Are you looking for a better way to teach the alphabet to preschoolers? Teaching the alphabet is so much harder than most people think it’s going to be. Learning to identify the letters of the alphabet plays a crucial role in building a well-rounded early literacy foundation — so getting it right from the start is a must.
Teaching the Alphabet to Preschoolers
When you try to teach the alphabet without actually knowing and understanding how young children learn the alphabet, it can backfire on you and your kids. You have to take into consideration how young children learn best, and then provide them with plenty of fun, meaningful, and most importantly – hands-on learning activities centered around letters.
When your little learners think they’re just playing and having fun, they’ll be more successful, and you’ll also be less stressed.
Letter of the Week
I know you want to get real answers to your most burning questions about how to teach the alphabet to your preschool kids, so listen up because I’m going to be brutally honest with you for a moment.
You’ve probably seen and heard a lot about teaching a letter of the week in your web searches. There are hundreds, possibly even thousands, of letter of the week programs out there touting their many benefits. Those cute hand print crafts and letter of week activities may even seem like perfectly logical and easy ways to teach the letters of the alphabet to your kids. You start with the letter A and end with the letter Z and you’re done — easy-peasy, right?
I’m sorry to be the one to burst your bubble my friend, but teaching the alphabet to preschoolers is a real science that takes much more skill and knowledge than you could ever get by using ho-hum flash cards or worksheets. And gluing buttons to an outline of the letter B? Nope, that’s just a big old waste of buttons, glue, and time for both teachers and children.
Learning About Letters with Hands-On Activities
So, how do you help students recognize letters without doing traditional letter of the week? The answer is fun, hands-on activities that will engage and motivate your kids to learn.
But what does that actually mean? What does it look like in the classroom? The answer is simple, you begin by providing your students with multiple opportunities throughout the day to touch and manipulate letters. Below you can find some of the hands-on alphabet activities that have become favorites over the years in my own classroom.
When it comes to letter activities, they’re not all created equal. The activities that will be most effective will also be those that are most meaningful to your students. By meaningful I’m referring to leveraging their natural interest in certain letters, like those in their own name, to get them interested in learning. For example, Preeti is going to much more interested in learning the letter “P” than David is – that’s how kids work, they’re egocentric — am I right?
But once you get them interested in the first letter of their name, then you can get them interested in the other letters in their name. From there, you branch out to the letters in their classmate’s names and family members and so on. Do you see where I’m going with this? Make it meaningful and get their buy in up front, instead of being the one in charge and telling them what letter they should be learning and when and how they should learn it. When they take control of their own learning they will learn so much more than you ever thought possible!
Teaching the Alphabet: Hands On Learning
Here comes the hands-on part I promised you. There’s no question that using their own names to motivate them to learn letters is a highly effective method for teaching the alphabet, but when you couple it with hands-on learning — that’s when the magic really starts to happen!
When young children are given ample opportunities to touch, feel, and manipulate 3 dimensional letter models (think magnetic letters) they will learn to associate the shapes of letters with the letter names more quickly.
Essentially, what we have here is the perfect recipe for teaching the alphabet to preschoolers — and your Pre-K and Kindergarten students too!
If you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to keep all of this helpful information straight in your head, I’ve got your back! I created this free eBook, Literacy Essentials, that walks you step-by-step through the process of creating a strong foundation for early literacy success.
Don’t miss these great resources to answer additional questions about teaching the alphabet:
- Which letter should I start teaching first?
- What order is best to teach letters?
- Should I teach upper and lowercase letters at the same time?