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{Early Literacy Stage 4} Lowercase Letter Recognition

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The development of early literacy skills progresses in stages.  Beginning concepts should be taught before introducing more difficult ones.  By following a proper developmental progression, we assist the child’s natural learning capabilities.   This is why I have decided to write a series about {Early Literacy Stages}.  These stages will all inter-mingle with one another, but it is important to define them, and I recommend introducing them in the order given.

{Early Literacy Stage 4} Lowercase Letter Recognition - Wildflower Ramblings #reading #preschool

Here are the Early Literacy Stages for childhood learning:

  1. Uppercase letter recognition
  2. Tactile uppercase letter writing
  3. Utensil prewriting and uppercase letter writing
  4. Lowercase letter recognition (and matching uppercase with lowercase letters)
  5. Lowercase phonetic sounds
  6. Lowercase letter writing

The entire scope of literacy includes the following: reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and representing.  I am focusing on reading letters and writing letters for this series.  However, the other components are very important in developing the whole child towards literacy and becoming a lifelong learner.

Please note: I do not label these stages by age — I have met 18-month-olds who have learned all of their upper and lowercase letters and I have taught 5-year-olds who were still struggling to learn both.  It is important to meet the learner where they are and embrace the child’s pace!

In {Early Literacy Stage 1}, I explain why I chose to teach uppercase letters first.

There is debate surrounding whether children should be taught uppercase or lowercase letters first.  Some teachers opt to teach them together.  I believe that children should be taught recognition of uppercase letters first.  While children should certainly be exposed to lowercase while learning to master uppercase, the focus should be on uppercase.  We call them “big” and “little” letters.

However, if your child is picking up his/her letters very quickly, teaching upper and lowercase together may not be overwhelming for them.  I know from my teaching days, and my experiences with my son, that choosing to teach him uppercase letters has set him up for success as a learner.  Remember to always follow your child’s lead in learning!  My decision to teach uppercase first is based on the following reasoning:

  • learning 26 letters will set your child up for success sooner than trying to learn 52 letters,
  • uppercase letters are more distinguishable from one another,
  • uppercase letters have many more straight lines, so when it comes time to begin printing letters, children can excel, and
  • uppercase letters represent the majority of letters in print outside the home (on street signs, in the grocery store, etc), so learning these will expose your child to a world of print outside the home.

{This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy.} 

How do we help children recognize lowercase letters?  How can they understand the letter name (and phonetic sound) of uppercase and lowercase letters?

1.   Read, read, read!  The world of literary print exposes your child to letters.  Your child will understand that letters create words which create sentences and thoughts and stories.

Point out lowercase letters in books.  Lowercase letters appear much more than uppercase in print, so when reading, point out the letters!  Once your child has a grasp of his/her uppercase letters, you can begin to really focus on pointing out the “little letter.” We call them big and little letters – some refer to them as Mommy and baby letters.


2.  Lowercase letter recognition can be aided by the following tools:

  • These Melissa & Doug magnet letters are so versatile for learning.  You can give your child the letters you are working on in both upper and lowercase on a magnet sheet (I found mine at Michael’s).


(You may find it helpful to print off and laminate some simple, no-fuss flashcards — since most flashcards usually have both the upper and lowercase letters — which means the uppercase letter will always seem more prominent to your child. Here is a link to a set of lowercase flashcards at Reading with Kids. Scroll down to the bottom of the page.)


  • This Lauri A to Z Lowercase Crepe Rubber Puzzle is such a great learning tool.  It is a puzzle with soft, squishy letters for little hands to remember the feel of the letter — and its little picture behind the letters help children correlate a beginning sound to the lowercase letter.


  • You can make your own little letter discs made from laminated letters and wooden discs I found at Michael’s.  Check out Confessions of a Homeschooler for her letter template.  She also made these awesome upper and lowercase letter mats.  She has so many great suggestions for her Letter of the Week curriculum — you can download them for free from her site.


3.  Further tactile learning with creating lowercase letters:  At this stage, your child is not ready to write their lowercase letters with writing utensils — they may be beginning to write uppercase letters — but creating using various methods can continue their exposure to lowercase letters:

  • Playdough is such a wonderful tool for children to create letters.  I have found several mats that are all wonderful and to save you from laminating 26 mats, we slip these into a heavy duty page protector.  (This letter Kk mat is from 1+1+1=1’s Animal ABC mats — we also love mats from Homeschool Creations, as well as any pages from 1+1+1=1’s Tot School ABCs.)


  • 1plus1plus1equals1 created some Q-Tip Painting Alphabet printables which promotes the pincer grasp and focuses on fine motor skills.  Such a fun way to continue learning both upper and lowercase letters!



Check out my tactile suggestions for uppercase letters in {Early Literacy Stage 2} for more ideas. 

4.  Lowercase to uppercase letter matching ideas:

DSC06225 DSC06224

  • There are many upper and lowercase letter sorts in free printable packs at so many amazing homeschooling blogs (links below!), I will be using Royal Baloo’s Zoomin’ Movin’ Alphabet series packs and I love her very simple letter sort.  I like that it is black and white and very straightforward.

(Check out 1plus1plus1equals1‘s list of printable packs from A to Z so you can find a pack that suits your needs!  Most packs for tots and preschoolers will have some kind of letter sort!)


  • Here is another upper and lowercase matching letter sort.  This one is “matching the apples” from 2 Teaching Mommies.


How have you taught your child his/her lowercase letters?  Have you found it helpful to master either upper or lowercase before moving to the other?


Check out all of the Early Literacy posts! 


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  1. Oh I love this! I don’t have time to read through all this now, but I am so glad you wrote it. I have been struggling with how to teach Caden his letters and when to start. I think this series will help me. I am going to follow you on Facebook too, which I am not sure why I wasn’t before! So glad I decided to visit your blog today! :)

    1. Samantha, thank you so much for your kind words — I really like to keep things organized in my head about what direction we are headed! I’m headed over to see your new sensory bin now :) -Amy

  2. That is really interesting to know about uppercase letters being easier (makes sense we you stop to think about it). My boy starts school this year and is just mark making and so I shall try and encourage his name by uppercase.

    Thank you for linking up with Motivational Monday

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