Learning Letters

Most children between 3-5 years old are starting to recognized letters.   Recognizing letters involves knowing the name of the letter and also learning the sound of that letter.   In my experience children find it easier to learn uppercase/capital/big letters first.   Uppercase letters have more straight lines and are more distinguishable from one another.  They also represent the majority of the letters in print in the environment (on street signs, grocery stores, etc.)   There are many theories on which letters to work on first like M,S,F,A,P,T,C,I…. I have found that most children start learning the letters of their name first because it is very important and meaningful to them.
Here are some ideas/activities to try to encourage letter recognition at home:
1.  Post the letters of the alphabet in your child’s room or somewhere in your house. This will help to draw their interest/attention to the letters. The letters in alphabetic order are displayed in the preschool classroom at all times.
2.  Singing the Alphabet song is the beginning step in the recognition of letters.   Teach your child this song, and he/she will memorize it.   To start letter recognition, you can sing the song with your child and point to the letters of the alphabet as you sing them.   This begins to focus your child on the visual letter.
3.  When you are at home or out, constantly point out letters.   Talk with your child about the name of the letter, the sound(s) the letter makes, and make association of the letter to another letter.  For example you see an EXIT sign.   You can say, “That is the EXIT sign.  EXIT starts with the letter E.   Your name, Elliot, starts with an E also.  Can you think of anything that also starts with E?   egg, Easter, Ed, elbow.”
4.  Teach the letters of your child’s name.   Write the name.  Post the name in your child’s room.   Sing a song using to teach the letters of the child’s name…I make up a song like…”My name is Ben…B-E-N spells Ben..Ben is the best name!”   Ask your child to find his/her name.   Ask your child to spell his/her name.
5.  Try providing activities to encourage kids to form the letters (get a feel for the letter) such as:
        -Make letters out of playdough–print out a letter and have child form the letter with playdough on top of the paper
        -Cut letters out of sandpaper or fabric and create “Feely Alphabet Cards”
        -Read Alphabet books with feely letters
        -use toys and objects to create letters such as blocks, legos, sticks, pretzels, cotton balls, stickers
        -Place Magnetic letters on the refrigerator or a magnetic board for your child to play with
        -Give your child a letter puzzle to complete
        -Paint and trace letters on paper whenever possible
6.  Create activities to identify letters like:
        -Alphabet Slot Game–make letter cards(or put the letters on disks, game pieces, caps, lids) and let them place the letter cards in a slot in a box or container. Encourage them to                          name the letter as they put the card in the slot
        -Alphabet Search–This sensory game involves filling a plastic tub with rice, beans, water (any sensory material) and place plastic or foam letters in the tub.   Let the child explore and                  find the letters.  Name the letters as they find them.  Other interesting things can be added to the sensory tub and the child can sort  Letter/Not a letter.
        -Create or purchase Alphabet Cards…match magnetic or foam letters to the cards, Find letters in your child name from a group of cards, sort cards into groups…letters with straight                   line or letters with curved lines, etc.  Use letter cards to put letters in order of the alphabet.
        -Create an Alphabet Memory Game…take turns finding 2 matching letters
        -Put letter stickers or labels on toys(matchbox car) or blocks(or use alphabet blocks if you have them).  Use these toys/blocks to recognize letters.
            “Give me the M car?”
            “Lets park the Alphabet cars in order from A-Z.”
            “Lets make your name with our Alphabet cars”
        -For an Easter activity…take plastic Easter Eggs, write one letter of the alphabet on each egg.   Hide the eggs and have your child have an egg hunt.   When they find an egg, ask them to           name the letter.   For a challenge ask them to find eggs with letters in his/her name.
Have fun learning letters with your child!