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Tips for Teaching Preschool Children the Alphabet

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 3/2/2012

Use pudding as finger paint! Play a game. Read a book. Go on a "treasure hunt" for an alphabet letter. You can do preschool homework customized to your child's ability. Give your child an assignment and monitor the work while you are folding laundry or cooking.

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    Preschool homework activities for learning the alphabet do not necessarily have to be sit-at-the-table types of events! You can reinforce recognition and sounds of alphabet letters on which your child is working by playing games, reading specific books together or having simple conversations while riding in the car, folding laundry or doing the dishes.

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    A Word Game

    Here’s a game that can be adapted according to whatever alphabet letter you want your child to learn. This will also get your child thinking and building vocabulary. Play “Where can I find it?” Tell your child that you are going to ask him/her about words that all begin with the letter you are reinforcing. Your child has to tell you where they can find it. There may be more than one answer depending on your child’s prior knowledge or experience. For example: Where can I find an apple? The child may respond, “On a tree” or “At the grocery” or “In the refrigerator”. Encourage more than one answer. Provide answers for those that your child doesn’t know.

    Where Can I Find It?

    As you say each word, emphasize the beginning sound so your child can hear the sound of the letter. Use some words that may seem difficult. You may be surprised about what your child already knows!

    Here are some examples for a few letters:thumbnail-2.aspx 

    • a: apple, art, actors, advertisement, ape, alligator,
    • h: hospital, hyena, help, hamburger, hill, hiccup
    • m: medicine, monkey, mittens, mountain, meadow
    • p: puppy, pickle, peppermint, police, peanut butter
    • y: yard, yellow, yell, yarn, yodel
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    Get the Feeling!

    Tactile Work

    1. Use pudding as fingerpaint! Cover your table with plastic and put your child in clothing that can get messy. Ask your child to draw letters in the pudding as if it is fingerpaint.

    2. Have some play-dough or clay on hand and ask your child to make a specific letter and keep saying the letter as you make it.

    3. Use buttons or coins to make the letter.

    4. Put water in a plastic dish. Use an old paintbrush and “paint” letters on the sidewalk or patio outside.

    5. Use a small baking pan with sides and pour salt or sand in it. Ask your child to draw the letter you call out with his/her index finger.

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    Let's Look Around!

    1. Use an old newspaper or magazine and search for a specific letter. Cut or tear them out and glue them on big paper. Or you may just choose to circle the letter with a red marker or crayon. Say the letter as it is circled. Then count how many letters were found.

    2. Take a trip to the library and find a book with a specific letter in the title. Then read the book together.

    3. Use scrap paper cut into small squares and write the specific letter on each piece. Hide them around the house and ask your child to find them. When he/she brings the paper to you ask them to tell you what letter it is.

    4. As you are driving, have your child try to find a specific letter on billboards or signs.

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    No matter what technique you use for learning the alphabet with your child, the child will learn that you care about them. They will know that you value learning. Preschool homework can be fun and will set the stage for good homework habits.

References

  • Ideas and activities come from the author's twenty-five years of teaching experience.