Poke the alphabet is a terrific hands-on alphabet activity for preschoolers! This literacy activity will help your child recognize letter names and sounds and strengthen small hand muscles to prepare for writing. Plus, it is a lot of fun. Let’s do this!
How do I help my child learn letter names?
I was curious about which letters my newly five-year-old could identify and which ones we wanted to spend more time on. So rather than drilling him with flashcards, I created this hands-on alphabet activity instead.
Turns out he dug it (no pun intended), and I got to become a little more familiar with which letters he could automatically recognize. Love when it is a win for all!
RELATED: Hands-on activities should be kept simple. Our activity cards are an excellent resource for easy ideas like this.
Incorporate the alphabet into your everyday
I like to keep alphabet toys on hand for the boys to use in their play. As my children become familiar with how letters look, they also begin to match letters with their letter names.
Letters are made from lines and curves, another introductory conversation with kids about the alphabet! According to this professional article about toddlers and preschoolers, play also helps self-regulation.
The more exposure children have to the alphabet, the more likely they will make connections.
How do you teach the alphabet to preschoolers in a fun way?
Learning the alphabet is fun when it is hands-on. We want our preschoolers to feel more comfortable than pressured as they become familiar with letters. We help children learn the alphabet by incorporating the whole child and all the learning methods into their play.
- Create letter puppets that are aligned to the letter sound. For example, Mr. T may have giant teeth, or Ms. B may be blowing a big bubble with bubble gum.
- Focus on one letter at a time for an entire week.
- Hang the letters introduced at eye level for children to revisit.
- Incorporate songs when learning the letters.
- Introduce one letter at a time when doing preschool at home.
- Movement when searching for letters.
- Read funny poems that are associated with the letter learned.
- Sensory play with these alphabet ice cube trays.
There is a bonus with hands-on alphabet activity!
This risk-free way to play helps me better understand the letters my preschooler can identify, and it also helps strengthen his hands for fine motor strength!
As my newly five-year-old squeezes the tongs, he prepares for writing and pencil grip. His job was to punch through the tissue paper and find the letter hidden inside.
I like to use simple ideas like this as a Breakfast Invitation to begin the day with play. First time hearing about Breakfast Invitations? Start here! Once you see how these learning games for kids inspire creativity, you won’t look back!
Let’s set this alphabet activity up.
I place alphabet magnets into each section of the muffin tin. Mine has enough room for 12 letters.
Cover the muffin tin with tissue paper. I flip it over to tape the paper to the bottom of the pan. Since the alphabet letters are magnetic, they stick! Genius, right?
Create a quick grid with painter’s tape to the right side of the setup. That way, your child will practice taking from the left and moving to the right – just like we read and write! Preschool activities are more meaningful when they are intentional, fun, and hands-on.
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Getting this hands-on alphabet activity started is a sinch! When finished, come back to our most popular morning activities for kids here.
No. However, we want our children to be exposed to the letters of the alphabet they are familiar with when entering Kindergarten. A helpful way to tell young children is to point out letters in their day and talk about them. For example, when you see a stop sign say, “Stop begins with the letter s. See how the s curves around like a snake. S stop sssssss.” This helps a child recognize the shape of the s along with hearing the letter’s sound. Keeping alphabet toys in the home will also help with letter recognition.
It is common for children (and adults) to shut down when there is too much new content at once. Rather than introduce all 26 letters simultaneously, begin by introducing the letters of your child’s name. These name recognition activities are a terrific starting place!
Think about the way your child learns. Does your child enjoy moving? Try Splash the Alphabet. Does your child love the outdoors? We have an alphabet activity using rocks. If your child enjoys sensory play, here is a fun frozen water alphabet activity that is a huge hit!