how to teach the alphabet, letters

How to Teach the Alphabet: Mixing Things Up a Bit!

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Think back to the time you were first learning to read, it was probably a bit more difficult!

You have practiced your reading skills for years now and reading this article takes very little, if any, extra thought.

Learning the alphabet is a fundamental part of the early reading experience.

alphabet letters

As a reader, you have mastered the letters and figured out how things flow together to make a word or sentence.

Our hope moving forward is to use the knowledge we have gained to help the children in our lives have even better experiences in their learning and growth.

During my time as a teacher I helped a lot of students with their alphabet letters. If we were to do the same drill practice over and over again, the student’s attention would be completely lost.

Repetition is key to learning something new, but boredom doesn’t have to be!

I’ll share a few ideas on how to teach the alphabet while spicing things up. Something to keep in mind for the future is that these ideas can also work well with practicing sight words.

How to Teach the Alphabet

Now That’s Magnetic!

Magnetic letters can be a really fun way to practice letter recognition and matching.

These could be used at home on the alphabet lettersfridge or at school on a magnetic whiteboard, or really anywhere you have something magnetic!

I would suggest choosing 4-5 letters to focus on at a time, including at least 1 letter the child is already familiar with.

A few recommendations:

  • Place the letters side by side at the top of the board. Say the name or sound (depending on what you are working on) and have the child slide the correct letter down while repeating the name or sound.
  • Invite the child to match uppercase and lowercase letters by moving the magnets around to be placed next to each other.
  • Ask the child to choose a letter, say the name or sound, and move it down.
  • As they master more letters you can have them start creating short 2-3 letter words using the letters they know. IE. it, and, is, as
Click here to see Magnetic Alphabet Letters and Numbers Review

Salty or Sweet?

This activity is a creative way to change things up when a child may be getting tired of writing their letters over and over again with a pencil and paper.

Put salt or sugar in a flat container (I used plastic pencil boxes) and let the child write a letter using their finger. After they finish the letter, shake it gently back and forth and then it’s ready to go for the next one.

Who knew that drawing without a writing utensil could be so fun?! Note: I used salt because the kids were less tempted to lick their fingers and eat it;)

Whiteboard Magic

Children love markers. Every time we’d pull out the individual whiteboards/markers they would get excited! It puts a little twist whiteboard and markerson the standard paper/pencil practice.

You can say the name or sound of a letter and have them write the correct letter on their whiteboard.

Another variation would be to say a word and have them recognize the first, middle, or last sound and write that letter down.

After they have become more proficient with the letters they can write short words that help them practice blending the letter sounds together (similar to the additional activity writing words with the magnets).

Shaving Cream Galore

Most children like to get their hands dirty. They like to explore things using their touch sense. Why not use that to their advantage and yours?

This one can be used in similar ways as the salt/sugar idea.

Put some shaving cream on a desk or table and let the kids get their fingers involved in the alphabet learning! They can easily write the letters and then “erase” by re-spreading the shaving cream to write a new letter.

Dot to Dotdot to dot letters

Forming the letters can prove to be a difficult task for some kiddos. At times just having something to guide them can make a big difference.

A quick and easy way to provide that help can be in a dot-to-dot format.

There were many times I took a piece of paper and quickly ‘wrote’ out a letter or word in dots and then had the child trace over my dots to fill in the letter or word.

As they get more comfortable writing the letter by themselves they can then branch out and write independently.

 

Rainbow Write

Like I mentioned before, repetition is an important part of a learning experience.

Yet writing the same letter over and over on a paper in front of you can get really boring really fast.

Rainbow write adds a splash of color to the dull look of a pencil on paper.

The child writes the letter in one crayon color then writes over it in a different color and then again in another color.They can continue this process using as many colors as they’d like (or as many as you suggest- some could keep at it for days;))

By the end it has grown in size a bit and may look a tad messy, but the child has just practiced writing that letter at least 3 times and thought it was fun!

a k m

Playdough

Playdough is definitely a favorite among children.

In this case it can provide another enjoyable way to practice the letters of the alphabet. Just give the child (or children) a good amount of play dough and let them form the letters by rolling and shaping it.

The play dough makes it easy to squish back together and try another one.

