If you want to teach your child the alphabet in a fun way, you’re in the right place. In this post I’ll talk you through activities for all the letters of the alphabet. We’ll dive into letter sounds, uppercase letters vs. lowercase letters and exactly how and when you should be teaching your child alphabet letters. And then I’ll give you plenty of preschool activities with letters to make fun alphabet learning happen.
TEACHING THE ALPHABET TO PRESCHOOLERS IN A FUN WAY
The thing about these little preschool aged people is that they won’t do what we want them to do nearly as well as they’ll do what they want to do.
So we really want the buy in from them upfront.
We want them to be so excited about learning that they’re asking to do it and we want to avoid all situations of making them sit there and learn.
If that feels impossible to you right now I just want you to know that so many moms in my community were in the exact same place and have emailed me to say that their children are now coming to them and asking them for learning time.
I have created the most comprehensive system I have ever seen for teaching your child the alphabet. It’s designed for moms by a kindergarten teacher and it truly gives you everything you need for a letter sounds, letter names, and letter writing— with tips from a teacher for every single letter.
I’ll talk to you through lots of other hands-on activities in this post to that I want to make you aware that this called mine every sources exist.
WONDERING HOW TO MAKE LEARNING THE ALPHABET FUN?
When we’re teaching our preschoolers anything there are a few things we can do to set them up for success.
Anytime you’re planning an activity to do with your child, take a minute to zoom out and think about how you can make it more fun and engaging for them.
Think about your child’s interests.
And think about they way your child likes to learn.
There are often so many easy ways to make an activity more engaging.
Can you make it more hands-on? Or include something sensory like play dough?
If you’re using something like matching cards, you can dump those right into a sensory bin to make the activity more fun.
I also love to hide matching cards (think: letters & pictures that represent beginning sounds) around the house and turn it into a hunt. My preschooler really loves finding things.
I believe you can turn whatever concept you want to teach them into a fun activity.
This goes for letters, but also really for anything else you want them to learn.
HOW TO TEACH THE ALPHABET
There are 3 specific things your child needs to know about each letter of the alphabet.
3 Must-Know Letter Skills
- LETTER NAMES
- LETTER SOUNDS
- WRITING LETTERS
That last one, writing, is the hardest and often comes last because it’s totally dependent on your child’s fine motor skills.
Your child can start learning letter names and letter sounds at 3. But the teeny tiny muscles in their hands won’t be developed enough for them to write letters, and that’s perfectly fine.
I’ll talk more about how to build them up to be successful with writing in just a bit.
Let’s start where I want you to start with your child — letter names and letter sounds.
LETTER NAME ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOLERS
We want your child to be able to look at the letter and instantly know the name of that letter and the most common sound that letter makes.
It’s going to take a lot of work to get to that point for all 26 letters of the alphabet.
We want to start exposing our children to letters as early in their life as possible and just make this a continuous part of our daily routine until they enter kindergarten.
Letter learning doesn’t stop in kindergarten, it just becomes much more complicated and I’ll have to write another post dedicated to that.
Quick pass: you are not behind if you did not start at three going to start where you are and move forward from here together.
Just put a teacher in your corner now and use the tools that I have created to guide you through this entire process and you will absolutely be successful.
How can you help your child practice these letter identification skills skills?
You want your child to to see the symbol and hear the name as often as possible.
The best first step for teaching your child letters is to simply expose them to letters as often as possible in their natural environment. There are letters everywhere – on boxes, signs, food packages, etc.
Look around your home and see where you can find letters. Start pointing these letters out to your child and encourage them to let you know when they see letters too!
Even if they don’t know what the letter’s name is, knowing that it is a letter is a great first step – and a great opportunity for you to tell them the letter’s name
Tip: Identify letters that you find naturally in your environment. If you’ve got a cereal box on the table, that’s a great chance to point out the letters.
UPPERCASE LETTERS VS. LOWERCASE LETTERS
Be sure to always expose your child to both uppercase and lowercase letters.
They need to know BOTH.
Sometimes parents feel like their child “knows their letters” when they know the names of all the uppercase letters.
That’s a great first step but your child absolutely needs to know the names of the lowercase letters too.
And by the way, a child hasn’t truly mastered letters until they know their sounds too, but more on that in a minute.
LETTER NAME ACTIVITIES IN THE ULTIMATE ALPHABET LEARNING KIT
There are so many helpful resources and games in the Ultimate Alphabet Learning Kit to help your child learn letter identification (a.k.a. letter names).
Some of these activities include letter posters, search and finds and color the dog’s letter path.
MORE FUN LETTER IDENTIFICATION ACTIVITIES
Here are some more fun alphabet games for learning lower case letters and upper case letters.
