How to teach the alphabet to preschoolers

Are you wondering how to teach the alphabet to preschoolers?  Or just looking for ideas?  You’ll find hundreds of ideas for playful learning at The Measured Mom.

My oldest had a fascination for letters before she could talk.  Even though she didn’t even call me Mommy until she was over two, she knew all her letters and added the sounds as soon as she could talk.  Her younger brother picked them up just as quickly.

But it doesn’t work that way for everyone — and when my third little one was pushing three and still knew only a handful of letters, I knew I had to try a different tactic.

In fact, my decision to start a letter of the week study at our house and keep myself accountable was the very reason I began this blog.  I’d like to share some simple ways to teach the alphabet to preschoolers – and direct you to a giant set of resources that will keep it fun!

How to teach the alphabet to preschoolers letter of the week resource the measured mom 590x590 How to teach the alphabet to preschoolers

 

How to teach the alphabet to preschoolers:

1. Read, read, and read.  Read nursery rhymes, rhyming books, picture books and chapter books.  Just READ.  

2. Notice print in the world around you.  Call attention to exit signs, the toothpaste tube, and the Cheerios box.

3. Begin letter learning by helping your child learn the letters of his name.   Before I start a more organized approach to teaching the alphabet to my preschoolers, they learn to recognize the letters of their name.  For many playful ideas for name learning, visit my Name Activities for Preschool Pinterest board.   

4. Teach the alphabet letter by letter.  Not every early childhood teacher uses the Letter of the Week approach; many children learn their alphabet without it (my oldest two did).  But I’ve found that Letter of the Week has been a helpful structure for me when designing learning activities at home.   Even if you use more of a theme or unit approach to teaching preschoolers, you’ll find a huge variety of learning activities in my alphabet archives.   

If you take one or two weeks per letter, you’ll have time to:

4. Keep bringing it back to the whole alphabet.   If we’re doing a lot of meaningful activities, we will keep coming back to the whole alphabet.  If you’re looking for ways to do this, you’ll love my most popular Pinterest board,  Alphabet for Kids.

Follow The Measured Mom’s board Alphabet for Kids on Pinterest.

5. Be flexible.  You may find that after a few months of letter of the week, your child suddenly recognizes every letter.  Awesome! Don’t feel tied to this series.  Pick and choose what (if any) activities you’d like to continue with.  Even if you don’t continue Letter of the Week, your child will still benefit from listening to the many wonderful books I recommend in my alphabet book lists.  You might also enjoy choosing some crafts and process art activities to do each week.  And math activities certainly don’t need to be tied to a particular letter!

4. Keep it fun.  Kids this age learn best through play.  They don’t need fancy flash cards or loads of worksheets.  They need a variety of activities to stimulate their brains and to reach them the way that they learn best.   You know your children better than anyone.  Choose the activities that your child needs — the ones that your child will love.  I’ll provide a big set of ideas for each letter — not so you’ll do every one, but so that you have a lot to choose from when you pick what works best for your kids.

We’re exploring the uppercase alphabet in this order:

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

The only reason I chose to go out of order is because it moves in order from easiest to hardest in terms of letter formation.  Teach the alphabet in whatever order you’d like. 

You can find crafts, books, math connections and more by clicking on these links:

Looking for more alphabet resources?

© 2013 – 2014, The Measured Mom. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Erika says

    Hi Anna!

    I love the A-Z Letter Recognition ideas on your site. I have a question for you. How much time do you spend on each letter? I will be babysitting a preschool aged boy this fall, but only two days per week. Thanks for your help and advice!

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hello, Erika!
      Actually I spend several weeks on a letter, but it’s on and off – and it’s only because I’m creating a big resource for my blog. If I were not blogging, I would say 4-5 days per letter. So I think that doing one letter for two weeks might be a great plan for you!

  2. Daksina says

    Hi, I just came across this website and love all your ideas!!

    Just wondering whether you finished the rest of the alphabet as I was hoping to start A with my little one but can’t seem to find any letters after A.

    Thanks again!

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hello, Daksina! I’m sorry to say that no, we have not gotten past the letter Y, according to the order you see up above. We’ll start to introduce A later this month (I think), but we have not gone in the conventional order for the sake of forming the letters.

