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Extension Extras Enrichments: Clothespin Letters


May 20, 2021 -

This activity will help children learn and recognize letters, which will eventually become a combination that creates a word. Letter recognition is an important developmental milestone. The ability to recognize letters is the key to the success of your child’s future reading ability. When participating in this activity, your child will also be using small muscles (fine motor muscles) in their fingers and hands to open and close the clothespins. Exercising these small muscles is crucial for handwriting abilities in the future.

This activity will help your child learn to recognize letters, the building blocks that combine to form words. In addition, they will spell words as they practice and develop their fine motor skills by matching clothespin letters in a word.

Clothespin Letter Supplies

  • At least 50 wood or plastic clothespins with spring
  • Fine-tip permanent marker 
  • Medium-sized baskets (2)
  • “Common Words” worksheet


  1. Using a felt-tipped pen, write a letter of the alphabet (A to Z) on each clothespin. Write frequently used letters such as A, C, D, E, H, I, K, L, M, N, O, R, S, T and U on multiple clothespins.
  2. Place clothespins in a basket.
  3. Cut words on the "Common Words" Worksheet apart. Place in a basket.

How to use

  1. Choose a word from the basket.
  2. Look through the basket of clothespins for the letters that in combination make the word.
  3. When you find a letter, squeeze the clothespin to open it and then close it on the piece of paper, aligning it with the correct letter.
  4. Repeat the step above until all the letters needed to spell the word are covered by clothespins.
  5. Once you find and cover all the letters of the word, remove the clothespins and place them back into the basket.
  6. Choose a different word and repeat.

This material was adapted from "Heads In, Hearts In" Michigan 4-H Youth Development, Michigan State University, Copyright 2017.This material was adapted from "Heads In, Hearts In" Michigan 4-H Youth Devleopment, Michigan State University, Copyright 2017.This material was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The grant was received under award number 2016-41520-255-64, a part of the children, Youth and Families at risk program.


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