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How to Teach the Alphabet to Preschoolers

Is your preschooler ready to learn the alphabet? If so, this post is for you! Jam-packed with letter recognition activities designed to help you teach the alphabet, this post contains enough fun to keep your child busy for months!

Read on to discover more about this valuable pre-reading skill for young children, or scroll down to download eight of our free, top-quality letter recognition activities.

Dog looking at the letter T

What Is Letter Recognition?

Letter recognition—also known as alphabet recognition—is the ability to:

  • distinguish between the 26 letters of the alphabet
  • say the letter name

If your child already knows “The Alphabet Song,” that is a great start! But there is more to letter recognition than being able to sing the ABCs. You want your child to be able to pick out the individual letters and name them, and that’s where the downloadable activities that follow really shine.

Advantages of Learning the Letter Names

Children who know the names of the letters have three major advantages:

  1. Kids who know letter names will learn the sounds of the letters much more easily. By contrast, children who don’t know the letter names often have tremendous difficulty in learning the sounds of the letters.1
  2. Children who can easily name the letters of the alphabet have an easier time learning to read.2, 3
  3. As they learn the letter names, children tend to be more motivated to discover more about the letters and about the words around them.4, 5, 6

So you know that teaching the letter names is important, but now you may be wondering…

Should Uppercase or Lowercase Letters Be Taught First?

Puppy looking at letters E

Developmentally, it will be easier for your child to learn capital letters first. That’s because the visual form of the capital letters is more distinct. Take a look at this row of capital letters:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

The only letters that could be flipped and mistaken for another letter are M/W.

Now take a look at this row of lowercase letters:

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

With the lowercase letters, there are several pairs of letters that could be flipped.

Letter d morphing into letters b, p, and q
  • b/d (flip on the vertical axis)
  • b/p (flip on the horizontal axis)
  • d/p (flip on the horizontal and vertical axis)
  • p/q (flip on the vertical axis)
  • n/u (flip on the horizontal and vertical axis)

So that’s why I recommend starting with the “easier” uppercase letters.

But what about the fact that most text is composed of lowercase letters? After all, this sentence has 57 letters, and only one of them is uppercase. Doesn’t it stand to reason that kids should learn the lowercase letters first?

The fact is that your child will learn all of the letters–uppercase and lowercase–before he learns to read. So why not start with the letter form that is easiest to learn?

Honestly though, it isn’t critical. If you want to teach lowercase letters first, that is fine. Just be aware that some kids do mix up those letters mentioned above. (And here’s help if your child already reverses similar letters such as “b” and “d”.) The most important thing is that your child has an enjoyable introduction to the alphabet, and that she can recognize the letters with confidence.

Now let’s dig in to the fun stuff!

Here Are 8 Free Letter Recognition Activities You Can Download!

3-page spread of ABC Building Blocks activity download

Creating the Alphabet with Building Blocks

Creating the alphabet with colorful bricks is a fun way for preschoolers to become more familiar with letters and enjoy a favorite playtime activity—building!

3-page spread of ABC Playdough Mats activity download

ABC Playdough Mats

Crafting letters out of playdough allows children to feel the alphabet as they roll and bend the dough to form the letters. Your child may not even realize he’s learning!

3-page spread of ABC Caterpillar activity download

ABC Caterpillar

As your child inches his way through the alphabet with this colorful caterpillar, he’ll get plenty of hands-on alphabet play, including putting letters in alphabetical order.

3-page spread of ABC Bracelets activity download

ABC Bracelets

Your little one will admire her “letter of the day” every time she glances at her wrist. And tomorrow she’ll get a brand new bracelet to “show off” to family and friends!

3-page spread of Tactile Letter Cards Activity download

Tactile Letter Cards

Children learn about the world around them through their senses. Our tactile letter cards let children use their sense of touch to learn about uppercase and lowercase letters.

