Activities to Teach Alphabet Recognition to Young Children

Fum alphabet puzzle in the shape of a snake.
Fum alphabet puzzle in the shape of a snake. | Source
Source
Source
Lakeshore alphabet wipe-off books, and wipe-off cards from Ross
Lakeshore alphabet wipe-off books, and wipe-off cards from Ross | Source
Practicing letters in shaving cream
Practicing letters in shaving cream | Source

Loads of Great Alphabet Activities


I have done a lot of letter recognition activities with young children as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. Luckily, I have found that universally children enjoy the alphabet. Even my most challenging clients with autism readily participate in alphabet recognition and other alphabet activities. I have provided lots of time-tested alphabet activities, with photos, from my experience.


Alphabet Recognition Activities Included in this Hub:

Alphabet Puzzles

2-Piece Alphabet Puzzles

Alphabet Books

Alphabet Electronic Toys

Alphabet Memory Game

Alphabet Flash Cards

Coloring & Activity Books Featuring Alphabet

Writing Books

Wipe Off Books

Free Online Alphabet Worksheets

YouTube Alphabet Songs

Free Online Alphabet Games

Android Alphabet Apps

iPad & iPhone Alphabet Activities



Alphabet recognition is one of our most important pre-reading and pre-writing activities. If a child does not recognize alphabet letters, then the letters have no meaning, and copying and writing letters will have no meaning. A child will not be able to write at a level higher than their reading level. If a child reads on a first grade level, don’t expect him/her to copy 4th grade material.

Imagine how long it would take you to copy sentences in French, German, or Turkish, if you did not read those languages. But at least you would recognize most of the letters, if you read English. How long would it take you to copy sentences in Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, with unfamiliar characters? If a child does not recognize alphabet letters, then reading and writing are like an unfamiliar language.



Alphabet Puzzles

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Favorite puzzle, by Melissa & Doug, with pieces separated by rowEssentially the same puzzle, but pieces of one have knobs; by Melissa & DougDisney PuzzleUppercase alphabet foam puzzle from Dollar TreeLowercase alphabet foam puzzle from Dollar Tree
Favorite puzzle, by Melissa & Doug, with pieces separated by row
Favorite puzzle, by Melissa & Doug, with pieces separated by row | Source
Essentially the same puzzle, but pieces of one have knobs; by Melissa & Doug
Essentially the same puzzle, but pieces of one have knobs; by Melissa & Doug | Source
Disney Puzzle
Disney Puzzle | Source
Uppercase alphabet foam puzzle from Dollar Tree
Uppercase alphabet foam puzzle from Dollar Tree | Source
Lowercase alphabet foam puzzle from Dollar Tree
Lowercase alphabet foam puzzle from Dollar Tree | Source

My Favorite Alphabet Puzzle

Melissa & Doug Alphabet Art Wooden Puzzle (26 pcs)
Melissa & Doug Alphabet Art Wooden Puzzle (26 pcs)

The favorite among my Occupational Therapy clients

 

Alphabet Puzzles


I have about a half dozen different alphabet puzzles, and would rotate puzzles each week. I think the kids’ favorite would be the Melissa & Doug alphabet puzzle, starting with alligator for A. I use lots of repetition when working with alphabet puzzles, which the kids are very tolerant of, and seem to enjoy. Here is a typical sequence that I use with alphabet puzzles:


Sing ABC song while pointing to each letter.

Separate pieces by row, and give letters for first row.

Say each letter &/or word as child places piece.

Continue for each row.

When complete, sing ABC song again, pointing to letters.

Have child remove pieces one at a time.

Say each letter as child places pieces back in plastic bag.



2-piece Alphabet Puzzles

2-piece puzzles with upper- & lowercase letters, and word starting with that letter on one piece, and picture on other piece
2-piece puzzles with upper- & lowercase letters, and word starting with that letter on one piece, and picture on other piece | Source

2- and 3-Piece Alphabet Puzzles


The 2- and 3-piece alphabet puzzles are a higher level of difficulty in regard to alphabet knowledge. I usually give the pieces for 5 to 7 letters at a time for the child to match up. On the other hand, if you try not saying the letter or word- you may be surprised to learn your child can read, which was the case with one of my autistic clients. I do not think he was merely matching the shape of the interlock, nor do I think he was familiar enough with the picture depictions of the letters on this particular puzzle set.



