How to Teach the Alphabet: Start With Letters in Your Name

You will find differing opinions when it comes to how is best to teach the alphabet.  Some believe that focusing on letter of the week is the way to go.  Others feel that there should be whole alphabet instruction.  Another camp says that we should teach letters in the order of frequency.  Then, there is the whole debate over teaching lowercase or uppercase first.  It really can make your head spin!

Over the years, I’ve worked with lots and lots of kids, families and teachers in early childhood education.  Over and over, I’ve seen that if we add a personalized touch to our learning, the rewards are great.  So, I suggest when you are trying to decide which letters to teach first, start with the letters in your child’s name!

The most personalized and meaningful word in a child’s world is his or her name.  And, that name is made up of letters.

How to teach the alphabet? Start with the letters in your child's name. Fun ideas for learning letters.

Learning the Letters in Your Name

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Now we know which letters to start with, but how do we teach a child the letters in their name?  Alphabet instruction for young children needs to include a few things.  It needs to be:

  1. Hands-on
  2. Playful
  3. Repetitive

Hands-on

Kids need to pick letters up, turn them, feel them and sort them.  Our favorite manipulative to use for this is a set of magnetic letters both lowercase and uppercase.  These are our favorite magnetic letters.

leter fly spider web game to compliment Eric Carle's The Very Busy Spider from growingbookbybook.com

Here are a few letter activities we have done with magnetic letters: Letter Flies and Runaway Letter.

We also like to use a letter construction kit that the kids can manipulate and build letters.

Playful

Incorporating learning the letters in your name should be done in a playful way. There is no need for flashcard drills.  Include gross motor activities and sensory activities.

These are some of the playful ways we have worked with letters in our name.

alphabet activity learn your name

Learning Your Name Parking Garage is a way to incorporate car and truck play into learning.  Plus, it is a great cleaning-up activity.

collecting letters in the learning your name activity

Or take your learning the letters of your name to the train table.

learning to write your name

Name Shape Spelling lets kids find, sort and write the letters in their name.

learning your name playdough activity

Play dough is a wonderful sensory experience for exploring letters in your name.  Here are 5 ways to use play dough to learn your name.

Identify the letters in your name with this apple stamping forest activity from growingbookbybook.com

Tie working on your name into seasonal themes.  During apple season, we had fun exploring apple print name trees.

learning your name feather turkey activity from growingbookbybook.com

Come Thanksgiving you can build a name turkey.  There are so many seasonal ways to tie-in learning the letters of your child’s name.

Repetitive

We all need multiple exposure to something before we truly own it.  Trying putting your child’s name to a song.  Playdough to Plato shares songs for learning your name depending on the number of letters in the name.

Hang your child’s name in his/her bedroom as art.  In fact, create the name art together.

——————

Then next debate comes with lowercase vs uppercase instruction.  I believe that it needs to be both at the same time.

When we model spelling and writing our names we should model starting with an uppercase letter followed by lowercase letters.  Don’t fret if your child writes their name with all capital letters though.  Play to Learn Preschool explains why it is developmentally appropriate for kids to mix lowercase and uppercase letters.

So, how should we teach the alphabet?  Have fun, make it hands-on, playful and frequent!

For more alphabet ideas related to early childhood visit our #TeachECE  co-hosts posts.

Teaching the Alphabet with a Class Name Book by Fun-A-Day
Capital or Lowercase?  Alphabet Activity for Kindergarten or Preschool by Capri + 3
Playful Ways to Learn Alphabet Letters by Still Playing School
Preschool Letter Activities: 3 Ways to Teach the ABC’s by Learning 2 Walk
Preschool Activities that Teach the Alphabet by Munchkins and Moms
A Giant List of Alphabet Activities by Mom Inspired Life
How We Learn Our ABC’s by  Tiny Tots Adventures
Learning the Alphabet Ideas plus FREE ABC Poster by Powerful Mothering
 Playful Learning Literacy Games for Preschool and Kindergarten! by The Preschool Toolbox Blog
Teaching the Alphabet Activities for Children by The Educators’ Spin On It

P.S. For more great literacy ideas, we send out a weekly newsletter. You can see a sample here.  If you like what you see, sign up to receive it for FREE each week.

About Jodie Rodriguez

Jodie Rodriguez is a mom of two young boys and an early childhood/elementary educator with over 18 years of experience. Jodie's passion is helping parents, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in nurturing our youngest readers.

Comments

  1. These are the best hands-on ways to learn the letters in your name. That turkey is so stinkin cute!

  2. Yup, I now have a reason to pull out our train and race car tracks. I can’t stand them toys but I will pull them out for the train learning idea you just set off in my head. I see happy girls in my future!

  3. I absolutely love this suggestion! Those letters are personal to the child and will help them get excited about learning!

  4. I love all of these! So many great ideas!

  5. So many great activities to learn names! We will be adding a few to our repertoire!

  6. You know I am all about learning with names! LOVE all of these ideas! Thank you! 🙂

  7. Love the ideas shared here. Even more I agree that starting with names is a great way to teach about letters. I know from years of teaching that young children naturally pick up not only their first letter, but those of their friends, just through the daily exposure. Truly a great jumping off place.

  8. I love the parking garage! So fun. We did your turkey activity last fall and the kids loved it.

  9. So many great activities for learning names. I, agree, that repetition is key! Nice resources!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Playing School Preschool Letter Activities: 3 Ways to Teach the ABC’s by Learning 2 Walk Learning the Alphabet- Which Letters Do I Teach First? by Growing Book by Book Preschool Activities that Teach the Alphabet by Munchkins and Moms A Giant […]

  2. […] Playing School Preschool Letter Activities: 3 Ways to Teach the ABC’s by Learning 2 Walk Learning the Alphabet- Which Letters Do I Teach First? by Growing Book by Book Preschool Activities that Teach the Alphabet by Munchkins and Moms A Giant […]

  3. […] Playing School Preschool Letter Activities: 3 Ways to Teach the ABC’s by Learning 2 Walk Learning the Alphabet- Which Letters Do I Teach First? by Growing Book by Book Preschool Activities that Teach the Alphabet by Munchkins and Moms A Giant […]

  4. […] Playing School Preschool Letter Activities: 3 Ways to Teach the ABC’s by Learning 2 Walk Learning the Alphabet- Which Letters Do I Teach First? by Growing Book by Book Preschool Activities that Teach the Alphabet by Munchkins and Moms A Giant […]

  5. […] Playing School Preschool Letter Activities: 3 Ways to Teach the ABC’s by Learning 2 Walk Learning the Alphabet- Which Letters Do I Teach First? by Growing Book by Book Preschool Activities that Teach the Alphabet by Munchkins and Moms A Giant […]

  6. […] Work on literacy by having preschoolers learn the alphabet with the letters in their names! Jodie from Growing Book by Book explains […]