400

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.
  2. Children who can easily name the letters of the alphabet have an easier time learning to read.
  3. As they learn the letter names, children tend to be more motivated to discover more about the letters and words around them.

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!

how to teach the alphabet pinterest graphic

Share This:

< Previous Post  Next Post >

Leave a Comment

Ms. Coleen

says:

Thanks for all the great information! I have found (after 26 years of working with preschoolers) there is no one way to teach every child. With my own, I taught my oldest all caps. My brother is dyslexic and I was worried. My next child picked up the lower case without being introduced (maybe having an older sibling helps). They both caught on quickly to the lower case a and g (as seen here), as well as to different fonts. I have had students call letters different names and at age 3 that is part of the process… “up down up down or down up down up”. I had to THINK that one through… “You mean an M or a W?” Sing songs, read books and make it fun. YOU will learn new things in the process!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Ms. Coleen!

I kind of love the “up down up down or down up down up” way of describing letters. I find it wonderful how little ones’ minds work. 😊

Duger Thomas

says:

Upper case of letters

Daniela

says:

I put an emphasis on uppercase with my preschooler but exposed her to lowercase letters too. Lowercase letter reversals were an issue.

Jane Newman

says:

I have a daycare in my home, I have always started with A, B, C, should I be mixing it up like D, L, Z?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jane,
Either way is fine! Our Pre-reading program introduces letters alphabetical order.

What matters more is how you review, especially after students lean more than a few letters. It is important to review both in alphabetical order and out of order so that students are actually learning the letters and not just learning ABC order.

Does this make sense? Let me know if you have additional questions.

Summer Snow

says:

So excited for this program thanks so much

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are very welcome, Summer! 😊

Vikki

says:

Well done

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Vikki!

Bassey . E. Bassey

says:

Down to earth and very educative. Wonderful work. Thanks.

Ashley

says:

Thank you. I always knew you were supposed to teacher upper case then lower case, however I didn’t know why. That makes a lot of sense and will help me with my son.

Fale Tomane

says:

thank you.
Ive downloaded the tactile cards and building blocks. My almost 5 year old twins are still struggling with letter recognition.
Their teacher just told me today that they’re behind with their letters, word recognition etc..Im beyond concerned. Last year, their pre-shool opened for only 2 weeks of the last term, closed for 8 weeks due to the measles outbreak in our country. Now covid-19, kids have been at home for such a long time. They were only at school at the beginning of this term, 3 weeks then it closed again. Has just reopened for 2 weeks now, but only for 3 days of the week until the State of Emergency is lifted, so of course they would be behind!!! They provide some work for the children but just not the same. Am now going through information online for some strategies that i can do at home. Full time Mum of twins who love coloring, drawing, role playing etc..
Will try and let you know how its going.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Fale,
I think you will find the many activities in this blog post and on this blog helpful. Playful learning will help your children learn the alphabet and more! But if you need more ideas or have specific concerns, please let me know.

Bernice Essel

says:

We do start the alphabet with the lower case but will try the upper case this time and also download fun activities as well.
i say i big thank you and hoping to learn more so that i can also help my kids especially when we get to the reading part.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Let me know if you have questions or need anything, Bernice. 😊

Christina

says:

These are wonderful ideas that I am looking forward to teaching my second child. I wish I had known of this product when teaching my oldest, i think it would have been easier for her to learn.

Evangeline

says:

These are great resources thank you. I look forward to using them!

Michelle

says:

I love the variety of tactile learning. These activities look like lots of fun. Thank you for sharing them.

Dee

says:

Great ideas as we start learning the alphabet with our preschooler!

Tracy Pepmeier

says:

Thanks for the ideas! These will be fun for my preschooler!

Becky

says:

I cant wait to use the feed the puppy game with my preschooler. I almost didn’t download it because I dont have a colored printer. Im so happy I did, now I see there is a black and white version I can use. She will love this thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope your little one has a lot of fun feeding the puppy, Becky! 😊

Bethany

says:

Starting with my last and looking forward to making it fun for her. Thank you for these amazing fun resources!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Bethany. Have lots of fun helping your youngest learn!

Vickie Mckee

says:

What is a a easy way to teach there letters and numbers

Shazra

says:

Very helpful. Thankyou for the resources.

Amanda

says:

I love these ideas, especially the tactile letters! What a great way to engage kids through multiple senses!

April

says:

I Love This! And will definitely use some of these tools…we are working on letter sounds!

