How to Teach Letters to Toddlers

by Shellie Braeuner, Demand Media Google
    Keeping letters within reach of your toddler makes reading easier in the future.

    Keeping letters within reach of your toddler makes reading easier in the future.

    Teaching your toddler letters is child’s play. Literally. Toddlers explore their world and learn through play. The more the two of you play with letters, the more your child will recognize them. Letters are tough. There are 52 different shapes, including uppercase and lowercase letters. Your child must recognize the shape and put it with the proper letter name. This doesn’t even include phonics, or adding the letter’s sound. Keep it simple with little ones and begin with naming letters.

    Items you will need

    • Letter blocks
    • Cookie sheet
    • Shaving cream
    • Sidewalk chalk

    Rhythm and Rhyme

    Step 1

    Sing the Alphabet Song with your child. Toddlers enjoy the rhythm and rhyme of simple songs like the Alphabet Song. Most toddlers will learn the song quickly, but not associate the words with letters.

    Step 2

    Lay out the letter blocks in order on the floor or on a table.

    Step 3

    Sing the alphabet song slowly with your child and point to each letter as you sing its name.

    Fun With Foam

    Step 1

    Spray shaving cream onto a cookie sheet. Smooth it out so that the shaving cream forms a thin layer over the entire cookie sheet.

    Step 2

    Press your finger into the foam until it touches the cookie sheet. Draw a letter.

    Step 3

    Ask the child to trace the letter with her finger.

    Step 4

    Ask the child to draw a letter by herself.

    Step 5

    Smooth the foam to erase the old letter and start a new one.

    Sidewalk Letter Game

    Step 1

    Draw four or five letters on the sidewalk or driveway with sidewalk chalk. Say each letter out loud as you draw them.

    Step 2

    Ask the child to repeat each letter as you draw them.

    Step 3

    Choose a starting point and line up with the child.

    Step 4

    Announce a letter and both of you run and stand on the correct letter. Help the child until he is familiar with the first several letters.

    Step 5

    Add letters to your game until you include the entire alphabet.

    Tip

    • Read to your toddler every day. You can use foam letters or an alphabet puzzle in the same way as the blocks. When you add lowercase letters to your Sidewalk Letter Game, draw a line under the letters d, b, q and p to help your little one recognize the difference.

    Warning

    • Don’t expect your toddler to sit down and learn letters in a single day. Keep the mood playful and let him get up and play with other toys as he pleases.

    About the Author

    Based in Nashville, Shellie Braeuner has been writing articles since 1986 on topics including child rearing, entertainment, politics and home improvement. Her work has appeared in "The Tennessean" and "Borderlines" as well as a book from Simon & Schuster. Braeuner holds a Master of Education in developmental counseling from Vanderbilt University.

    Photo Credits

    • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images