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It’s hard to believe I’ve been involved in education for nearly two decades now. I’ve gone from working one-on-one with struggling students to a classroom teacher, from tutoring small groups to teaching “mommy and me” sign language and early literacy classes. Again and again, I come back to working with preschool and primary grade students (and their parents) because it’s a crucial time to instill a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.
In my one-on-one chats with parents, I’ve noticed one skill comes up more often than others: learning letter names and letter sounds.
In my mind, the best early literacy activity is simply reading aloud to our kids. There is no program or app that has a better track record than the powerful connection of a caring adult, a good book, and a willing child.
Click here for our favorite read aloud resources.
However, in my experience both as a teacher and a mom, some skills do need a little extra direct instruction. When it comes to teaching letters to toddlers and preschoolers, I will always recommend hands-on, FUN learning activities.
From an early age, our younger daughter showed us that she preferred choosing her own activities. By rotating her toys and setting out invitations to play every afternoon, she has become confident at directing her own learning.
What is a parent’s role in teaching letter names and letter sounds?
It’s simple, really.
Filling your home with books, stocking your toy closet with open-ended toys, and understanding how your child learns best will go a long way toward early literacy success.
So which books and toys are best for letter recognition?
(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you. You can see our full disclosure policy here.)
By nature, most young children are hands-on learners. Our favorite TACTILE (touch) letter recognition activities are:
Wooden Letter Puzzle
ABC Cookie Cutters
We also use cut-up pool noodles for a tactile spelling activity. You can start with just single letters for toddlers and preschoolers. As your kids get older, start adding in other spelling rules like double consonants, blends, chunks, etc. (Isn’t it fun when an activity can grow with our kids?)
My older daughter (a visual learner) also loved these two-piece letter puzzles and our ABC books:
My younger daughter (an auditory learner) loved this CD and our sign language DVDs/CDs:
Finally, some of our favorite letter recognition activities come out in our seasonal play. Leftover plastic eggs are great for making homemade ABC games!
Download our plastic egg activities here.
It is my sincere hope that this post has sparked some ideas for letter recognition activities that you can do at home! If you need MORE ideas, I would love for you to join our free Resource Library.