Pre-school children need to learn the shapes, names and sounds of 26 different letters—52 shapes, really, because the lower case letters only somewhat resemble the capital letters. This is a lot to learn when you’re 3 or 4 years old. This is why we try to make the letters of the alphabet as vivid and “real” as possible. On this page are games and activities to help young students learn the letters.
Do what your kids enjoy and find interesting and fun. Kids like things they can model, see, do, color, decorate, and manipulate. Make it an alphabet adventure!
Letter Learning Activities - Click on an Activity, Pattern, or Online Application:
Clothesline Letters — spell names or words from letters arranged on a string.
Print out very large letters—up to 3 feet tall. Besides being almost as tall as the child., these letters can be decorated with pictures of objects beginning with that letter.
Alphabet cookies — traditional way to teach alphabet letters. Decorate them with icing or sprinkles. Chocolate chip cookies can have chocolate chips on top, outlining the letter to emphasize it.
Foam letters (to cut out and decorate and play with)
Felt Animals to represent every letter, to go on a flannel board, and to play with (can also be printed out on paper)
Finger-paint the letters — easier to draw with a finger than with a pencil or pen. Finger-paint recipe included.
Letters on cards — Print and decorate your own letter cards. Flash cards shouldn't be dull.
Letter Sounds — online games to learn the sounds represented by the letters.
Palm Letters — spelling letters in the hand (sort of like reading a palm)
Learn Letters - online games to construct the shapes of the letters of the alphabet from circles and lines. A slightly different way to look at the lower-case letters, and makes the letters while involving less fine hand-eye coordination.
Color Letters – print out and color the letters with an animal whose name begins with that letter.
How do you begin teaching the letters of the alphabet to a child?
Start with that most important word—your child’s name. From the clothesline alphabet (the letters that fold over and stand up by themselves on a table, or that drape over a clothesline), or the Letter Cards print out the letters of your child’s first name (the short form, if there is one) and have the child color the letters and help put them in order. Name each letter as you arrange it. The next time you can do your child’s last name, and then middle name and then maybe the long form of the child’s first name. The child does not have to spell the name at this point; only to name the letters in his name. This makes learning the letters personal and important. Because it is something important to the child—his own name--the child “owns” his learning, and will be excited by it.
Begin pointing out words in the environment, such as STOP, McDonalds, EXIT and others. This is called environmental print. Kids will really get into this as you drive down the street. Ask them if they can "read" the words on stores, street signs, or cars. Some signs are logos and they will recognize the logo. Discuss what the sound is that the words starts with and then talk about what letter name is begins with.