      I wish very much I could have this all done for you, but right now the expected completion is late summer/early fall of this year. This is because I share many other things on my blog as well – it also takes quite a bit of time to put the resources together. Apologies, and hope the fall is not too late for you to use some of the things I share!

  3. Amanda says

    Love these ideas and love how you have it all organized, makes it so easy for me to implement! I have a daughter who will be 5 in 2 months and a boy who will be 2 in 1 month so I appreciate seeing how both your little ones projects turn out. That is what makes me want to use your ideas instead of some of the other LOTW plans. Although I plan to use it alongside the original LOTW curriculum at Brightly Beaming (http://letteroftheweek.com/index.html).

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hi Amanda! I’m so glad this is useful for you. I can’t wait until the entire alphabet is done… slowly but surely! Thanks for sharing Brightly Beaming with me. I often refer to her book and song lists, but I see there is more there that can inspire me. I’ll be looking at her site often!

  4. Heather says

    I’m new to all of this teaching in a curriculum way. I will be trying to follow your letter sequence as we learn to write each letter. I just noticed that the sequence is for upper case letters. When do you introduce lower case letters? I don’t want to confuse my 3 year old just yet. I want to try teaching to see if I can do ok with homeschool in the future. I am hoping this will start with good things.

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hi Heather,
      I have not had to introduce lower case letters in an organized way because after my kids start learning capital letters, they naturally start to recognize lower case letters when we see them in books, on signs, on toys, etc. I have not done structured writing practice with my 5 year old, but by the summer before kindergarten I’ll pull out some handwriting pages to help him practice writing them. A great way to teach upper and lower case matching (if a child is not picking them up naturally) is with games. You can find lots of ideas on my Pinterest board. http://www.pinterest.com/themeasuredmom/alphabet-for-kids/ Start simple with just a few letters to match and gradually add more. Let me know if you have more questions!

      • Kelley says

        The letter sound is the most important part of teaching alphabet. Letter formation should be taught a little later. Fine motor skills might be better developed. Please check out the link, it give a breakdown of what to teach, the explanation of why and a good sequence of letters. Of course also include the child’s name letters early on as well. A letter a week is good for mastery. But at preschool level you should include other letters at the same time. It’s about exposure at this age and kids can understand more ham they express. Brain research shows 5-7 letter groups works well for Kindergarten. 3-5 letters at age three, in my opinion for younger kiddos. I’ve been teaching 17 years :)

  5. Megan Diller says

    I’m a preschool teacher (mixed ages 3-5). I am going to TRY to start doing letter of the week activities with my students. So what I gather from reading this post and the comments, you teach letter recognition/sounds in the same order you teach writing the letter (noted above, not in alphabetical order)? So if I would start these activities I should start with the letter E?

    I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for providing these awesome, hands on, and developmentally appropriate activities for FREE! You choose to help teachers by providing FREE resources, thank you!!

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hello, Megan! I actually think it’s okay to teach the alphabet in whatever order you want, but when I started my preschool aged boys were not writing letters yet, so I wanted to keep it doable for them, and this order worked for us. If you do this order you can follow along with me since it will be a while until we get through the entire alphabet. :) But yes, we followed this order for all our alphabet activities. We also talk about the entire alphabet quite often, so this was not confusing for them. I’m so glad you are finding resources here to use! I was a teacher before blogs became big — that would have been helpful!

  6. Robin turner says

    Oh my goodness! Thank you for taking the time to do this! You just made my life easier! :) My daughter just turned 4 and at the beginning of this school year I tried teaching her letters and she wasn’t getting it..now she is really picking it up so this is a great way for me to teach her! Thanks again!

    Robin

  7. says

    hey there just found this post to day! cant believe i ever missed it somehow? anyway, i am starting today on F since we’ve done up until then already in order; then we will continue with the letters of the (2) week(s) in order you recommend! i was just wondering under the Art Journal photo up on the right side bar saying “teach your preschooler to write” within yellow, it doesnt actually click to a post of sorts. Is there a Category covering that? a Tag? Somewhere I could search or should be directed to when clicking that photo?
    THANK YOU AGAIN SO VERY MUCH for everything you share here, your time, energy, and kind expertise!!!!
    jeanine recently posted…Made By JoelMy Profile

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hi, Jeanine! I’m so glad you found me. :) Thanks for reminding me about the journaling picture in my sidebar. I had forgotten to link the post to it, but I’ve done that now. Stay tuned – next week I’m beginning a 10 part series with This Reading Mama on teaching preschoolers and kindergartners to write.

