The ABCs of ABCs:
26 Activities for Teaching the Alphabet
Helping kids learn new things, especially the ABCs, can be both fun and creative!
Here are 26 ways to help your child engage their senses for natural learning of the alphabet – what literacy educators call “letter knowledge” – an important building block of learning how to read!
Won’t you talk, sing, read, write, and play with me?
Animals: Use the letters of the alphabet to make animals that begin with the corresponding letter: A is for Alligator!
Blocks: Use a piece of painter’s tape to label one block with the capital letter and one with the lowercase, then help your child match them!
Car Games like “I spy something that starts with the letter…” or naming letters on signs is a great way to talk about letters and pass the time on long trips!
Dot Daubers: Dot along the lines of a letter to learn the shape with polka dots!
Edible Alphabet: Pancakes in the shape of the letter P, a whole plate of food that begins with the letter S: salami sandwiches, salad and samosas. Bringing letters into mealtime is a great way to interact with new letters and flavors!
Frozen letters: Freeze plastic letters in ice and let your little one free them! You can use just the letters in their name and help them line up the sounds in order or you can do the whole alphabet! Individual cubes or one big block – either are fun.
Garden: Create a sensory bin with dried beans and hide veggies and flowers labeled with letters that match their name!
Hide and Seek with letters, that is! A letter hunt is a fun way to learn a new concept. As kids find their letters, help them say their name and sound.
Invisible Letters: All you need is paper, watercolor paint and a white crayon to create magic! Write letters with a white crayon, and then let your child discover the hidden letters as they paint over them! The wax from the crayons will prevent the paint from covering that spot on the paper and your child will be amazed when they’re revealed!
Jump! Write letters on the floor with painter’s tape and have your child jump to the letters you call. You can also do this outside with chalk on the sidewalk.
Kernels: Place corn kernels in a shallow container and let little ones use their fingers to create letters in the corn. This also works great with sand or shaving cream.
Library! Your friendly neighborhood librarian can direct you to books that focus on letter sounds or fun alphabet-focused stories. Build A Reader storytimes at any of our 24 library locations can provide tips and opportunities to talk, sing, read, write and play your way to literacy!
Magnets: Having letters everywhere is a great way to keep them in the forefront of your child’s mind. Magnetic letters are one way to do just that. You can add them to the fridge or you can create fishing type games where kids use other magnets to pull their letters free from water or sand. You can even have your child copy words onto a cookie sheet.
Nature is a great place to engage in conversation and enjoy some letter practice as well. You can write in sand or create letters with sticks, or you can find objects that represent whatever letter you’re learning to love!
Obstacle Course: Engage all of your child’s muscles and embrace gross motor movement by creating an obstacle course. This is especially helpful with active kids. Place letters at one end of the course and their match at the other end. After 26 rounds, maybe they’ll even be ready for a nap.
Pin it! Clothes pins with letters written on them can be used to match onto a piece of cardstock. Your child can match upper to lower case, create words by matching letters or match letter sounds to pictures.
Qwerty jumbles the alphabet: Let your child locate letters on a keyboard, making it a hunt that asks your little one to look closely.
Repetition: Repetition may seem tedious, but your child’s growing brain is hungry for reinforcement of new concepts! Practicing the same letter for a few days (or weeks!) can help with mastery.
Stickers: I’ve never met a child who doesn’t love a good opportunity to play with stickers. You can use simple office supply dot stickers to create a matching game or line the stickers up to create the letter. Not only is this a lot of fun – it’s great for fine motor skills too!
Tactile letters: Engaging with textures are a great sensory option for kids! You can find them made of sandpaper or make your own with found objects around the house and in nature. Pipe cleaners, pebbles and sand can create a tactile wonderland for your little ones!
Unwrap: Wrap up letters in tissue paper or wrapping paper and let your child free them. All the fun of Christmas morning but with the joy focused on literacy!
Vehicles: Kids love cars! Make a road in the shape of a letter and let your kids get the feel of the shape of a letter using their whole body.
Window paint: Window paint can be made by mixing equal parts washable acrylic paint and dish soap. It washes right off with a baby wipe. You can use masking tape to create negative space with the letters or help your little one write the letters on your window. This is one of my little one’s very favorite activities!
X-Ray: You can create a light box with Christmas lights in a clear plastic container or you can use natural lights from the window to look at your letters. Make classic black by cutting letters into black paper, or you can use colorful tissue paper to create letters on contact paper.
You! Let your child watch you read and write. As you model this behavior, your child will see the benefit of learning letters.
Zoo: A trip to the zoo can be an excellent opportunity to find animals that start with all of the letters of the alphabet. Take photos of your favorites and make your very own zoo alphabet book!
Letter recognition is the foundation of learning to read. The goal of these activities is not perfection but creating an encouraging and exciting atmosphere to gain new skills. By keeping learning fun and interactive, children will be motivated to keep learning and eventually fall in love with reading! Now we know our ABCs!