“A,B,C,D…next time won’t you sing with me.” Your child has the ABC song memorized. Now what? It’s time to learn those letters and letter sounds. I’ve got everything you need to teach your child the alphabet and letter sounds with some super interactive alphabet activities.
Learning the Alphabet
Learning the names of letters will be very helpful when children start to write and spell. And, knowing letters also provides a concrete and visual place to hang and connect letter sounds.
Let’s answer all those questions that my readers ask about teaching the alphabet.
When Should Kids Learn Their Letters?
Childen typically start to recognize letters as toddlers. But, many won’t master identification of all letters until kindergarten.
My best advice is to not push it. Play games and keep it fun (I have lots of those below.) Through playful activities, your child will most likely pick up those letter names. There is NO RUSH. Kids develop on their own personal timelines.
What Letters Should Kids Learn First?
I like to start with the letters in a word that carries a lot of meaning to the individual who is learning- their NAME. Let the first letters your child learns be the letters in his name. This will probably be one of the first words your child reads too.
There is no need to go in a particular order. Play with the letters in a child’s name as a group or break into chunks of letters. It’s all about discovering and exploring. No drilling necessary.
Should a Child Learn Lowercase or Uppercase Letters First?
Both. I prefer to teach lowercase and uppercase letter identification together. You will find that when your child is ready to write letters, she will most likely form uppercase letters first. They are easier to write because there are more straight lines vs curves.
How and When Do You Teach Letter Sounds?
I like to practice letters sounds right alongside naming the letters of the alphabet. I stick with the common sounds when it comes to a letter that represents more than on sound. I teach the short vowel sounds like in the words cat, cut, cot, bit, and bet. I start with the hard sounds for c and g as in cap and gas.
The biggest takeway I can give you is to make sure you are modeling short crisp sounds. Be careful not to add extra phonemes when modeling letters sounds. Need to hear examples? Check out this letter sound video I created.—>LISTEN AND WATCH THE LETTER SOUNDS VIDEO
What are the Best Resources to Use to Learn Letters and Sounds?
My top resource is a book. Great books for kids are full of letters that you can point out as you read. Plus, you are filling your child’s language tank. Reading aloud to kids is by far the single most important thing we can to help a child be a future reader and thinker.
If there is one manipulative that I have used with kids over and over to work on the alphabet, it is a set of magnetic letters. I’ve very partial to this set.—>See the magnetic letters. CLICK HERE.
Here are my top 8 resources to have on hand.—>SEE THE 8 ALPHABET RESOURCES
The main things you want to consider before using a resource or activity with the kids are:
- Is the resource or activity hands-on?
- Will the resource or activity be engaging?
- Does the resource or activity encourage the caregiver to interact with the child?
What are the Best Alphabet Activities for Toddlers?
Playing WITH toddlers is the top way to introduce little ones to the alphabet. Both of my toddlers learned their ABCs through putting puzzles together. The bonus was that they were also learning about spatial recognition and building fine motor skills while they played.
Here are some of our other favorite alphabet activities for toddlers.
Runaway Alphabet (can also be played with preschoolers)
Magnetic Alphabet Games (can also be played with preschoolers)
What are the Best Alphabet Activities for Preschoolers?
Preschool is the perfect time to continue EXPLORING the alphabet with preschoolers. Not only are we still working on letter identification with preschoolers, we are also spending more time on those letter sounds. We also start to sort letters by common attributes (group letters that have curves vs letters that are all straight lines.)
Here are some of our favorite alphabet activities for preschoolers.
Rainbow Letters (lowercase and uppercase matching)
6 Ways to Use a Printable ABC Chart (includes a free printable)
Do you still want even more ideas? Check out more ideas on our Alphabet Games and Activities Page.
What are the Best Alphabet Activities for Kindergarteners?
BUILDING on those playful activities that kindergarteners did as toddlers and preschoolers is our next step. Special emphasis on letters sounds will start to get our youngsters ready to read.
Any of the games listed under preschool above will work for kindergarteners too. I just make sure to stress letters sounds with our kinders. We really work on developing phonemic awareness.
What are the Best Alphabet Books?
There are so many great alphabet books ranging from very basic letter identification type to subject specific books that even work with older children. Here are a few favorites.
I really like the sandpaper letters in Montessori Letter Work by Bobby George. It’s great for having the kids trace the shape of the letters. I will caution you that I don’t like the prompts that it gives for saying the letter sounds. It encourages adding extra phonemes. If you ignore that part, then I like this book.
Click here for more alphabet books on different topics.—>26 ALPHABET BOOKS
Playing and reading with toddlers and preschoolers will encourage lots of alphabet learning. Don’t forget that along with this letter learning we also need to build phonological awareness.
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