LETTER SOUND ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOLERS
If you are like most preschool moms without a background in education, you are likely wondering…
Why do letter sounds matter so much?
Back in my day (and likely yours too) we learned to identify letters and order them alphabetically long before we learned their sound. In fact, I don’t ever remember being explicitly taught that letters make sounds.
Most children of my generation also learned to read with the whole language approach.
A.K.A. we learned to memorize words.
These days there have been some upgrades in literacy education. First and foremost being phonics.
This means that your child will learn to read, at school or with you, by using letter sounds.
There will be some words they will have to memorize because they don’t follow phonetic rules. These are called sight works, for example the word the.
But for the most part, your child will decode or sound out unknown words using letter sounds, until eventually all words become sight words like they are for you and me.
This decoding skill is vital. And it all begins with learning letter sounds.
How can I help my child learn letter sounds?
When we talk about learning letter sounds, we often practice these skills by focusing on beginning sound words.
Eventually, your child will be able to hear and manipulate middle and ending sounds too but beginning sounds are always the easiest and best place to start.
Instead of saying to your child something like “a is for apple”, it is best to say “a is for ah like in apple”.
Help them hear those sounds.
Our goal is for your child to look at the picture, say the word, and isolate the beginning sound.
It will take some practice for them to be able to do this independently since it is a multi-step, complex skill.
But this is a foundational phonics skill that will come up again and again for them throughout early literacy, so that practice is worth it.
As you’re teaching your child letter names, let them know that each letter makes a special sound.
Practice hearing letter sounds as you speak with your child. Help your child to hear letter sounds by slowing down a word and accentuating each sound in the word.
Occasionally, stop and tell your child about the letter sounds you hear. For example, if you see a dog you can say “I hear the /d/ sound in dog. Do you hear it? /d/-og.”
In time you’ll see them start to do the same thing.
Letter Sound I-Spy
My preschooler and I like to play letter sound I Spy
To put a letter sound twist on I spy simply being with “I Spy with my little eye something that begins with the /b/ sound.”
Substitute any letter sound.
Then have your child find the object or picture that begins with that sound.
You can simplify this by putting out three objects with different beginning sounds to choose from like a ball, cup, and hat.
Just be sure to say the letter sound instead of “something that begins with b”.
Letter Name and Letter Sound Match
As often as possible, give your child the opportunity to match letters to their letter sounds.
You can use magnet letters and physical objects (likely toys) around your house or you can use picture cards like the ones I created for you in the Ultimate Alphabet Learning Kit.
The goal is for your child to say a letter’s sound aloud (while looking at the actual letter), hear that sound, and then say the names of the objects/pictures to choose which one begins with the same sound.
Warning: Do not give your child all 26 letters at once!
Start with maybe 3.
When they’ve got those down, add in a 4th.
Once they’ve mastered those 4, maybe recycle one out and add in a new one.
We don’t want to overwhelm our kiddos and make them frustrated. We want them to feel the success and build up that learning confidence.
LETTER SOUND ACTIVITIES IN THE ULTIMATE ALPHABET LEARNING KIT
Just like with letter names, are so many helpful resources and games in the Ultimate Alphabet Learning Kit to help your child learn letter sounds.
Some of these activities include letter puzzles, letter sound match and reading practice. There’s even an alphabet book for each letter that will help your child practice early reading skills.
Should I teach letter names and letter sounds at the same time?
Teach letter names and sounds together.
This is the best way to help your child internalize the meaning of each letter and the connection between the symbol they see and the sound that it makes.
Learning letters and sounds together will help your child immensely when they start to use those letter sounds to decode or sound words out.
And while you’re teaching a letter’s name and sound, practice writing it too.
Don’t put a lot of pressure on the writing part, because again, that just relies so heavily on your child’s fine motor skills, but give them a chance to practice for sure.
LETTER FORMATION A.K.A. LETTER WRITING ACTIVITIES
For most of our preschoolers this is the hardest letter skill to master and there is a very good reason for that.
Writing is both a thinking skill and a physical skill.
The child needs to know in their mind what the letter looks like and then they need to physically with their hand write that letter down.
And writing for preschoolers in general is so hard because they’re still forming their fine motor skills – which are all of the teeny tiny muscles in their small little hands that they use for writing.
So if your child can identify the letters but is struggling to write them down, I encourage you to circle back to practice fine motor skills and really help your child build those up.
The stronger your child’s fine motor skills are, the easier it will be for them to write.
LETTER WRITING ACTIVITIES IN THE ULTIMATE ALPHABET LEARNING KIT
Of course, there are plenty of teacher designed letter writing activities inside the Ultimate Alphabet Learning Kit.
