Saturday, September 20, 2014

10 Ideas for Practicing the Alphabet at Home

Hi everyone! I'm joining in on one of my favorite linky parties today. Make sure you check out all of the other bright ideas for this month. This post is for both parents and teachers.   

I have been compiling ideas to share with the parents at my school to help them work with their kids at home. We have very involved parents who are always asking how they can help at home. I know, I'm spoiled! Even though parents are willing to work with their child, they may not have a clue about how to get started. My younger son, Owen, is starting the process of learning his alphabet too. He's starting to show interest and knows the letters in his name. He's starting to recognize letters as letters but will call out "P" when he sees an A or "B" when he sees an M. Since he's showing interest, I've been doing a few things with him at home to help him learn his letters. Up until a few months ago, he refused to call the O in his name an O. He insisted it was circle. So he'd read the letters in his name like this: "Circle, w, e, n." He also insisted that a T was a sword. I'm taking it slow and trying to make it hands-on and fun so he doesn't lose interest. He's SO NOT a flashcard kid. 

Annnywaaaay... if you are a mom, I hope this helps. If you are a teacher, here would be a link you could send your parents so there are ideas and pictures all in one place. These are all pretty generic ideas, but they are in one place with pictures so I hope it is useful. :) Most of these can be done with things you probably already have in your house.

1. Tactile Letters: Write a letter on a piece of paper. Have your child use a Q-tip to trace over the letter with glue. Then use pom-poms, cotton balls or glitter (or even salt) to cover the glue. After it has dried, have your child trace over the letter with a finger, saying the sound of the letter. Sing a simple silly song as your child is putting the pom-pons on. I always sing that leap frog song: "A! A says /a/. Every letter makes a sound. A says /a/." Simple, to the point. Use any tune that pops in your head. 

Owen actually loved this one! So did my older son. I love things that interest both boys.  

2. Make flashcards using note cards. Warm up with flashcards before choosing another activity. Spend about 2-3 minutes on the flashcards. Start with the letters that your child knows. Add one new letter at a time. As you add more new letters, it is important to review the old letters so your child will be able recognize the letter quickly and produce the sound easily. If your child does not remember a letter, tell him/her the letter name and it’s sound. Have your child repeat after you. 

3. Use magnetic letters. Call out a letter name or sound and have your child pull down that magnet. “Show me the letter A. A says /a/.”
If your child isn’t able to identify the letter A, point it out. Have him/her trace the letter with a finger. Mix up the letters and try A again. Do this 2 or three more times, each time saying “A says /a/.
If your child knows the letter shape, then just focus on the sound. Say, “Show me the letter that says /b/. After they correctly identify, follow up with , “yes, B says /b/. What does B say?”

3. Write the letter on paper ahead of time. Have your child make a “snake” with play dough. Then have your child build the letter using the play dough over the written letter. After your child has made the letter with play dough, have him/her make the sound as he/she traces over the letter with a finger. 

4. Help your child make letters using the pipe cleaners or Wikkistix. Cut some in half and keep some others long. After your child makes the letter, trace the letter and make the sound at least three times. Pipe cleaners and Wikkistix can be found at the dollar store, craft stores (Joanne's, Michaels) or Target.

5. Pour sand on a paper plate or tray. Say a letter or letter sound. Have your child trace the letter in the sand while saying the letter name and sound three times. Model correct formation for your child if necessary.

6. Write letters on several clothespins. Have your child pinch the clothespin as he/she says the letter sound. “A says /aaaa/” You could have letters written on the edge of a paper. Have your child place the clothespin on the correct matching letter.

7. Use a toy car and have your child “drive” along the letter. Show your child how to correctly form the letter using the car. (For example, for a K, you would start at the top and drive straight down. Then pick up the car and place it where the car is pictured. You would then drive diagonal.)

8. Have your child use a highlighter to find letters in the newspaper or magazines. Focus on one letter. Have your child hunt for that letter and count how many they can find. You could also use scissors to cut out letters in a newspaper or magazine. Letter searches were a big hit with my older son. 

9. Sidewalk hop: You can make this like a hopscotch or just some boxes of letters. Call out a letter or letter sound and have your child hop onto that letter. Your child could also choose which letter to jump on and then identify the letter or sound. You could also see how fast they can hop onto the letters and say the name or sound.

10. Letter Hunt: Write a letter on a sticky note. Stick the letters all around the house. Have your child search for the letters. When they find one, say the letter and it’s sound. If they get it right, they get to keep it. If not, you tell them the name and sound then “hide” it again. In the beginning, choose 3 letters, but write those same three letters on several sticky notes.

For more bright ideas, visit some of these other blogs:


  1. great ideas! I will definitely use some of them in my kindergarten classroom.


  2. So many great ideas in this post, thanks, Sarah! I love that all of them can be done at home and school!
    Aylin :)
    Learning to the Core