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.
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:
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.
We also like to use a letter construction kit that the kids can manipulate and build letters.
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.
Learning Your Name Parking Garage is a way to incorporate car and truck play into learning. Plus, it is a great cleaning-up activity.
Or take your learning the letters of your name to the train table.
Name Shape Spelling lets kids find, sort and write the letters in their name.
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.
Tie working on your name into seasonal themes. During apple season, we had fun exploring apple print name trees.
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.
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