Assortment of Alphabet Books

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Top right is my favorite alphabet book, which I got from Ross.  Not crazy about the Dr Seuss alphabet book upper right.More alphabet books
Top right is my favorite alphabet book, which I got from Ross.  Not crazy about the Dr Seuss alphabet book upper right.
Top right is my favorite alphabet book, which I got from Ross. Not crazy about the Dr Seuss alphabet book upper right. | Source
More alphabet books
More alphabet books | Source

My Favorite Alphabet Book

Baby's First Library ABC
Baby's First Library ABC

My absolute favorite alphabet book!! Plenty of used copies available for less than $1

 

Alphabet Books


I have about a dozen alphabet books, and would rotate them each week. Most of mine came from Goodwill, for 25 cents to a dollar, but that was through a lot of visits to a lot of different stores over time by my sister. Here are examples of my strategies:


If front or back of the book has the complete alphabet, start with this.

Sing ABC song or recite letters while pointing at them or getting child to point.

Go through alphabet book, saying each letter. If there are multiple pictures of objects for each picture, name at least one picture per letter.

Finish with naming all letters, or singing ABC song while pointing at letters if the complete alphabet is in the front or back of the book.

You could also try pointing to letters in the book at random, and have child point to corresponding letter on an alphabet puzzle, alphabet letter/writing guide, or alphabet electronic toy.



Electronic Alphabet Toys

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Electronic alphabet toys, including by V-TechElectronic alphabet toysLeap Frog alphabet letters
Electronic alphabet toys, including by V-Tech
Electronic alphabet toys, including by V-Tech | Source
Electronic alphabet toys
Electronic alphabet toys | Source
Leap Frog alphabet letters
Leap Frog alphabet letters | Source

Electronic Alphabet Toys

VTech Preschool Learning Alphabet Apple
VTech Preschool Learning Alphabet Apple

I have this one, among others. See photo above.

 

Alphabet Electronic Toys


There are a lot of alphabet electronic toys available. My sister got all of mine for me. She works all over San Antonio, and would scope out the Goodwill stores on her lunch breaks. So I have quite a collection, but my sister collected them over time. She supplied me as well as my Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTAs), never paying more than $3. I know most people can’t put in that kind of effort, so I have included pictures of 7 different alphabet electronic toys. I’ve also included some Amazon products so you know what to look for. Seems like V-Tech and Leap Frog have lots of options.

Most of the devices have several modes. You can set it to start saying all of the letters, starting with A. Usually if you press a letter, it will then only say a letter when you press that letter. Often there is a test mode, where it will say a letter and you have to press the key for that letter.


Alphabet Memory Match

Memory Match Game
Memory Match Game | Source

Alphabet Memory Match

Alphabet Memory Game


This is the alphabet version of children’s memory match, or concentration game. The alphabet memory game that I have requires that the child match upper- and lowercase alphabet letters. It could be played as a simple matching game, without turning pieces face down.

Played as memory match, cards are mixed up and turned face down. I would start with about 6 matched pairs of letters. Players take turns turning two cards face up, trying to make a match of upper and lowercase letters. Use a letter/writing guide if needed if the child does not know lowercase letters that correspond to the uppercase.


Alphabet Flash Cards

Alphabet Flash Cards
Alphabet Flash Cards | Source

Alphabet Flash Cards

Alphabet Flash Cards


There are multiple variations of alphabet flash cards. A common presentation is with uppercase &/or lowercase alphabet letter on one side of the card, and a picture of something starting with that letter on the other side of the card.

If you have cards with a full set of uppercase letters and separate cards for lowercase letters, you could have the child match upper and lowercase. I have used the cards to see if the child knows alphabet letters when presented randomly. You can set aside the letters they cannot identify, then you know your baseline.



Children's Activity Books Featuring Alphabet

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Alphabet Activities and Dot-to-Dot AlphabetDpt-to-Dot AlphabetCircle Words Starting with LetterV is for Vegetable color by number
Alphabet Activities and Dot-to-Dot Alphabet
Alphabet Activities and Dot-to-Dot Alphabet | Source
Dpt-to-Dot Alphabet
Dpt-to-Dot Alphabet | Source
Circle Words Starting with Letter
Circle Words Starting with Letter | Source
V is for Vegetable color by number
V is for Vegetable color by number | Source

Coloring & Activity Books Featuring Alphabet


There are a myriad of coloring books and other children’s activity books with alphabet activities. Some of my favorites are alphabet dot-to-dot. Instead of creating a picture by drawing lines from number to number (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.), you connect the dots by drawing lines from letter to letter (A, B, C, D, E, etc.).

