Alphabet Soup – A “Martha Speaks” Learning Activity

This little learner activity is perfect for emergent readers!

This summer I grabbed the children’s classic, Martha Speaks (by Susan Meddaugh) off the library shelves and got a little bit inspired to do something more than just read. My daughter laughed and laughed at the idea of a dog spouting off full sentences, and begged over and over again to reread the book.


I decided to add in our own alphabet fun because…why not? It turned out to be a great learning opportunity to explore letters and expand her spelling and phonics abilities.


First you need a copy of Martha Speaks. I love taking my time and letting my little one dwell on the illustrations and ask questions on each page. This tends to help her comprehension skills. Let them laugh at ALL the silliness! Then ask questions like…

  • Why do you think everyone was so excited about Martha talking?
  • What happened when Martha said too many words?
  • What do you think will happen next?

Next, grab a small handful of alphabet magnet manipulatives. Mine are really a mishmash from thrift store finds – I’m not sure I have one single complete set! But we do love these little letters.

Place all the letters in a large container or tub full of lukewarm water, and add a spoon or ladle. Ask your child to “stir” his or her alphabet soup! We even “mixed the ingredients” first, then dumped them in the water. Have fun with it!

Let them play and discover with no mention of goals or tasks for several minutes. It gives them a chance to start making their own discoveries and forming concepts!



Next, move on to some of these fun activities!

For very young emergent readers, playing with the letters is the goal. Try focusing on these tasks:

  • Noticing letter shapes
  • Sounding out a few letters
  • Organizing letters by color, straight lines, or curvy lines
  • Help your child spell his or her own name

For an older child, try adding in a few of these tasks:

  • Spelling out his or her name
  • Spelling out simple words of choice (sun, pat, dog, etc.)
  • Creating a “nonsense word” (fip, zup, buk, etc.)
  • Isolating and “spooning out” digraphs (gl, sh, th, etc.)


We played “alphabet soup” for over AN HOUR. She even found a stuffed puppy to be “Martha.” ❤


This activity will have your little readers begging for more “alphabet soup!” 🙂


What are your favorite ways to use alphabet magnets?


cup for header



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