They can have fun creating uppercase and lowercase letters and you could even have them create something that starts with a certain letter. IE. A snake for /s/ or dog for /d/.

playdough

Wrap it Up

All of these activities can be done with one child or a group of children depending on your needs.

Reading can be a daunting task, but as we use the right tools and activities it can be completely attainable!

Mastering the letters of the alphabet will open a whole new world of reading words, phrases, sentences, and stories.

Oh the adventures that await the eager reader! I hope these activities will lead to even more memorable learning experiences!

How To Teach The Alphabet on Biteable.

 

Have you found other fun ways to liven up teaching the alphabet? Please share your comments or questions below!

Click Here to see Magnetic Alphabet Letters and Numbers Review

Click Here to Check out Educational Toys for 6 Year Olds

Click Here to read how Educational Toys Make Learning Fun!

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12 thoughts on “How to Teach the Alphabet: Mixing Things Up a Bit!”

  1. This is such a great post I will be sure to share it with my preschool teacher friends. I am an online English teacher and I love the salty and sweet Idea. I also like to use the rainbow technique when they are learning to write the letters it makes it more fun for them. Thank you for sharing

    Reply
    • Please do share it with others! I’m glad you found a new idea to use. It is so helpful when teachers can collaborate and share ideas. Yes, the rainbow technique changes it up enough to make it exciting for the kids. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck with teaching English online!

      Reply
  2. I love your post! Such great (and easy) ideas for helping children learn! My son absolutely loves whiteboards as well. I will definitely do rainbow write with him as he is obsessed with rainbows and putting the colors in the right order. Thanks!

    Reply
    • It sounds like a good combination for success! I’m sure your son will enjoy doing rainbow write, he already has a game plan of which colors to use;) I also enjoy fun and easy ideas to help kiddos learn. Who has the time to spend hours preparing?! Good luck moving forward!

      Reply
    • I also love the rainbow write idea for my preschooler.
      Have you ever tried putting letters on the floor for kids to walk or jump on? We have these 1’x1′ foam puzzle letters covering a portion of our playroom floor and my preschooler started jumping from letter to letter as she said their names. I joined in and we had a blast! Maybe we’ll do it again with saying their sounds.

      Reply
      • I used some similar letters in my classroom, the kids loved them. I hadn’t thought of having them jump from letter to letter saying the names and sounds, that sounds like a lot fun! I’m sure your kiddo would absolutely love having you join in!

        Reply
  3. You must have been a GREAT teacher! I know my children would love someone who is this creative with learning!

    The world needs more teachers willing to think outside of the box!

    This is great stuff! I have a very active, must always be moving child. I bet he’d LOVE the shaving cream activity!

    Reply
    • Thank you! I have learned a lot through working with other teachers and sharing ideas. Children definitely like to have fun mixed in with learning, it helps things stick better;) I’d say give the shaving cream activity a go with your son!

      Reply
  4. I taught all three of my daughters to read at a very young age, prior to kindergarten. I used a phonetic reading home course like Hooked on Phonics, that had little awards, sticker badges, and small books that took them from learning letter sounds and names to putting letters together to make words. The books progressed from beginner to advanced reader. Teaching them to read phonetically is the best method because they can easily sound out new words they come across over their lifetime. Whereas, the whole word language forces kids to memorize the look and sound of each word, placing them at a disadvantage when presented with new words since they did not learn to sound out letters.

    Reply
    • I agree! Learning how to decipher words according to the letters and sounds and not solely relying on memorization is very important for children to become successful readers. That is great you were able to find a nice program to teach your daughters!

      Reply
  5. My daughter is 4 and doesn’t enjoy writing her name anymore on the white board because they won’t let her trace anymore. So having to look at the letters and on her own form the letter makes her really frustrated that it doesn’t look right.
    At home I try to get her to take time out of the day to practice forming the letters in her name, but she’d rather play with her toys. So what helped one day was in the midst of playing with her animal toys, I used a bunch of them to form the letter ‘M’ and asked her what letter she saw. She answered correctly and we did 3 more letters, then went back to playing. She didn’t want to form any letters herself yet, but perhaps the next day.

    Reply
    • I think what you did was perfect! If you can disguise the teaching while playing, then your daughter will likely respond with more enthusiasm. You could even try having her write letters with her meals or snacks, for example using cheerios or gold fish. Please share any other fun ways you discover!

      Reply

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