I have a coloring book-type children’s activity book that has color by number pictures featuring the alphabet. There is a worksheet for each letter, featuring the letter, and a couple objects that start with that letter. Other coloring book activities include identifying pictures from an array of pictures that start with a designated letter.

Look for Fun Pad and coloring book activity books at Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, Ross, Target, Wal-Mart, Big Lot, etc. I’ve found great alphabet activity books at Lakeshore Learning Store and Hobby Lobby, though a bit pricey. I have an alphabet dot painting book. You use special markers that create pictures through dots.


Letter Writing Books

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Assortment of Letter/Alphabet Writing BooksAlphabet Writing Books
Assortment of Letter/Alphabet Writing Books
Assortment of Letter/Alphabet Writing Books | Source
Alphabet Writing Books
Alphabet Writing Books | Source

Writing Books


Writing books are A to Z workbooks for practicing writing letters. I sometimes use these as part of the process of alphabet recognition, if the child shows progress, and readiness to begin working on letter formation. I try to choose books with large letters, and always begin with uppercase letters.

You can order actual “school house” writing books like Zaner-Bloser, of which I would buy the kindergarten book. You can also get a variety of inexpensive letter books, including books for one dollar from Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, or Target. Just choose large letters, with an emphasis on tracing, and don’t focus too much on precision of letter formation.

I have one book with really large upper case letters. There is one block-style letter that could be used for gluing in macaroni, dried beans etc.



Alphabet Wipe Off Books

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wipe Clean alphabet booksLakeshore Learning Upper Case & Lower Case writing books; Wipe off alphabet cards from Ross
Wipe Clean alphabet books
Wipe Clean alphabet books | Source
Lakeshore Learning Upper Case & Lower Case writing books; Wipe off alphabet cards from Ross
Lakeshore Learning Upper Case & Lower Case writing books; Wipe off alphabet cards from Ross | Source

Alphabet Wipe Off Books

Printing Uppercase Letters Dry-Erase Book
Printing Uppercase Letters Dry-Erase Book

I really love this book. Letters are large. Child can practice tracing and free writing.

 

Wipe Off Books & Slates


I really love my Wipe Clean wipe off books. They have thick cardboard pages. I have several, including one with 3” upper case letter, one with lower case letters, and one based on animals.


I also love my Lakeshore Learning wipe off books. I have one for upper case and one for lowercase letters. I use the upper case book the most. The letters are about 2”, and there is a line for tracing light blue shaded letters, a row to trace dotted line letters, and two rows for free hand letters. I seldom use the free hand rows with young children.


I have made my own wipe off books by cutting apart my favorite writing books and laminating the sheets.



Free Alphabet Worksheets Online

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Zaner-BloserD'Nealian
Zaner-Bloser
Zaner-Bloser | Source
Source
D'Nealian
D'Nealian | Source
Source

Free Online Alphabet Resources


There are lots of free alphabet worksheets online. These are very similar to writing books you can purchase. These would be suitable for laminating as well.


You can print up worksheets for:

manuscript and cursive letters

uppercase and lower case letters

Zaner Bloser and D’Nealian letters


Find free worksheets here:

LearningPage.com

TeachersandFamilies.com

DLTK-Teach.com

Internet4Classrooms.com



ABC Song with Elmo

ABC Song on YouTube


Bookmark several versions of the alphabet song from YouTube to your phone. All of my clients love the ABC song, even with me singing it! Sometimes I’ll play a version with an activity. Other times I’ll play an ABC song from YouTube as a reward, or to signal the end of our session. I have shared the 4 that I have on my phone.

The first version is Elmo. Who doesn’t like Elmo?!


ABC Song Traditional Tune


This second version is sung to the traditional ABC song melody. Large alphabet letters shown on the left side of the screen. The only thing I don’t like is that they say “zed” for “Z”.


ABC Song, Alternate Tune


This version is sung to an alternate tune, but it’s catchy. I kinda like it.