3- page spread of Fabric Alphabet download

Make Your Own Fabric Alphabet

Playing with the alphabet is a great way to help your preschooler get ready to read. This easy-to-make, soft, and colorful alphabet turns learning letters into a tactile activity.

3-page spread of Feed the Puppy Alphabet Game download

“Feed the Puppy” Alphabet Game

Our “Feed the Puppy” Alphabet Game lets kids practice the names of the letters in a super-fun way. After all, who doesn’t love learning with a cute puppy?

Alphabet Picture books library list 3-page spread

Alphabet Picture Books

Alphabet picture books are the perfect way to increase letter knowledge. No crafty mess required! All you need are books, a comfy couch, and a cuddly preschooler.

These activities will give your child hours and hours of fun while helping prepare him for formal reading instruction.

Keep Track of Which Letters Your Child Knows

When you are teaching letters to your child, make sure that you get to the end of the alphabet. This may seem obvious, but all too often, young children don’t master the last several letters. Be sure that your child knows U, V, and W as well as he knows A, B, and C!

To help you keep track of which letters have been learned, you can download this great little alphabet progress chart. Post it on your fridge or playroom wall.

Downloadable alphabet progress chart

Letter Knowledge Is One of the Big Five Skills

Did you know that there are five skills that your child should master before beginning formal reading instruction? We call them the “Big Five Skills” and these skills lay the foundation for learning to read. In fact, they’re so important that we cover all of them in the All About Reading Pre-reading program.

If you’re ready to tackle the rest of the Big Five Skills, be sure to check out the All About Reading Pre-reading program. Your student will enjoy special games, crafts, and story time read-alouds, and you will love the way your student effortlessly learns essential pre-reading skills.

All About Reading Pre-reading set-up

Which of these letter recognition activities are you going to try out first? Let me know in the comments below!

___________________________________
1. Mason, Jana M. (1980). When do children begin to read: an exploration of our year-old children’s letter and word reading competencies. Reading Research Quarterly, 15, 203-227.
2. Bond , Guy L., and Dykstra, Robert (1967). The cooperative research program in first-grade reading instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 2, 5-142.
3. Chall, Jeanne S. (1967). Learning to read: The great debate. New York: McGraw-Hill.
4. Chomsky, Carol (1979). Approaching reading through invented spelling. In L. B. Resnick and P. A. Weaver (eds.), Theory and practice of early reading, vol. 2, 43-65. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.
5. Mason, Jana M. (1980). When do children begin to read: an exploration of our year-old children’s letter and word reading competencies. Reading Research Quarterly, 15, 203-227.
6. Read, Charles (1971). Preschool children’s knowledge of English phonology. Harvard Educational Review, 41, 1-34.

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Leave a Reply

Tammie

says:

I really need help with my five year whose about to turn six with letters sounds and words. She’s in kindergarten

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tammie,
I think you may find our How to Teach Phonograms blog post helpful. It goes over how to teach the phonograms (starting with letter sounds) and includes a few printable games for making the review fun! The Helping Kids Sound Out Words article will be informative as well.

However, for a more step-by-step easy to teach method, take a look at All About Reading. You’ll find a helpful video there if you just scroll down a bit.

Let me know if you have questions or need anything else.

Amber qamar

says:

Thank u so much for such a treasure.Be blessed.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Amber!

Opoku Agyemang Prince

says:

Using the alphabet building block

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Are you using the Creating the Alphabet with Building Blocks activity, Opoku? I hope your child or children enjoy it!

Tiffany

says:

My 3 year old has started yelling random letters when he sees words, so I think he’d love some of these activities! His big brother and sister LOVE All About Reading Level 1.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love that your little is so excited about letters that he yells them out, Tiffany! Yes, I do think these activities would please him. It’s great to hear that All About Reading level 1 is working out well for your older children!

JoAnna

says:

Fun ideas! My boys have enjoyed the ABC Building Blocks activity. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, JoAnna! Thank you for letting us know your boys have enjoyed the building blocks activity!

