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Hands on alphabet recognition ideas

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These hands on alphabet recognition activities are perfect for helping your toddler or preschooler recognize their letters.  Use these hands on alphabet recognition ideas at home or in the classroom!

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I used all of these ideas with my son when he was two and three years old.  And all of the hands on learning, and use of fine motor skills, really benefits the child in retaining their alphabet letters!  I wrote a free eBook titled, Early Literacy Stages, which helps parents define and teach the six developmental stages of literacy learning.  The first stage is recognizing uppercase letters!  We have chosen to learn uppercase (“capital” or “big” or “mama”) letters first for the following reasons:

  • learning the 26 uppercase letters will set your child up for success sooner than trying to learn 52 letters (lower and uppercase),
  • uppercase letters are more distinguishable from one another,
  • they 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 uppercase will more readily expose your child to a world of print outside the home.

It is important for children to learn the lowercase letters, and the sounds, too, but so they are not overwhelmed, we choose uppercase first.  Choose what is best for your child.  We also enjoy learning letter sounds and matching letters, both using Montessori materials.

Alphabet recognition ideas

Here are 10 fun activities that will help your child recognize their alphabet!

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You can make a simple alphabet slot game with a reused plastic container and wooden discs with letters either written in permanent marker (the easier choice), or with laminated letters.
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Help your child shape letters with play dough!  We like to use play dough mats to inspire more creative learning — we are using Animal ABC mats here!

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Here, my son is using Lauri letter stackers.  He loves these!  They come in lower and uppercase letters.

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We put our sandpaper letters inside a little mailbox (from Target or Michael’s).  Sometimes, we put them in envelopes to make it feel more like we’re playing post office.  What letter will you mail today?!DSC06237-001

Placing magnets, poms, stickers, Do-a-Dot markers, or rocks on dot pages is always fun for learning letters and fine motor skills!  Anna has dot pages available for letters A thru Z.

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We like to create a sensory bin for each letter we study.  Here is our letter Oo bin with various Os and O objects! You can see more of our sensory bins here.

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I set up a simple clothesline from our door knob to a bed post.  I wrote letters on clothespins with a permanent marker and had my son match the clothespins to pieces of paper on the floor — we could have also put them in a basket or tub.  You can find the free letters printable to cut here.

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Here we are matching foam letters to alphabet cards set in alphabetical order on the floor!  He is so proud of himself after we’re done!

DSC06524-001We made a preschool letter book, coloring or painting the page with something that corresponds with that letter’s sound.  Here, my son is painting his Y page with yyyellow paint!  Anna has a whole list of ideas and free Block Letter pages.
Free printable ABC Lego Cards!  And lastly, we love creating letters with these free ABC Lego cards.  How fun for kids to create letters with various tools such as Legos or blocks or rocks!

These ideas are only suggestions of how you can make learning letters fun and exciting for children.  I hope that you found some easy and creative alphabet recognition activities and that they inspire you to create your own!

Amy Smith, M.Ed., writes about homeschooling at Wildflower Ramblings. As a former kindergarten teacher, she is passionate about interest-based learning and literacy. You can download her free eBook Early Literacy Stages or free ABC Lego Cards. You can connect with Amy on Instagram and on Pinterest.


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