Letter recognition or the ability to identify letters is an important component of early literacy. Let’s look into what letter recognition is all about, and then I will share some fun letter recognition activities. Don’t forget to download the free printable letter signs to use for all the fun activities.
What is Letter Recognition?
When kids learn to identify letters, they learn to
- notice that letters of the alphabet all have different shapes
- match letters that are alike
- understand that some letters are in their names
- notice that letters are in environmental print
- understand that letters have an orientation
- notice that some letters have similar parts (tails, hooks, dots, slants, tunnels, curves, etc.)
When they can begin to distinguish individual letters, they can begin to produce some of their names or sounds.
How to Teach Letter Recognition
Kids learn letters and their sounds through varied and repeated exposure, and there are many playful ways to teach the alphabet.
Do Letters Need to be Taught in a Specific Order?
No, you do not need to teach letters in a specific order. One of the best ways to begin with letter recognition activities is to start with the most important letter to a child – the first letter of his or her name.
As children begin to recognize the letters in their name with a variety of name activities, you can begin to look at additional letters that are important to them. Look at letters in environmental print and some of the most common letters used in our language (for example, t is more common than x)
Capital versus Lowercase Letters
Some early childhood educators teach uppercase letters first because uppercase letters are easier for young kids to write. I think that it is best to teach uppercase and lowercase letters at the same time.
When you look at print in books, newspapers, etc., the majority of the text is made with lowercase letters. Don’t confuse young kids. I feel it’s best to teach them the correct usage of cases from the start.
Letter and Sounds
Knowing the sound that a letter makes is really more important than knowing its name, so it is important to introduce the letter and its sound from the beginning.
When my son was little, his private occupational therapist was upset because he identified some letters by their sound rather than their name. She was insistent that he HAD to know the names of the letters and didn’t understand why I was excited that he knew the sounds. It was time for a change, so this just encouraged me to find another occupational therapist for him.
Playful Letter Recognition Activities with Free Printable
Are you looking for some fun letter activities to help your kids learn to recognize letters of the alphabet? I created these free printable signs and want to show you a bunch of ways to use them.
The signs are designed so that they have an uppercase printed on the front and a lowercase printed on the back. You can create signposts with a cut pool noodle and popsicle sticks (instructions included with printable) or you can use them without signposts.
Here are some fun ways to use the signs.
Find Letters in Your Name
Put some letter signs on the floor with some toy cars. Kids can drive their car in a circle around the letters that are part of their names. For more multi-sensory input, encourage them to say the sound of the letter as they drive around it.
Extensions: Kids can drive around the letter of the week. a letter from a friend’s name, or letters on a word card.
Sort Letters with similar parts
Kids can find letters with similar elements and can sort them. For example, they can find all the letters with dots, straight lines, slanted lines, circles, tunnels, hooks, tails, etc.
Uppercase and Lowercase Match
Print two sets of signs and prepare sets of some letters. Kids can drive from an uppercase letter to a lowercase letter.
Extensions: Provide some masking tape and they can create a path on the floor for their car to follow from one letter to the next.
Prep some sign tents for your kids and provide some toy pickup trucks or dump trucks. Kids can place the tents in the back of their trucks and deliver the letters.
Kids can deliver an uppercase letter to a lowercase letter (or visa versa) They can sort the letters by appearance (those with line, curves, circles, tunnels, hooks, tails, dots, etc.)
Use the abc signs in the block area to label buildings or structures.
Cars & Directions
Create roads with masking tape and add abc signs at the crossroads. Give directions (turn right at the m) to your kids or have them give directions to you. Make the sound of the letter as you pass it.
Extension: Create maps of your roads.
Knock Down Letters
Place some signs in a row. Roll a ball and knock some over. Kids can identify and say the sounds of the letters they knock over.
Extensions: Challenge kids to say the name of something that starts with a letter that was knocked over.
When kids master letter recognition and learn their sounds, you can even use the signs to create words.
Get Your Free Printable
Are you ready to start trying some of these fun letter recognition activities for preschool today? The free printable signs are part of my multi-sensory alphabet activity guide. Click on the button below, fill out the form, and I will be happy to send the free printable directly to your inbox.