focus on just one letter, simply choose one Language Builder card that begins with the desired focus letter. Choose three different plastic letters (3 of each letter). Have students find the letter that matches the beginning letter of word on the picture.
  • This can be modified for added difficulty by putting more cards in the U-Play pockets. Rather than providing a pile of letters, simply put the entire tub of plastic letters out for the child to search for the desired letter. 

Math Integration 

Rather than focusing on letters, you can modify this activity to have students work on number identification and matching. There are no number labels on the Language Builder Cards, so this must be done in advanced. Using a sticky-note, label the cards with numbers 1-5, or 1-10 if child is ready. Using plastic numbers, student must place the plastic number on the corresponding number on the language builder cards.

If they are ready to start building number, switch out the plastic number for counters (teddy bear, cubes, or whatever is around). Students need to place the number of counters on the U-Play mat that is designated by the number on the Language Builder Card.  

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