I read a lot about doing sounds first and would love more info on which to do first and why…based on this post looks like you do names first?

Thank you for your resources!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

April,
Marie Rippel, the author and founder of All About Learning Press, did extensive research on scientific studies on letter learning. (The appendix of the Pre-reading level contains a list of some of the research sources she used.) What the research showed was that children who know the names of the letters have three major advantages:

1. Kids will learn the sounds of the letters much more easily. By contrast, children who don’t know the letter names often have much more difficulty in learning the sounds of the letters.

2. Children who can easily name the letters of the alphabet have an easier time learning to read.

3. As they learn the letter names, children tend to be more motivated to discover more about the letters and words around them.

Because of these findings, she wrote the Pre-reading level to teach letter names first. The Pre-reading level goes through the alphabet three times, first capital letters, then lower case, then learning letter sounds. This incremental approach is very helpful for many children. However, some children do fine with learning capital, lower case, and sound of a letter together, say a letter a week.

If you would like the list of research sources, let me know.

April Holley

says:

Thank you!

Adebisi Babayemi

says:

I will spend some time getting familiar with All About Learning Press. I will try the Alphabet Picture Book.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Adebisi,
Please let me know if you need more information or have questions about All About Learning Press. I’m happy to help!

Adebisi Babayemi

says:

I am glad I found All About Learning Press

Rachael

says:

My son is currently ready for Level 4. We have loved this program! My daughter just completed the PreK level and just started Level 1. Both kids are doing so great with decoding and loving to read!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great to hear, Rachael! I love that they are loving to read. 😊

Michelle

says:

I love all of your material and my sons enjoy this approach as well. Thank you so much. Will be sharing this will all my friends for there kids as well.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing our resources, Michelle! 😊

Heidi

says:

I love the alphabet progress chart! That will be great to use with my younger two. Thank you!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Heidi! Progress charts of all kinds can be very motivating to many children.

Amanda

says:

Such great ideas & creative ways to help my preschooler learn the alphabet! Thanks so much!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re so welcome, Amanda! I hope you find lots for your little one to learn from and enjoy.

Melanie Lustgarten

says:

My daughter loves the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom book – it has really improved her recognition of the lowercase alphabet.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I think I loved Chicka Chicka Boom Boom more than even my kids did, Melanie! Such a fun book. 😊

lucy praise

says:

How do I get the Chima chika boom boom book?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lucy,
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a popular picture book for young children written by Bill Martin and John Archambault and illustrated by Lois Ehlert. It widely available through libraries and book sellers, including Amazon.com.

Stacey Wyatt

says:

This would be awesome! I’ve been trying to find something to help my youngest along with reading. This seems to be colorful and like there are levels instead of grade choices!

Bethany

says:

Thank you for the information and great resources! Question- Is there a preferred order to introduce letters? Do you start with vowels, the letters in the child’s name, or start at the beginning of the alphabet?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great question, Bethany.

The answer is not really. Our Pre-reading program teaches letters in alphabetical order to take advantage of the alphabet song and to reinforce alphabetical order. However, our All About Reading level 1 program reteaches letters out of order to allow students to be able to read words when just four letters are learned. It starts with M, S, P, and A so students can read map, Pam, sap, Sam, and am.

I do encourage you to spread the vowels out, however. The sounds of the E and I particularly can be confusing, so having space between learning one and then the other is helpful.

Starting with the letters of the child’s name can be very motivating and exciting for a child as it makes the letters very personal. Then you could move onto another family member’s name and then another until most of the alphabet is covered and then you finish with the few left. However, it would be very likely that the child will run into a sound or sounds that aren’t the sounds you are teaching for letters. For example, if the child’s name is Dave he may wonder why the A in his name doesn’t say the short /ă/ sound and why the E in his name doesn’t say a sound at all. This could cause confusion for some children.

Another method is to teach letters that have similar construction together to be easier for the child to learn to write them. This would be capital A, E, F, H, M, and other straight-lines-only letters first before adding in letters with curved lines. Then the same is done, but with a different order, for lower case. For example, the handwriting program Handwriting Without Tears teaches lower case c and then teaches all the letters that start with the same stroke: a, d, g, o, and q.

Whatever way you choose, be sure to provide enough time when each new letter is learned for it to be mastered. This could be one day per letter for some children or a week per letter for others. And then spend a couple of minutes reviewing all the letters learned so far each day to keep them fresh in the child’s mind.

I hope this helps some.

Leave a Comment