ABC Song with Sign and Sound


This version of the ABC song has it all. Upper- and lowercase letters are shown, the sign language symbol for that letter is demonstrated, and they give the letter sound. For example, “A sounds like….”


Free Alphabet Games Online from Aven's Corner

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bubble LettersAlphaCopterName Game
Bubble Letters
Bubble Letters | Source
AlphaCopter
AlphaCopter | Source
Name Game
Name Game | Source

Free Alphabet Games

Android App for Alphabet Activity

Write ABC (Learn ABC)
Write ABC (Learn ABC)

Android Apps for Alphabet


Intellijoy

Kids ABC Letters

Kids ABC Phonics

Phonics A-H

Phonics J-Z

Wisemon

ABC Finger Paint for Kids Lite (free)

Oceanhouse Media

Dr. Seuss’s ABC

Aknght Studios

Kids ABC Learn and Trace Lite (free)

Sriram Satyavolu

Write ABC (Learn ABC)



iPhone & iPad Alphabet Apps

Click thumbnail to view full-size
ABC AlphabetsA+ ABC's FunABC Alphabet Coloring Book or iPhoneABC Animal Flash CardsABC Coloring BookABC Dancing Flash CardsABA Flash Cards- Alphabet
ABC Alphabets
ABC Alphabets
A+ ABC's Fun
A+ ABC's Fun
ABC Alphabet Coloring Book or iPhone
ABC Alphabet Coloring Book or iPhone
ABC Animal Flash Cards
ABC Animal Flash Cards
ABC Coloring Book
ABC Coloring Book
ABC Dancing Flash Cards
ABC Dancing Flash Cards
ABA Flash Cards- Alphabet
ABA Flash Cards- Alphabet

iPad & iPhone Apps for Alphabet


ABC Alphabets

A+ ABC’s Fun

ABA Flash Cards-Alphabet

ABC Alphabet Coloring Book

ABC Dancing Flash Cards

ABC Coloring Book (free)

ABC Animal Flash Cards (free)

ABC writing

iWrite words

whack-a-mole

Pocket phonics

Go fun – counting, letters, shapes

Word Slapps

Learning sounds - by different roads to learning



More by this Author


10 comments

rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 4 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks TripletsMomma. I hope you will check out my hubs on sorting by color and shape, and choosing puzzles too.


TripletsMomma profile image

TripletsMomma 4 years ago from Ohio

Great information! I have five year old triplets and have learned that they don't learn the same way. You provided so many ideas and options. I look forward to reviewing your page over and over and finding something new that will help my son.


Mama-n-Teacher profile image

Mama-n-Teacher 4 years ago

WOW! You really included a lot of great information.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Wow you really did your homework and I benefited. Kudos great hub!!!


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 4 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Thanks for visiting sturgeonl and tiredmom.

tiredmom I added the link for Fisher Price. Thanks!


tiredmomoftwins profile image

tiredmomoftwins 4 years ago from florida usa

thank you for your very helpful Hub! also, Fisher Price has a free online ABC Zoo game that is great for babies and toddlers. my twin boys love it.


Sturgeonl profile image

Sturgeonl 4 years ago

This is a wonderful reference for important resources our early learners require. Well done.


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 4 years ago from San Antonio Texas Author

Kathryn thanks for your support on my pre-school/K series.

Thanks Lizyoung. I hope you will write some hubs from your experience as I have. I've used my hubs for client & family handouts, as well as for continuing education/staff development. Let me know if you write on reading to children. I'd be more than happy to link to your related hubs on this one and my others as appropriate. So far I've done sorting by attributes- color and shape, and sensory processing. I hope to be doing others like fine motor, sensory motor, coloring & pre-writing, etc.


Lizyoung123ABC 4 years ago

Wow, nice job as I am a preschool teacher. You are right, as learning the alphabet and letter sounds is the building block to learning to read. It is so important to engage your child in early learning activities such as these. Reading to your child from day 1 is a crucial component to early reading. I started reading to my daughter when she was in my womb and then I held and read to her throughout her infancy and every night as a young child. She loves a good book now and is an excellent reader. My husband too, took this time to bond with her. Lap time is shown in studies to increase reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension later on.

Thanks again!


Kathryn L Hill profile image

Kathryn L Hill 4 years ago from LA

Thank you for this free fire hose of Info! I have printed it up!

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