How to Teach Letters to Preschool Children

by Sara Ipatenco, Demand Media
    Hands-on activities help teach the alphabet.

    Hands-on activities help teach the alphabet.

    Learning the alphabet is one of the most important milestones during the preschool years. Being able to recognize each letter and make the corresponding sound is a big deal. It paves the way for your little one to learn to read and write, which are critical elementary school skills. Don't whip out the flashcards and start pressuring your child though. That can backfire and turn your kiddo off learning. Instead, do a few entertaining letter-related activities. You'll both enjoy yourselves, and your preschooler will be able to impress family and friends with her new knowledge.

    Letter Bags

    Collect 26 paper bags and label each one with a letter of the alphabet. Let your preschooler choose a letter to start with. Tell her what letter is written on the bag and practice making that letter sound together. Brainstorm some things that start with that sound. Challenge your pre-reader to look through the house for a few things that start with the letter on the bag, such as a dinosaur for "d" or a crayon for "c." As she finds things, she can stick them in the paper bag. Once she's collected a few, dump the contents of the bag out and review the letter sound. Your child probably won't want to do all 26 bags in one day, so do one or two a day and feel free to repeat letters if you want.

    Decorate Letters

    Count out 26 pieces of paper and write one letter of the alphabet on each one. Instead of just writing the letter, draw its outline to make the project even more engaging for your kiddo. Get out your stash of art supplies and let your preschooler decorate each letter however he wants. You might also let him paint the letters with a variety of different colors. Take the learning one step further and ask him to decorate the letters with items that start with that letter, such as sequins for "s," googly eyes for "g" and buttons for "b." This won't be possible for tougher letters, such as "q" and "x," but do as many as you can. Once his creations are dry, look at each one and review the letter and the sound it makes.

    Letter Hunt

    Take your child on a letter hunt. She can hunt letters pretty much anywhere, such as at home, at the grocery store or while you're driving in the car. Call out a letter and see how many of that letter she can find. You might also give her a letter and see how fast she can find it. Turn it into a scavenger hunt by writing each letter of the alphabet on a piece of paper and giving it to your preschooler. Give her a pencil, too, so she can cross off the letters as she finds them.

    Additional Ideas

    Pour a bunch of salt into a baking dish and let your kiddo draw each of the letters in the salt. Squirt shaving cream onto a cookie sheet and have your preschooler write each of his letters that way. Squeeze in a bit of physical activity by calling out a letter and asking your child to write it as big as he can by tracing his finger in the air. Stick magnet letters to your refrigerator and let your preschooler point to different letters and name their sounds. Staple 26 pieces of paper together to make a book. Write one letter on each page and then ask your child to draw some things that start with each letter. Look at the finished book together for a little extra practice.

    About the Author

    Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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