It is my firm belief that there is no one right way to teach the letters as all children learn differently.
When do children learn their alphabet?
There are different definitions of learn the alphabet.
Children as young as age 1 begin to sing the alphabet song.
At age 2, some children can point to a letter and tell you the name.
I’ve even heard of children as young as 3 reading, meaning they blend the letter sounds together to make words.
The fact is, all children learn the letter names and sounds when they are capable and willing.
Most often this occurs between the ages of 4 and 7. If at any time you feel your child is not meeting developmental milestones for any academic area reach out to your child’s pediatrician and express your concerns.
Our VPK (Voluntary Pre Kindergarten) said their goal was to have all children identify the letter names and sounds by the end of the year. Which means, that children entering kindergarten should know some or all of their letter names and sounds.
As a former kindergarten teacher, around half of the children entering my classroom knew a majority of their letter names. A bit fewer knew the letter sounds. Only a few students knew zero letter names and sounds.
How do you know if your child knows their letters?
You may be ready to start working more with letter names and sounds. A quick assessment of your child’s letter knowledge will give you an idea of where they are.
This can be as simple as doing an alphabet puzzle together with your child. Ask them to name the letters as they put the puzzle back together. They identified all 26- fantastic. You just assessed their letter naming knowledge. The next day, ask them to give you the sounds. Make sure to write the data somewhere so that you will be able to remember it and look back on it.
|Capital Letter Assessment and Data Recording Sheet|
You can also used a slightly more formal process of assessment and data recording. When I asses children on their knowledge of the letters I use an alphabet chart that is not in order and I ask the child to say the letter name. If they are able to say the name within 3 seconds, I mark that they know it. This is done the same with the letter sounds. No hints are given. No corrections are made. This is a quick assessment that tells me what letters the child knows and which ones we need to continue learning.
Activities for learning the letter names and sounds
In our home we use a variety of methods and materials for teaching the letter names and sounds. Here are some of our favorites!
Letter Word Walls
Cut each sheet in half vertically so there is only one letter and spaces below it for each sheet.
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Letter Writing Practice
Letter writing practice is SO easy. We just partition a Multipurpose Paper into 4 quadrants by making a line vertical and horizontal that cross in the middle. We write one letter in each of the 4 squares. Then, the child draws a picture to represent a word that begins with that sound in the box. A B for example may have a bear, banana, or basket in the square. As the year progresses, the child starts writing the word and by the end of kindergarten, they write one sentence for each letter daily. This connects the sounds and print together in simple letter writing activity.
Stories to Teach the Letters
The truth is, you do not need a special alphabet book to teach the letters. Any book that you have on your shelf, most likely already has the letters inside it. Don’t point out every letter, but every so often, stop and talk about the letters in the book. Name them. Make their sound. Explain how your child can stretch out the word to hear all the sounds in the word.
If you do want a few alphabet books in your home or classroom library, here are three that we enjoy.
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is by far my kids and kindergarten students favorite. They adore helping me read about the letters climbing to the top, and then saying Chicka Chicka BOOM BOOM with me. Read the reviews here.
- Eric Carle’s ABC (The World of Eric Carle) This book is a simple ABC book with one word per page, but in the creative Eric Carle fashion. Click to see a preview page.
- Alphabet Rescue is a new favorite of my fire truck loving boys. The lowercase letters fix up an old firetruck and come to the rescue of the capital letters. It’s what my 5 year old son would call a cute book. Read more about the book here.
The LEAP PAD Letter Factory Video
During kindergarden prescreening every year, I would ask the parents of the children who knew their letters what they did to help their child learn their letters.
By far, the kindergarten parents said, “The Leap Pad Letter Factory has been one of the main reasons my child knows their letter names and sounds.”
That’s right. We’ve been watching the LeapFrog: Learning DVD Set a few times each week in addition to all of the other alphabet interactions and
Hands on Alphabet Games and Activities
And last, but definately not least, here are some hands-on letter learning activities and games that we have shared in the past. Try to plan for one or more of these type of activities every week. We like to make the activity on a Monday and play with it every day throughout the week for repeated practice.
More Alphabet Activities from the Early Childhood Education Team:
Teaching the Alphabet with a Class Name Book by Fun-A-Day
Capital or Lowercase? Alphabet Activity for Kindergarten or Preschool by Capri + 3
Playful Ways to Learn Alphabet Letters by Still Playing School
Preschool Letter Activities: 3 Ways to Teach the ABC’s by Learning 2 Walk
Learning the Alphabet- Which Letters Do I Teach First? by Growing Book by Book
Preschool Activities that Teach the Alphabet by Munchkins and Moms
A Giant List of Alphabet Activities by Mom Inspired Life
How We Learn Our ABC’s by Tiny Tots Adventures
Learning the Alphabet Ideas plus FREE ABC Poster by Powerful Mothering
Playful Learning Literacy Games for Preschool and Kindergarten! by The Preschool Toolbox Blog
Teaching the Alphabet Activities for Children by The Educators’ Spin On It