  8. says

    Teaching alphabets to kids is indeed a very difficult task. Thanks for sharing the lovely but very useful points through your blog. I feel reading out, singing or any other form of communication with the toddlers works best in the learning process for your kid.

  9. heidar says

    hi,Anna. I am a very young teacher from IRAN. I do not know how to thank you because of your ways to teach English. I really love you. when I saw your face, I understood that you are great. thanks so much.

  10. says

    Hello!
    I came across your website today looking for guidance for my pre-k room. I am trying to teach them how to recognize and correctly identify the alphabet! It’s pretty hard so I decided to try and teach them but just focusing on 6 letters at a time. I started with A-F. I saw that you do it out of order. I know you’re supposed to but don’t know where to start! Any advice??

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hello, Olga! (Lovely name – it was my grandma’s!) You asked for advice about teaching the alphabet out of order. Personally, the only reason I do that is because I teach letter writing alongside the letter, and I wanted to start with the letters that were easiest to write. B is pretty tough, and it’s the second letter! I don’t think that teaching them in order is a problem if that’s what you want to do. One thing I would say for kids having trouble is to do a lot of open-ended FULL alphabet activities mixed in. For example, hide plastic letters in a tub of rice or oatmeal. They find the letters and then go match them to printables on a table. You can find a ton of whole alphabet activities on my Pinterest board: http://www.pinterest.com/themeasuredmom/alphabet-for-kids/ Does that help?

  11. says

    These are amazing resources that you provide, Anna! I would also like to share that Alphabet Anatomy provides an easy and fun rhyming verse for each letter that helps to teach letter sound, shape, and print formation. I hope you find this helpful in your efforts to teach the alphabet!
    Linda Jones recently posted…Teach Kids How to Write the AlphabetMy Profile

  12. Sadri showkati says

    excuse for my English !
    t am teaching Farsi in Praymery school in Iran.
    I wrot this leter hi 2 risen:
    1- Use from your experient on teaching , espcially class gams.
    2- Develop my English.
    more ever I can explain a bout myself and my experient.

    • Anna Geiger says

      Thank you for writing, Shadri! I am glad you can use what you are finding on my site. Do you have any questions for me?

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hi, Hadeel! Can you tell me what you mean? Do you mean, how can you find the activities? If you click on the colorful letters on this page, they will bring you to links for each letter that will take you to the activities.

    • Anna Geiger says

      You’re very welcome, Pamela! I’m so glad you’ve found my site. I hope you keep following along. :)

  13. Aileen says

    Hi There! great site! I’m glad you are teaching the alphabets in different order. May I offer a suggestion? Diagonals are most difficult. The developmental order for the alphabets should be:
    L, F, E, H, T, I, U, C, O, Q, G, S, J, D, P, B, R, K, A, M, N, V, W, X, Y, Z.

    This is based on the Handwriting Without Tears Program developed and used by Occupational Therapists.

    • Anna Geiger says

      Thanks, Aileen – I like that order too. When we finish with our letters (in a month or so) I’ll list this as another good option.

  14. Liana Daniels says

    hello and good day I work with 3 yr olds and would like to know the best way to teach them the xmas song they ll be singing at this years xmas party …….I know play the song everyday till the concert just needing more info plz thanks for feedback in advance :D

    • Anna Geiger says

      Hello, Liana! I’m afraid I don’t have any special secret for teaching a song to 3-year-olds other than sing it a lot! If you can think of some actions to do while they sing, that can help too.

  15. Kimmie says

    This is a great article – I am not typically of fan of letter of the week because it’s important to teach the letters in context – but you really cover that here. I did do this with my oldest daughter because she was struggling to learn the letters and sounds – that little bit of extra structure really helped her (she became an avid reader above her grade level). I just wanted to add to the list of things to do for letter of the day – cook with the letter of the day – sometimes we made a snack – often it was dinner! I love cooking with kids and it just took that letter learning to one more sense for multi-sensory learning!

    • Anna Geiger says

      Cooking with kids is a great idea to add to alphabet learning… maybe someday I’ll do a series. :) Thanks for commenting, Kimmie!

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