There’s letter tracing, letter coloring and a play dough mat to help your child learn how to form each letter.
I like to put the letter tracing pages inside a page protector and have my preschooler use a dry erase marker to write on them. That way we can erase and practice again and again.
Is there a specific order I should use to choose letters for these preschool alphabet activities?
Most moms naturally fall into abc order when they’re going through the entire alphabet for letter of the week activities.
However, the order of the alphabet song isn’t really best.
Instead, I encourage you to decide on an order with a strategy in mind. Here are some suggestions:
First, you could start with the letters in your child’s name.
Starting with the letters of their name is a great way to begin because children are excited about their names, and these letters will be highly motivating for them to learn.
However, if your child’s name has really tricky letters or a tricky beginning letter (like Xavier perhaps), you might want to veer from learning name letters first.
It is 100% up to you if you want to introduce name letters first. Either way, the following suggestions will help you instead of name order or after name order.
Another choice is to start with easy sounds & commonly used letters.
Letters m, f, s, p, t, c are more commonly used and easier sounds to learn than q, x, and z, for example.
(These are the first letters that I used in my lesson plans as a teacher.)
And option 3 is easier sounds & easier formation order.
With this strategy, you’d start by focusing on letters that have easy sounds but are also easier to write.
Letters t, b, and f are more both fairly easy sounds and easy to learn to write for example.
Keep those easier sounds first, let your child master how to learn a letter and sound and then move on to progressively more difficult letters.
Aside from that, there is not a black and white clear answer on exactly what order letters should be taught. Some of it will just be up to you.
FUN ALPHABET ACTIVITIES FOR PRESCHOOLERS
Now that you know the 3 important letter skills you should be working on, here is a list of alphabet activities for parents to do at home. These are my favorite activities for teaching a preschooler letter recognition, letter sounds, and writing letters.
Magnet letters are great for uppercase lowercase match and really any letter identification skill.
You can use magnet letters like these and have your child match them on your refrigerator or a cookie sheet.
If you have a child who loves hunting and finding things like I do, you could also hide magnetic letters around the house and have your child find them, bring them to you, and tell you that letter’s name or sound.
You could also use letter cards in place of magnet letters. Just write the uppercase and lowercase letters on index cards or print them and cut them out. Then mix them up and practice matching.
Psst… If you want these cute printed letter cards, I send some great ones out as a surprise gift when you sign up to join my email list.
Match only 5 or 6 letters at a time. Matching all 26 letters at the same time will be difficult and overwhelming, especially at first. Limiting the amount of letters will set your child up for success.
This is a great one for alphabet recognition.
Simply take some large letters (magnets, puzzle pieces, cut outs, whatever you have) and put them in a bowl or pot or some kind of large containers.
Then, give your child a big spoon. I like to use an old plastic serving spoon that I don’t really use anymore for cooking.
Your child uses the big spoon to scoop out the individual letters one at a time.
When they scoop it out they can say the name or sound or match it to a picture that represents its sound or even just the lowercase version of the letters. Whatever feels right for your child!
Here are some of my favorite creative ways to practice letter skills as crafts.
Alphabet Crowns from 123 Homeschool 4 Me
What a fun alphabet activity to practice letter recognition and letter sounds!
Printable letter crafts for preschoolers from Preschool Play & Learn
These are a great option if you want to use alphabet printables as a starting point. And perfect if you’re looking for letter of the week crafts!
Personalized Name Crayons from Upcycle My Stuff
I thought this was a creative and playful way to help your child practice their name letters.
Plus it’s a great way to use up all those broken crayons that I know you have laying around!
DIY Painted Rock Magnets from Made with Happy
Painting is so fun for our preschoolers and this is a great way to incorporate letter learning!
DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE LETTER LEARNING FUN
Here are a few more kids activities that I know will be so much fun for learning letter skills.
Alphabet Sensory Bins from Catholic Icing
I love using sensory bins to get children excited to learn. This is a great tutorial for using an alphabet base and letter sound fillers for a fun preschool activity with letters.
Alphabet Sticker Matching from Glitter on a Dime
This would also be great for matching lowercase and capital letters!
NOW IT’S TIME TO LEARN LETTERS
You are full of great ideas and awesome alphabet activities, plus you have insights from an early childhood educator on exactly how to teach your child.
So now it’s time to get to work!
Here’s what you should do next:
First grab your copy of the free Preschool at Home Starter Kit so you’ll have some great teacher created tools to get you started.
Next, consider if you want to hit the easy button with the Ultimate Alphabet Learning Kit. You definitely need to check it out here before you make a decision.
Then just choose an activity from this post and get started! Happy letter learning!