Fun Ideas for How to Teach the Alphabet
As a Pre-K teacher, I’m always looking for new ideas on how to teach the alphabet to my preschoolers. Hands-on alphabet activities are my favorites! This post includes 10 fun ideas for teaching the alphabet. Try them with your students and watch their letter knowledge soar!
Tried and True Ideas for Teaching the Alphabet
1. Start with the Letters in their Names
If you really want to know how to teach the alphabet to your preschoolers, begin with the letters in their names. Children are eager to learn their own names and they encounter their written names frequently.
Begin by teaching them the letters in their own names first. If they can’t get all the letters in their names, heavily focus on the beginning letter of their name.
One of the first activities we do in small groups is a fine motor sticker activity with the first letter of their name. They fill in the letter with stickers. The children love it, and it gives them a solid understanding of what “their letter” looks like and the name of their letter.
Another activity I do with students to practice only the letters in their names is name puzzles. We talk about how their name starts with a capital letter and has lower case letters in the rest of the name. Pictures on the puzzle give support for children who can’t figure out the letter order. I also write students’ names on the front of the envelope to give them something to refer back to for support.
2. Read Lots of ALPHABET BOOKS
Alphabet books are one of my favorite tools for teaching my preschoolers the alphabet. There are so many fabulous alphabet books available now. You can find books to go with your monthly themes like dinosaurs or Christmas. There are even alphabet books that teach content like flower names or types of animals.
No matter what else is on our bookshelf at any given time, you will always find alphabet books there as well. Read this post to discover some of my favorite alphabet books.
3. Sing the Alphabet Song
Singing the alphabet song is a great way to teach preschoolers the alphabet. However, don’t just sing the song. Point to each letter on an alphabet chart as you sing it. Pointing out the letters will show children exactly what you mean when you say “A, B, or C”.
You’ll also want to slow down a bit as you sing. You know that most children zip through the middle of the alphabet so that it becomes “elmenop” instead of L, M, N, O, and P. Slowing down and carefully pronouncing each letter, while pointing it out, is a great way to teach the alphabet.
You can download a FREE Alphabet Sound Chart at the end of this post.
More Fun Ideas for Teaching the Alphabet
4. Provide Multi-Sensory Experiences
Multi-sensory experiences are another idea if you’re trying to figure out how to teach the alphabet to your preschoolers. By engaging various senses, children will master letters much more quickly and easily.
Let children write or trace the letters of the alphabet using various materials like cool whip, shaving cream, or salt. Have children form the letters using play-doh. These free playdoh letter mats are fun to use and provide a multi-sensory alphabet experience kids will love.
You can even make tactile letters out of felt, sand paper, or other textured materials to provide a sensory alphabet experience. Check out this DIY tutorial for making your own!
5. Use Picture Cues with Letters
To teach children the alphabet, I like to use picture cues for each letter. If you use a set curriculum, your program may include alphabet flash cards that go with the program. Use those cards consistently. As children see the letter and picture that go together, they will quickly develop an association between the letter, its sound, and an object that begins with that letter.
For instance, for the letter A, I hold up a flash card with an apple and the letter a printed on it. I lead my students in chanting “A, apple /a/“. Until they have a solid understanding of the letter A and its sound, I don’t introduce additional pictures like alligator or ant. As they get more familiar with the letter, I begin introducing additional picture cues.
When using picture cues to teach the alphabet, be sure you use pictures that represent the true sound of the letter. For instance, to teach the letter O, I use an octagon. Don’t use an owl or an orange because those words don’t make the /o/ sound. Be selective in choosing pictures if you really want success in teaching the alphabet.
6. Use Alphabet Puzzles
Looking for more ideas on how to teach the alphabet to your preschool students? Try using alphabet puzzles. This chunky wooden letter puzzle is my favorite to use in my Pre-k clasroom.
There are so many fun ways to use alphabet puzzles. Wrap the letters up and have children unwrap them. Have children close their eyes and choose a puzzle piece from a bag. Ask them to feel the letter and see if they can guess what it might be based on its features.
Alphabet puzzles are great for helping children learn alphabetical order as well as helping to teach them the alphabet itself. If you need even more ideas, click here to get a FREE DOWNLOAD filled with fun alphabet puzzle extension ideas.
7. Use Magnetic Letters
Magnetic letters have been around forever, and there’s a good reason for that! They’re such a fun way to explore the alphabet. Children love using magnet wands, so place some magnetic letters in a sensory bin full of colorful rice. Have children find the letters using the magnet wand. Add in a recording page and have children mark off (or write) each letter as they find it…and you have an instant center!
Fishing for magnetic letters is also a fun way to teach the alphabet in preschool. Children can sort magnetic letters—capital vs. lower case, letters with tails and those without tails, letters with holes and those without holes. Find lots of magnetic letter activities on this post.
4 Final Ideas for How to Teach the Alphabet
8. Add Music and Movement
Preschoolers love to sing and dance. There are so many fun alphabet videos available now on Youtube. I especially love Jack Hartmann’s videos. He has videos that focus on letter sounds, letter formation, and more. Check out this blog post to see my favorite alphabet videos available on YouTube.
Every day while we’re using the restroom and getting ready for lunch, my class watches Heidi Songs’ Letter Sound Song. The motions, colorful pictures, and catchy tunes captured their attention from day one. And even though we watch part of the video every single day, they never get tired of it. They sing just as enthusiastically every day!
Alphabet songs and dances are truly a fun way to teach the alphabet in preschool. Best of all, this is an easy tool to use in teaching the alphabet to your little learners.
9. Make Alphabet Treasure Boxes
Alphabet treasure boxes are another alphabet activity preschoolers love. Gather tiny treasures (buttons, small toys, miniature objects) that begin with a given letter. Place them in a box labeled with the letter itself. Children love to explore the items, name the items, and make the letter sound.
If you can’t find miniature objects, you can always place pictures of the objects in your alphabet treasure box. I also like to place multiple copies of the focus letter itself—in various fonts—inside the box. In fact, I made alphabet treasure boxes for my class using this resource packet.
10. Go on Letter Hunts
One final fun idea for how to teach the alphabet to preschoolers is to take them on letter hunts. Choose a focus letter for the day and have children search high and low for that letter. In a classroom, you could hang the letter beside the door so they see it on their way out.
At small group time, you could have children take a magnifying glass around the school and search for the focus letter. Perhaps you could teach them the sign language sign for that letter and when they spot the letter around the school they can make that sign.
Best of all, parents can even use this strategy on errands. Let children take a picture with your cell phone when they spot the letter in the wild. Or record it on their recording page. At the end of the day, they can count the pictures or count how many times they recorded the letter to see how many times they spotted it.
If you want to try this activity with your little learners, check out this packet. They will have so much fun spotting letters in the wild!
More Ideas for How to Teach the Alphabet
Check out my Deluxe Alphabet Intervention Kit for even more fun, hands-on alphabet activities!