Looking for some fresh ideas on how to teach the alphabet to preschoolers? If you’re here, you probably are. As preschool teachers and parents we are always looking for new ideas for teaching letters and literacy. We’ve grabbed the most engaging ways to teach the alphabet to preschoolers to make your life easier!
Fun Ideas to Teach the Alphabet to Preschoolers
For many preschool programs, teaching the letters of the alphabet is a primary focus.
I have something to admit.
In my own preschool program, developed by myself and executed in the in-home preschool I’ve owned for the last seven years, I do not focus on teaching the alphabet.
I know what you’re thinking.
I have developed an extensive and comprehensive preschool literacy curriculum that has a strong phonics component. How is it that I can promote said curriculum when I also claim not to focus on letter work?
Teaching children to read includes so much more than just teaching the alphabet. It also includes extensive phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, print awareness, and oral language development.
So when prospective parents come to tour my preschool space and learn about my own preschool program, I emphasize that I expose children to the alphabet, but do not in any way guarantee they will end my program knowing every single letter and sound.
Rather, I guarantee that children will leave my program with a strong foundation in literacy that will prepare them for learning to read. And most importantly, they will leave my program with a strong interest and desire to read and learn.
However, with all that said, it does not mean we don’t spend a fair amount of time playing with letters and learning the alphabet. This is why I’m sharing with you not only my favorite alphabet activities but all my best activities for teaching preschoolers the alphabet.
Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers
Letter recognition activities refer to the ability to visually recognize letters of the alphabet through hands-on learning activities and these have critical importance in early childhood education.
Effective alphabet activities that aid in teaching letter recognition include:
- matching same case letters
- matching uppercase letters with lowercase letters
- naming letters in both cases
- distinguishing between similarly shaped letters like C/G, M/W, d/b, and p/q
There are endless fun ways to teach the alphabet, but here’s a short list of our favorites:
- Letter Scavenger Hunt – using magnet letters or letter cards, hide them around the classroom and encourage children to go on a hunt!
- I Spy Letters – Simple to put together, this I spy game is a fun way to teach uppercase and lowercase letter recognition.
- Alphabet Fishing – using a play magnetic fishing rod, invite children to fish for the letters in the pond. Kids absolutely love this alphabet activity!
- Letter Sensory Bin or Water Play – sensory materials and/or water are a great way to introduce the alphabet. Use rice, shredded paper, or even dried beans and hide magnet or wooden letters inside the sensory bin. Encourage the children to search and name the letters!
- Alphabet Puzzles – Using magnet letters, preschoolers will love matching the upper and lowercase letters to each puzzle piece.
- Alphabet Games – games are a great way to practice the alphabet!
Materials to Teach Letter Recognition
I have hand-picked some great resources for using with preschoolers to help learn the letter names. These items are all hands-on, engaging, and fun ways to teach the alphabet!
Letter Recognition Videos for Preschoolers
Learning the alphabet takes lots of repetition and practice. These fun letter recognition videos will have your preschoolers singing along and building their alphabetic knowledge!
- The Alphabet Is So Much Fun – Learning your ABCs never sounded so good! This fun center-stage style song is a great learning tool for learning the letter names.
- The Alphabet Chant – A great chant for learning the letter names slowly and completely. No rushing through L, M, N, O, P in this song and chant!
- Alphabet Song – Fun and vibrant, this alphabet song will have your preschoolers up and moving along as they sing the letter names!
Don’t Forget the Alphabet Picture Books!
Read alphabet books to your child and you’ll be amazed how quickly they learn the letters of the alphabet. There are literally hundreds available, some even story-like. Invite your child to talk with you about the pictures. Have your preschooler trace the letter on each page, too.
Here are some of our all-time favorite alphabet books by the author Jerry Pallota. Preschoolers love his ABC books because they are centered around a specific theme.
Letter Sound Activities for Preschoolers
Learning letter sounds require practice, practice, practice plus engaging activities and materials.
- Picture Sort – a picture sort is a great way to practice letter sounds and use real-life photos or clip art to make it interesting.
- ABC Crafts – Make an animal out of the letter starting with the same animal sound.
- ABC Environmental Print – Point out letters and their sounds in everyday print, such as product boxes, store signs, and billboards.
- Sidewalk Chalk Hop – Write letters on the sidewalk and invite your preschoolers to hop to the sound you say. Encourage them to write their own letters too!
- Squirt the Letter/Sound – Use those written letters on the sidewalk chalk to play a new game! With a water squirter, invite the children to squirt the letter sounds they hear.
- Interactive Alphabet Books – Learn all the letter sounds with these engaging letter books!
Materials to Teach Letter Sounds
Learning letter sounds takes lots of repetition and engaging materials. I’ve picked the best options for keeping those little ones engaged and learning!
Letter Sound Songs and Videos for Preschoolers
Learning through song, dance, movement, and music is a powerful way to help learn the alphabet… and make it stick! It’s important to only select music and videos that accurately pronounce the letter sounds without adding an extra vowel sound at the end. For example, it’s very common for the letter m to be pronounced as /muh/ instead of the correct sound /mmm/.
We have done the hard work for you and selected only the letter sound songs that are accurate and super fun!
- Learning Letter Sounds – This is such an engaging and active letter sound song and movement video. It helps kids to remember all the sounds and helps associate the letter sound with a movement or action.
- ABC Phonics Song – This cartoon spotlights each letter and says the letter sound many times throughout the song. A very calming introduction to the letter sounds!
- Workout to the Letter Sounds – More Jack Hartmann fun with letter sounds! This fast-paced and energetic video is tons of fun and helps solidify those tricky letter sounds.
Initial Sounds Activities for Preschoolers
When learning the alphabet, initial sound activities focus on the first letter sound of a word. Understanding the sounds in words is essential for emerging readers and writers. When children understand that words are made up of sounds, they are able to connect the letters and sounds to their reading and writing
- Letter Sound Match – grab some items from around the room and write letters on a piece of construction paper. Invite children to match the toy to the initial sound.
- Initial Sound Blackout – Similar to bingo, this is a fun learning game to practice many letter sounds!
- Squirt the Sound – Write chalk letters on the sidewalk. Give the child a word (bat, jet, rug, etc.) and invite the child to use the water squirter to squirt the beginning sound.
- Initial Sound Puzzles – Using puzzles to practice initial sounds is great practice.
- Alphabet Sensory Bin – Using magnet letters and matching pictures, this sensory bin is easy to put together and develops beginning sound knowledge.
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.