Gelly Bags for Letter Identification

Ok, so .....on to the tutorial for today!!!!

What's one of the first things we start to work on at the beginning of kindergarten?
Ok, no I don't mean how to make a line or sit still (although those are critical) - I'm talking about practicing writing letters and names. Learning letters and names is all about repetition, repetition, repetition. And that can get boring. Most kids will learn quickly, but what about those strugglers who seem to need TONS of repetition? Well, here is an activity that makes this repetitive practice FUN. It's not only fun, it's also great fine motor work - tactile learning at its best!

 One activity I use to help my strugglers with letter formation, id, and simply fine motor skills is "Gelly Bags". Gelly bags are super simple to make and use, yet highly effective when used correctly.

I made a video to show you how I make mine. Go watch it (and be nice please)..... I used to make gelly bags and would just place the gelly bag over a letter card and trace. But I found that if they worked on the carpet or on a dark/spotted table, it was difficult for them to really see the letter. That defeated the entire point of tracing the letter (they needed to be able to focus on the letter). It was important they be able to clearly see the letter to trace it. So I find that if I back the gelly bag with white foam board, it doesn't matter where they work, they will be able to clearly see the letter!

It's also super easy to make! They will last a long time. I made a class set in under 30 minutes!

Here is my precious Reagan using the gelly bag to practice writing his name.

HOW TO MAKE: Pour colored hair gel (yeah the kind you put in your hair) in a Ziploc bag. I prefer to use the gallon-size bags because it allows you to use larger letters underneath. That is important for those struggling letter learners who are still working on fine motor control. Also, I suggest using the name-brand baggies because you don't want an accident mess everywhere. The name-brand baggies are thicker and more durable.

Simply pour the gel into the baggie (it uses almost half a bottle. You want enough to cover the whole bag when you flatten it, but not so much that the gel is too thick to see through. You also want to use a light-colored gel....The darker the gel - the harder it is to see the letter - defeating the whole purpose of the activity.....light pink, light yellow, light blue work great!

Next, squeeze ALL the air out of the bag. This is uber important. When all the air is out, zip the bag up. Use clear packing tape to tape the bag to the foam boards (I wrap the zipper edge around the top part of the foam board (the video shows how). Tape it really good with packing tape. Squish the bag flat. Bam!! You are done!

HOW TO USE: Choose a letter that you are teaching. Place the letter under the gelly bag (between the gelly bag and the foam board). Model how kids should form the letter with their finger. Be sure to remind them to use the pad of their finger - not their finger tip. There is 2 very good reasons for this: 1. Fingernails can snag the bag. (Trust me...I speak from experience) and 2. Using the pad of their finger is more effective for proper muscle memory.

I promised a freebie and I shall deliver. It is SUPER simple....but I needed simple, clear, and large letters to use with my "gelly bags". I figured if I needed them surely someone else would too.

Click HERE to grab the gelly bag letters:

I hope this was helpful. What is something you do to help kids practice letters and names at the beginning of the school year?


  1. Thank you so very much for the sweet shout-out Jeannie! I am thinking about how to get hubs to go shopping with me again to help me look for colored gels! lol
    One thing I do when school begins is teach my students our name songs, then spend about five minutes of each morning meeting every day singing and doing the motions of our songs. I have one called the "I Know I Can Find My Name Blues" where kids are called randomly by me as we clap, stomp, and turn around to the rhythm of our names until all students have gone up to select their name card from the pocket chart. I keep the cards in alphabetical order until kids are better at recognizing their names, then I start mixing them up in the chart so they really have to know the "look" of their name to find it! Another thing I do every year is a photo name bingo book. We sing the bingo song as we read/sing each child's name: M-a-g, -g-i-e, M-a-g, g-i-e...and Maggie is her name-o! I have lots of name activities that incorporate music and fine motor. Thanks again!!!
    Maggie's Kinder Corner

  2. I wanted to thank you for taking the time to make this video. I am very visual so it helps to see what an example in process. I can't wait to make this and use it with my 4s class this fall.

  3. I love this!! Thanks for creating this video, I now know exactly how to make them! :)

  4. Such a fun idea! cant wait to try it next year!

    I am a new follower! Feel free to check out my blog! :) I will be creating more fun activities once school is out! I have 9 more days! :)


    Katelin's Kreative Kindergarten

  5. Love the foam board "twist" to this activity. Just put in on my to do list! Thanks for the letters, saved me some time! Enjoy your summer! :o)

  6. Thank you for the letters! While I was reading your post I was thinking about making letters and then I saw that you already did:) Thank you!!