Glenda

says:

I can’t wait to start the Alphabet Bracelet ! That is the greatest. My 4y/o grand daughter loves to wear jewelry. We finished up Homeschool for the year today. So we will take a week off and due to COVID, we will start with just Reading, Math – & Spelling for my 9 y/o Grandson after that. We never stop reading, but we won’t focus on teaching it next week! LOL!
I am also eager to try that hungry little puppy and those tactile letters! All sound terrific!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sounds wonderful, Glenda!

Emily

says:

My son enjoys games, so I think he would enjoy the feed the puppy game.

Benzile Mbethe

says:

Wonderful website with very useful resources. Thank you

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Benzile! I’m pleased you have found the resources useful.

Agatha

says:

Love all the different games you have to reinforce the alphabet in their day.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Agatha!

Laurie A

says:

I’ve heard conflicting things re uppercase vs lowercase, so I loved reading your thoughts and reasoning. Thanks for the resources. Can’t wait to put some of them to use.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Laurie! I hope your child enjoys the activities.

Kristin

says:

Feed the puppy game looks like it will keep my youngest interested in the letters. I love reading all the tips.

B.j

says:

Many great tips here, and I love the printables are available free for those who have printers!

Kristen

says:

Going to print Feed the Puppy tomorrow! I’ve got two that will love it!

Stephanie Watters

says:

I have loved the free resources and games that are supplemental to the pre reading program! My son is 3 days into level 1 and has already read his first short story and now decides any word he sees! So brilliant!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

He is doing so well, Stephanie! Wonderful!

Shannon

says:

Thank you for the Alphabet progress chart. We are already partway through PreReading, but I think he’ll like it so we’ll add it in.

Caroline

says:

We are in love with this program! My son enjoys learning, what else can I ask for.
One of his favorites gsmes right now is Feed the Puppy. :)

Christina Howell

says:

These are great tools!! Thank you for this awesome material!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Christina!

Jessica Morton

says:

Great tips. ?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Jessica.

Jen

says:

I love all the free resources you provide to enrich our AALP journey :)

Melanie

says:

These are great! My son will love feed the puppy!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

The Feed the Puppy activity is one of our most well-loved, Melanie!

Claudia

says:

I absolutely love all the creative options to expand on this curriculum! Thank you!

Carrie

says:

This is great! We will try Feed the Puppy and ABC Playdough Mats first! Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Carrie! I hope you have lots of fun.

Charissa Reed

says:

So many fun ideas. Thank you

Deanna Partridge

says:

The feed the puppy game is so cute!! My three year old will love that! Great idea, thanks!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Deanna!

Melody Fernandez

says:

I work with a student who is nonverbal.Her fine motor skills are not the strongest.She has CP.She is a fighter and like to learn.I need different fun ways to teach her the alphabets.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope you can find things here that are helpful for your student, Melody. Please let me know if you have any questions I can help with.

Dupe Kureh

says:

Creating the alphabets with building blocks.

Amar Singh Bhujel

says:

This is really creative teaching and learning. Thanks a lot mam.

Mary

says:

This is very much helpful. Thanks for this

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re very welcome, Mary!

Regina Grace Ola

says:

Hi, My name is Regina. I just want more ideas for effective way of teaching kids. I am currently working as Teaching Assistant in KG2. I have one student who is very behind in the class. He usually got bored in writing and don’t like to do writing stuff. He start doing silly things once I gave him work to do. Every minute is a battle for me. I am looking for activities that I can engage him to do. Fun but at the same time he is still learning.

Thanks.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m sorry your student is struggling, Regina. School can be taxing to little ones’ attention spans at times.

Were you able to find activities here that may help him? Is there something else you are looking for? Let me know.

Inca King

says:

Inca
Hi, I have a daughter who is almost 12 and we live in South Africa ( almost no school that help with learning issues)
She hates reading, cannot spell and has totally given up on school and just trying. Everyday we have tears and stress, what can I use to help her read and spell!

Thanks