written by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• edited by: Jonathan Wylie
• updated: 8/2/2012
Children need the opportunity to practice newly-learned skills, and these preschool alphabet activities provide just that. Whether it is in the classroom, or at home, preschoolers will have fun and learn at the same time! Read on to find out more.
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Determine Content Delivery Method
For children beginning to read and write, learning the alphabet is one of the first steps. Before beginning any preschool alphabet activities, however, the method of delivering the content must be chosen. Perhaps you intend to focus on one letter every week. Or, instead, you may decide to tie alphabet lessons in with other themed activities. Either way, the plan for teaching letter recognition should be laid out ahead of time, so that a clear plan is evident.
While such activities are great for an initial introduction to the letter, it is important to remember that repetition is the next most important step in helping children learn the alphabet, and eventually learn how to read and write. Through consistent practice, children will be able to master their newly acquired skills of letter recognition and identifying or replicating letter sounds. Having a variety of suggestions for things you can do throughout the year to help children practice is helpful. The preschool alphabet activities offered below provide just that opportunity.
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Activities You can Use
Balloons and string cut into 2' sections
Black Sharpie marker
Hula Hoops (one for each balloon)
Blow up each balloon, and tie a string so that it is hanging down. Use the black Sharpie to write one letter on each balloon. Use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters. Tie one letter balloon to each Hula Hoop. Scatter the Hula Hoops and balloons around a small area. Give the children each a bean bag. Call out a letter and ask the children to toss their bean bags into the Hula Hoop circle attached to the correct letter. As a variation, you can add a large piece of tape and then write a letter directly on the bean bag. Have children then toss the bean bag into the corresponding circle for a matching activity. You can even require the children to make the letter sound before tossing.
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Search and Find
Once children have learned a new letter, you will often find that they are excited to point it out every time they encounter it - whether it be on a sign at the grocery store, in a favorite story shared with a grown-up, on a toy bin in the classroom or on the front of a cereal box at home. Capitalize on that! Make finding letters a game. Here are some suggestions:
Start a sticker chart. Give the children a sticker every time they recognize a particular letter. Or have a sticker chart for the entire alphabet. See which letter they find most often in a particular day. As a variation, you can use tally marks instead of stickers. When you are finished, incorporate a math lesson into the mix. Count the number of tallies for each letter. Then do some comparisons (Which letter had the most? Which had the least? Did any have the same amount?)
Some teachers like to use Wikki Stix for search and find activities. Obtain a copy of a favorite classroom story in the big book size. Allow the children to come up to the pages one at a time and use the Wikki Stix to outline a particular letter.
Using highlighters can be a lot of fun! Give students a printed copy of familiar text. Ask them to use the highlighter to note each time a particular letter has been used. Display a larger copy of the same text on the overhead, Whiteboard or chalkboard. Go over the text together to be certain all of the uses of the letter have been found.
Give each student a large copy of a particular letter outline. You can use both the uppercase version and the lowercase version of the letter. (A sample is provided below.) Challenge the preschoolers to fill the letters with pictures or items which begin with the same letter. For instance, the letter C could be filled with pieces of cereal glued to the center, or pictures cut from a magazine showing cats, cookies, carrots and so on. Some children may even choose to draw their pictures. Display all of the artwork around the room as samples of just how creative your little ones
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Another favorite to add to your list of preschool alphabet activities is spending time tracing the alphabet letters. By tracing the shapes repeatedly, your children will soon begin to recognize the shape consistently, and will transfer this knowledge as they begin writing the letter on their own.
If you have other favorite activities for practicing the alphabet with preschool children, be sure to leave them in the comments section below! Remember - practice makes perfect!