Learning Games for Teaching Alphabet and Language Skills

Fun Ways to Learn the Alphabet

Creative ideas to learn the alphabet - learning is fun!
Creative ideas to learn the alphabet - learning is fun! | Source

Creative Ways to Learn the Alphabet

Office supply stores and department stores often carry a large selection of preschool workbooks. In general, most three and four year old children do not enjoy flash cards, tracing lines in a repetitive fashion, or circling letters to learn their names.

There are many creative ways to learn letter names, letter sounds, sequencing, and other pre-literacy skills. Try making glow-in-the-dark ABC window clings to practice letter names, or make a clothespin "snapper" toy that reveals a letter when the pin is opened. Paint with bubble wrap stamps, go fishing for letters and words, and make a puzzle out of a child's name.

Think outside the box and have fun while learning!

Make Your Own Window Clings

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Use dimensional paint and pipe letters onto wax paper. Once dry, they will make window clings.Create the alphabet, pictures, or symbols with dimensional paint for unique window clings.
Use dimensional paint and pipe letters onto wax paper. Once dry, they will make window clings.
Use dimensional paint and pipe letters onto wax paper. Once dry, they will make window clings. | Source
Create the alphabet, pictures, or symbols with dimensional paint for unique window clings.
Create the alphabet, pictures, or symbols with dimensional paint for unique window clings. | Source

Make Your Own ABC Window Clings

Window clings are an excellent alternative to magnetic letters. They can be used on any smooth surface, and cling wonderfully to a sliding glass door, mirror, or even the car window on a long car trip. There is no need to buy expensive clings, as they are easy to make at home. Glow in the dark paint is available, which makes these window clings wonderful for nighttime use or dark car rides.

Materials:

  1. Wax paper
  2. Dimensional paint, such as Tulip

Instructions:

Lay out the wax paper and carefully pipe the paint into letter shapes. Allow the paint to dry, remove from the wax paper, and have fun making words and learning letter names!

Clothespin ABC Game

Cut out an animal shape, cut it in half, and glue it to a clothespin. Glue a letter to the back of the clothespin.
Cut out an animal shape, cut it in half, and glue it to a clothespin. Glue a letter to the back of the clothespin. | Source
When the alligator opens its mouth, an "A" appears!
When the alligator opens its mouth, an "A" appears! | Source

Clothespin ABC Snappers

A fun craft turns educational when the alphabet is incorporated into the project. Make ABC "snappers" out of clothespins: an alligator's mouth will open to reveal the letter "A," and a whale contains the letter "W." Let your imagination go wild and create a fun snapper for each letter of the alphabet.

Materials:

  1. Hinged clothespins
  2. Cardstock
  3. Markers
  4. Glue

Instructions:

Color and cut an animal shape out of card-stock. Cut the shape in half, and glue one half of the shape to the top part of the clothespin, and the second half to the bottom. On the back side of the clothespin, glue the appropriate letter (either cut a letter out of cardstock or use pre-cut foam letters). When the glue dries, open the clothespin to reveal the letter!

Clothesline ABC Game

Match socks on a clothesline to learn upper case letters, lower case letters, and letter sounds.
Match socks on a clothesline to learn uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and letter sounds. | Source

Clothesline ABC Game

A great game for very young children is the "Clothesline" ABC game. This game can be used to teach letter recognition, rhyming, and reinforce early reading concepts.

Materials:

  1. Children's socks (even number - 26 pairs will be needed for the basic ABC game below)
  2. Yarn
  3. Clothespins
  4. Masking tape
  5. Marker

Instructions (Basic ABC Recognition game):

Separate the socks into pairs. Place a strip of masking tape onto each sock and label each pair of socks with an upper-case letter, until you have 26 pairs of socks labeled AA, BB, CC, etc.

Place one set of the alphabet socks on a "clothesline" (the yarn) with clothespins, strung at a height the child can reach. Place the remaining, matching socks into a box or small basket. Have the child take a sock from the basket and label the letter for the child: "Oh, you found the letter F! Can you find the other letter F on the line?" Have the child hang the sock next to its matching partner on the clothesline.

Variations:

  • Upper and Lower Case Letters: Label one sock with an upper case letter, and label the matching sock with a lower case letter. Have the child match the upper and lower case letters on the clothesline.
  • Rhyming words: Label each pair of socks with rhyming pictures, such as cat and rat, car and star, fox and box. Use clip-art if necessary, and apply the pictures with double-sided tape or looped masking tape. Place one set of rhyming words on the clothesline, and have the other set in a box. Have the child match each sock with its rhyming partner.
  • Early reading skills: Label each pair of socks with a written word-picture combination. For example, label one sock with the word "cat" and the other sock with a picture of a cat. Hang the set of written words on the line and place the socks with pictures in a basket. When the child draws a picture-sock out of the basket, have him hang it next to the matching written word on the line.

ABC Fishing Game

A fishing pole made from string and a stick, with a magnet attached at the end make a great fishing game. Simply attach a paper clip to paper fish, and label the fish with letters to make the game educational.
A fishing pole made from string and a stick, with a magnet attached at the end make a great fishing game. Simply attach a paper clip to paper fish, and label the fish with letters to make the game educational. | Source

Letter and Word Fishing Game

Turn learning the alphabet into a fishing expedition! With the power of magnets, kids are sure to land a "big one" every time!

Materials:

  1. Stick
  2. String
  3. Magnet
  4. Cardboard
  5. Paper clips
  6. Markers

Instructions:

Cut out several fish shapes from cardboard or card stock. Write a letter on each fish, and attach a paper clip to the fish's mouth. Make a fishing pole by tying a length of string onto a stick. Tie a magnet to the end of the fishing line. Have the child fish for a specific letter to reinforce letter naming skills.

