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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.
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 fridge 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
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;)
Children love markers. Every time we’d pull out the individual whiteboards/markers they would get excited! It puts a little twiston 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). Words like cat, dog, up, man, ten.
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 Dot
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.
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!
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/.
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!
Try some of these pages for more information and ideas!