Tips and Activities for Teaching Alphabet Recognition

Alphabet recognition is one of the first skills children learn as beginning readers. In this post, I’m sharing 4 strategies for teaching letter recognition, as well as digital and printable alphabet recognition activities for kindergarten and preschool students.

If you work with young students I know you spend a lot of time working with them on letter recognition.  It is one of the very first skills children learn as beginning readers.  It’s so important because it allows them to see how printed text is related to our spoken language. 

As with any new skill, in order to master letter recognition students must have LOTS of opportunity for practice and review.  We also know that children learn the alphabet best through a combination of direct instruction and multiple exposures to print. The good news is there are TONS of great ways to teach alphabet recognition!

It would be easy to spend hours gathering ideas from the internet, planning and prepping your alphabet activities….But I’ve taken all of that off your hands!  Today I’m happy to share 4 strategies for teaching letter recognition and activities to go along with each one!

Note: There is no general consensus on the best sequence for teaching the alphabet. I recommend introducing the activities in the order they are presented below. 

So let’s take a look…. 

1.  Teach Children the Letters in Their Name

Starting with name activities makes a lot of sense!  For one, most children are already familiar with the way their name looks which gives you a good starting block.  It also makes sense to start with name activities at the beginning of the school year when you are all getting to know each other!    

You can start by just identifying and naming the letters.  Once the letter name mastery is apparent, you can move onto the sounds each letter makes.  The good news is that most letters in names are closely related to their sounds. This helps to make the alphabetic principle (the idea that each letter stands for a sound) pretty clear to kids! 

Name Activities

I love these editable name activities because they develop fine motor skills while at the same time help young learners recognize, learn to spell, and write their names.  

All too often activities that involve student names require you to hand print each individual name for every activity, but not this resource!  Instead, it has been created as an editable “autofill” document so you can personalize each page for your students in no time at all! It’s so simple.  Once you type your students’ names into the class list, you simply print the pages that you want to use. Take a look at this quick demo video below to see how this resource will literally save you HOURS of work!

Another perk of this resource is that it naturally meet the needs of all different learners.  There are 9 different activities included that range from identifying letters of their name to writing it. Students who are ready to take on more of a challenge can benefit from recognizing and working on their last names or their classmates’ names.  

2.  Teach the Shapes of Letters and Provide LOTS of Practice

Children need A LOT of practice writing letters (as early as possible) in order to learn the letter shapes.  When children are taught to write letters accurately and encouraged to pay attention to their distinctive features, it significantly helps with their letter recognition, (Clay, 1993).  

According to Wiley Blevins’ book, Phonics from A-Z, if you’re working with kids who have limited alphabet knowledge, don’t teach them both uppercase and lowercase forms of the letters at the same time.  If children are in preschool, focus on uppercase first.  Uppercase letters are easier to distinguish visually.  If you are working with kids in kindergarten or first grade, focus on lowercase letters because that is what they most frequently encounter in text.  

Independent writing is the most effective way to teach children to form the shapes of each letter, but copying and tracing can also be useful.  Blevins recommends encouraging students to say the letter name and/or sound as they trace it.  Tracing and copying also help to develop fine motor skills.  

Letter Formation – Alphabet Tracing Worksheets with Videos

This resource is a WONDERFUL way to teach children correct letter formations.  It is highly engaging for students and NO PREP for you!!!

Each letter slide starts with a letter introduction video students get to watch (and sing along to).  Then they get to view a super helpful animated printing GIF that demonstrates the correct way to form the letter. 

Finally, there is a worksheet for every letter where students identify, trace, and write the letter.  This resource is made for virtual or in-person learning and is the perfect resource for morning work, literacy centers, or homework!

Fine Motor Alphabet Activities

I love this resource because it is a one stop shop for practice with fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and proper alphabet letter formation. Students LOVE the hands-on aspect of the letter tracing activities.  

The resource includes 5 different alphabet activities so students never get bored of doing the same thing over and over again. This resource makes engaging, EASY to PREP literacy center activities.  

There are 2 versions of each alphabet activity included in this resource to help you best meet the needs of your students.

This fine motor alphabet activities bundle includes: 

Digital Alphabet Activities Bundle

While we generally want our young students to engage in hands-on activities, in this time of virtual learning and social distancing, this digital resource is a GREAT option. It is a digital resource that helps students to learn to recognize alphabet letters, form upper and lowercase letters, and practice the sound of each letter. 

You’ll love this resource because all of the activities are NO PREP for you! Each one has been PRELOADED, so with 1 click you can add them to your Seesaw library or Google drive. Then all you have to do is assign them to your students!

For each letter there are 10 consistent activities. Once you teach the procedures and expectations for the first activity, you can be confident your students will know how to independently complete the rest of the tasks.

These alphabet activities are perfect for students to work on during independent learning centers or at home learning.

Activities included in the alphabet bundle:


3.  Read a lot of Alphabet Books

Alphabet books are wonderful because they provide opportunities for students to hear, see, say and write the alphabet in a variety of contexts and for different purposes.  

They are also helpful in the following ways:  

🍎 Alphabet books help beginning readers’ to develop their oral language, the skills and knowledge that go into listening and speaking.  This development is essential for reading comprehension and writing.  

🍎 Alphabet books are presented in ABC order which helps students to learn their letter sequence. 

🍎 As they listen students learn to associate an individual sound with an individual letter. 

🍎 Alphabet books help to build vocabulary and world knowledge.  This is especially helpful for English language learners or those with limited world knowledge.  

🍎 Finally, alphabet books are fun and engaging!  They usually don’t have a lot of text and therefore can be more appealing to readers who may be intimidated by books with more text.  

You can read more about how to use alphabet books in the classroom and download a FREE list of alphabet mentor texts here.  

Alphabet Picture book lists

4.  Include Multi-Sensory Alphabet Activities

Tactile, visual, auditory and kinesthetic (movement) activities are great for teaching the alphabet- and of course, young children love them.  

In his book, Blevins shares a list of 35 different multi-sensory activities for developing alphabet recognition.  Some of my favorites from his list include: 

💗 Body letters:  Divide the class into groups of three to five students  and assign each group a letter to form with their body or bodies.  

💗 Letter Pop-up:  Distribute letter cards, one or two to each child.  Call out a letter.  Those holding that letter “pop up” from their seat.  This is a great activity when you have a few extra minutes to spare and a nice way to quickly check for accuracy.  

💗 Letter Actions:  Teach an action for each letter they learn.  As you introduce the letter, model the action and have the students perform it.  In later weeks, you can hold up letter cards and the students can do the action associated with it.  

💗Alphabet walk:  Take the kids for a walk around the school or neighborhood.  Have them look for and identify letters they can find in environmental print.  

Alphabet Activities Digital & Printable Bundle

Finally, if you’re looking for ONE single resource that has ALL YOU NEED to teach letter recognition you’ll want to take a look at my Alphabet Activities Bundle.

This bundle includes 11 different engaging and interactive digital and printable worksheet alphabet activities.  It’s the perfect bundle for preschool and kindergarten students who are learning to recognize alphabet letters, form upper and lowercase letters, and practice letter sounds!

I hope the information and resources I’ve shared today will help to save you time and bring more engaging alphabet recognition activities into your classroom!

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