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.
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.
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
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lea hert says
Which ABC letters used with play dough- will the magnetic letters work that you suggested or another type?
Jodie Rodriguez says
Yes, those will work!
Dorris hope says
Your teaching materials are very useful thank you.
Jodie Rodriguez says
So glad you find them useful.
The Preschool Toolbox says
So many great activities for learning names. I, agree, that repetition is key! Nice resources!
I love the parking garage! So fun. We did your turkey activity last fall and the kids loved it.
Country Fun Child Care says
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.
Mary Catherine says
You know I am all about learning with names! LOVE all of these ideas! Thank you! 🙂
Clarissa H says
So many great activities to learn names! We will be adding a few to our repertoire!
I love all of these! So many great ideas!
I absolutely love this suggestion! Those letters are personal to the child and will help them get excited about learning!
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!
These are the best hands-on ways to learn the letters in your name. That turkey is so stinkin cute!