It’s no secret that there is a link to writing and learning how to read. It’s also no secret that preschoolers gravitate toward fun learning activities. That’s where alphabet letter formation activities come in, like these alphabet beginning sound cards. They’re not just for tracing or coloring. Read all three ways to add these letter tracing worksheets to your writing center in preschool.
Alphabet Letter Formation Activities Using Tracing Cards
Some preschoolers take to the pencil early and with ease, seamlessly transitioning through all the stages of writing. They seem to have a knack for learning the alphabet and forming letters just the right way.
This is not the case for many preschoolers. Learning to write letters isn’t easy for many. For some preschoolers, it doesn’t come easily or naturally at all. They find the task of writing letters overwhelming and laborious.
Since learning the alphabet is such a big step for preschoolers, so is learning to write letters. They go hand in hand. Research shows that there is a direct connection between learning to read and the ability to form letters and write. [source]. This means that any high-quality preschool program is going to teach, and allow ample practice, in both letter recognition and sounds in correlation with forming letters.
There are loads of studies that support this claim however, so does my own teaching experience.
One of my own sons used to be a struggling reader. As a kinder student, he was bright and curious, and he loved school. He progressed as any kinder teacher would expect through the big-box company curriculum, effortlessly learning all the letters and sounds, as well as all the phonemic awareness skills.
But as the end of his kindergarten year approached, he could read few cvc words without stopping to decode, and he could read even fewer sight words. His reading sounded like this.
” I /k/ /a/ /n/ /s/ /i/ /t/ /o/ /n/ the /m/ /a/ /t/.”
See the problem here? Not only was he trying to decode high-frequency words, but since he had to stop and decode every single word in a sentence, his comprehension relied strictly on the picture in the decodable.
Watching my son struggle was not easy, so I went back to my college textbooks and searched the internet for the most recent, most reputable sources about how to help struggling readers. And there was something I kept coming across in my reading…the connection between reading and writing, which for my son had been the missing component to his reading instruction.
That launched the creation of my alphabet letter formation activities found in my preschool literacy centers. And it also caused me to reevaluate the importance. of writing practice in preschool.
3 Alphabet Letter Formation Activities
These letter formation cards can be used in three different ways, and the skill level of your student will determine which instructional approach you take.
Finger Tracing Letter Formation Activity
When you introduce a new letter of the alphabet to your preschooler, you also introduce the letter formation order when writing that letter — even if you aren’t actually practicing writing the letter. For example, you might have your preschooler write the letter in the air following your direction, or you might have your preschooler trace a sandpaper letter.
I do both those activities and then follow it up with a letter tracing card like these and I invite my preschooler to first practice tracing the letter with their finger. There are any number of chants you can add to the process. I prefer to use the Handwriting Without Tears method.
Big line down, frog jumps up, big line down, little line.
Magic c, up like a helicopter, bump back down and turn.
Finger tracing is especially good for toddlers and young preschoolers who are still learning the basic feel of letter formation, but all preschoolers and kindergarten students who are learning to write will benefit from alphabet letter formation activities like this one.
You Might Also Like These Alphabet Letter Formation Activities for Your Centers
Just click the images below to learn more.
Dry Erase Letter Tracing, Followed by Finger Tracing to Erase
These beginning sound letter formation cards can also be placed into a dry erase pocket for lots of repeated practice. Preschoolers follow the directions for forming the letters on the card, perhaps say the Handwriting Without Tears chant (or other comparable letter formation chant) while writing with a dry erase marker. Add a second practice by having your preschooler use his finger to erase the marker, using the same letter formation.
I have my preschoolers say the letter chants every single time. From my experience, when preschoolers start the transition from tracing to copying, the chants help remind them where to begin each letter on their paper.
Alphabet Letter Tracing and Coloring with Crayons
The final step is inviting your preschooler to use crayons to color the pictures on each card and trace the letters. These alphabet tracing cards can also be used for rainbow writing, which is a common and well-used letter formation activity that gives preschoolers and kindergarten students even more practice in writing. Rainbow writing is when the same letter is practiced multiple times using different colors of crayons. You can read more about rainbow writing in this post. It shares all the details of how to teach preschoolers to rainbow write.
The number of times you want your preschooler to practice the letter will determine the number of colors needed. I typically choose between 3-6 times. Three times if the preschooler is practicing several letters. Six times if they are practicing only a few letters at a time.
Finally, your preschooler can color the images on the letter formation tracing cards.
Make Alphabet Letter Formation Activities Even More Fun
When I introduce new letters to my preschoolers, I follow the system I outline above.
- finger tracing
- dry erase, then finger tracing
- rainbow writing
If you have a preschooler who isn’t expressing any interest in learning to write, or if you have a young preschooler, try some of these tips:
- Trace the letter yourself with a dry erase marker and invite your toddler to eraser your lines with her finger.
- Use a cheap knit mitten as an eraser for dry erase markers.
- When tracing the letter, say the letter name over and over, or say the letter sound again and again.
- Use these letter formation cards with other letter building activities.
Get Your Free Alphabet Letter Formation Cards Here
Think these alphabet letter formation activities are something your preschooler or kinder student will respond to? You can grab your own free copy by clicking the image below and it will be sent to your email.
Do You Want Number Formation Tracing Cards, too?
Check out this post to grab your free number formation tracing cards!
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.