Variations:

Write sight words onto the fish instead of letters for older children, and have them fish for a specific sight word. Another variation is to draw pictures onto the fish and have the child find a rhyming word: if the fish has a car drawn on it, ask the child to find the fish that rhymes with "star."

Sequencing skills may also be practiced with this game. Once the child recognizes letter names, ask the child to find the fish with the letter A, then the fish with the letter B. This will help young children develop the ability to perform two-step tasks and recall the order of events.

Categorization may also be practiced. Draw animals on some of the fish, transportation vehicles on others, and vegetables on the rest (e.g.). Have the child sort the fish into three piles as they are caught.

Name Puzzle

A great way for kids to learn name recognition is to write their name on a strip of cardboard and cut each letter into a puzzle piece. Very young children will learn to put their name together, even before they can write letters. Attach a magnet to the back of each puzzle piece, and kids can put their name puzzles together on the fridge.

An easier (and travel-friendly) idea is to write the letters of the child's name onto squares of paper. Write the child's name on the outside of a snack-sized ziplock baggie - the child can practice placing the squares in the right order to spell their name.

Bubble Wrap Letter Stamps

Make fun stamps by gluing cut-out bubble wrap onto foam or wooden blocks. This activity is simple to make and the kids love stamping letters onto paper!

Materials:

  1. Bubble wrap
  2. Scissors
  3. Paint
  4. Glue
  5. Foam or wooden block

Instructions:

Cut out letters from the bubble wrap. Glue the letter to a foam block and allow the stamp to dry. Pour tempera paint into a shallow bowl. Have the child dip the stamp into the paint (or have the child paint the stamp with a paintbrush). Press the stamp to paper to make textured letter imprints!

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Comments 20 comments

watergeek profile image

watergeek 4 years ago

Cool games - except the fish one (lol). This is me, "Why waste time with a fishing pole? Just reach down and pick the fish up." Other kids loved the fishing, though. I liked word games when I was a kid, especially making other words out of my name letters (once I knew some), so it was fun reading this well-written article.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Haha, watergeek - always a pragmatist! My boys LOVE fishing for letters. Sometimes we'd make a bingo-style card and the first person to fill up the card wins. My kid's favorites are the window clings. They like making them AND they like playing with them!


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

Neat ideas! They all sound very enjoyable for kids. My little cousin will probably like playing the fishing game and making bubble wrap letter stamps. Rated up and tweeted!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

My kids love doing these types of crafts, Om. Both of them knew their alphabet before the age of three - learning with the use of games is much better than trying to force workbooks on little ones. I hope your cousin has fun!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I know teachers who can really use these ideas in their classrooms. Great and voted all the way up. I love the clothespin and clothesline game -- this can be used for thematic lessons as well. Sharing!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

The clothesline game really helped Nolan learn his letters, especially pairing lower case and upper case letters. The boys love to play with clothespin snappers and my six year old makes his own creations now. Thanks for your comment, teaches12345!


krsharp05 profile image

krsharp05 4 years ago from 18th and Vine

leah, You are so creative! The fishing game looks like kids would love it. It also works fine motor skill development and coordination :) All great ideas. -K


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Krsharp05, I love hands-on activities rather than workbooks for that reason - it develops more than one skill at a time. Even the little "snappers" made from clothespins help with fine motor development!


Robert Erich profile image

Robert Erich 4 years ago from California

These ideas are fantastic! And you have said in your last comment what I like about these activities - they are far more effective at developing multiple skills than most other methods for learning the alphabet. Thanks for sharing! A quality article.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

It is really fun to watch little ones learn while playing games, Robert. We have a great time playing with new letter games. My older son has moved on to early reading skills, so we practice sight words with a similar strategy.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

These are wonderful and fun ideas. I almost wish my boy was little again so we could do these together-almost. I love that many of these also double as a craft, helping hone those tiny fine motor skills. Thank you for a delightful Hub.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

I love the fact that my kids are in this stage, Hyphenbird - it really is a lot of fun. We are always looking for creative learning activities, and my kids LOVE trying new games and crafts!


Lipnancy profile image

Lipnancy 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

What great ideas for teaching children the most basic skills. Love your hub.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 4 years ago from Western New York Author

Thanks, Lipnancy! The kids love these activities. I need to get some pictures of the bubble wrap stamps. We did these a little while ago and I forgot to take pictures!


ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 14 months ago from New Delhi, India

Congratulations for the HOTD!

All these are very useful and interesting suggestions to teach alphabets and basic language skills to kids. Your socks idea is quite interesting. I am sure it will be fun for kids as well as parents and teachers.

Thank you for sharing!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 14 months ago from Western New York Author

Thank you, ChitrangadaSharan! Learning should always be fun, and should always be "hands-on." My children learned to read very early and quickly because of the games we played!


Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe 14 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Leah, congrats on HOTD! What a clever idea and so inventive to make learning fun with the alphabet.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 14 months ago from the short journey

Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this fun post. Parents, grandparents, and teachers will all find it useful and kids will learn so much more than the alphabet when the adults in their lives make learning interesting!


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 13 months ago from Western New York Author

My boys certainly loved learning through games like these! We still play a lot of learning games, though now we focus more on making robots than on the alphabet, Kristen! Both of my boys were early/voracious readers, so the games really did help them learn at a young age.


leahlefler profile image

leahlefler 13 months ago from Western New York Author

I agree, RTalloni - when learning is hands-on and fun, the kids don't even realize they are learning. Kids love to play, and it is easy to make learning to read into a game!

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