14+ simple activities to teach toddlers the alphabet

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Are you keen to lớn help your toddler recognise those first letters but not sure how lớn begin? Find out about phonics, starting first letters và how to begin teaching the alphabet khổng lồ toddlers.

When should a child recognize letters?

All children learn at their own pace. You should not be worried if your toddler doesn’t seem lớn be learning many letters or sounds. Most will begin recognising letters at age 3 or 4.

Before this just by having fun with letters in the toddler years, you will be preparing them to lớn learn letters và read those first words.

As a guide (and bearing in mind that things vary greatly from child lớn child), scientific research has found that:


Early Reading Milestones

Baby’s First Year (0-1 years)Is able khổng lồ recognise and imitate certain sounds.Respond to certain sounds.Engage with books by touching them or turning pages.Toddler (1-3 years)Have some favourite books that they request.Is able to lớn talk about the stories in the books they listen to.May point khổng lồ words on the page.Talks about pictures in the book.Preschool (3-4 years)Identify some letter shapes and make some letter-sound matches.Memorise & sing alphabet songs.Attempt khổng lồ write out letters.Recognise signs as being whole words.Use known letters khổng lồ spell out words.Recognise their name written out.Year 1 or Kindergarten (5-6 years)Understand that print is read left-to-right & top-to-bottom.Recognize letters & letter-sound matches.Write all letters of the alphabet.Blend sounds together and read first words.Identify some words by sight.Identify rhymes & making up their own rhyming words.Begin to lớn match spoken words with written ones.Write words they use & hear often.

Early exposure to lớn books, rhymes, words and printed words all goes a long way.

How vì chưng I teach my toddler the alphabet?

Early learning is all about having fun & learning through play. Toddlers should be enjoying themselves so much that they don’t even realise they are learning.

Simple things lượt thích reading to lớn them, singing to them & pointing out the letters all around them, can help.

It will make them more familiar with the different letter shapes và the world of words that surrounds us. We’ve included 10 fun & interactive ways you can get them started below. But first, a little about how khổng lồ teach phonics.


Is it better lớn teach upper or lower case letters first?

This depends on which letter case your child’s school is using first, but we believe it’s best to lớn start with lower case letters.

Lower case letters have different shapes lớn upper case letters. By teaching both at the same time, learning the alphabet becomes harder. Imagine that for your toddler there are now 2 shapes to learn for every sound, instead of 1.

Books are all written in lower case letters so we feel that they’re the best place to lớn start. Hopefully they can begin to recognise the shapes of the letters in the books they read every day.

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How vày you teach phonics sounds?

Sound it out

Phonics is all about teaching your toddler the SOUNDS that letters make. For example for ‘a, e, o’ the sounds are ‘ah, eh, oh’.

These are different from the names of those letters, A, E, O which are pronounced Ai, Ee, Oh.

Keep the sound simple

Take each letter & show your toddler the sound it makes when it’s being read. For vowels this is quite simple as it’s a loud sound:

a – ahu – uh

For consonants it can be trickier as they are quiet sounds. Our instinct is to say consonant sounds with a vowel. For example we would say ‘s’ is ‘suh’ or ‘c’ is ‘cuh’.

However, recent studies have found that the addition of ‘uh’ onto the over of the letter sound may not help in the long term. This is because you are giving 1 letter, 2 sounds: one for ‘s’ và the other for ‘uh’.

When they go khổng lồ blend letters into words later on it can sometimes be confusing. So for consonants try to keep the sound as simple & as pure lớn the letter sound as possible. For example:

s – should be ‘sssss’ rather than ‘suh’t – should be a short ‘t t t’ rather than ‘tuh’m – should be ‘mmmm’ rather than ‘muh’

Name words that the letter starts with

Flashcards like the ones listed below can really help with this. Name the word that the letter begins with. Ask your toddler if they can think of other words starting with that letter. (Help them out with this).

e.g. ‘c’ is for ‘car’. ‘c’ is also for ‘cat’ and ‘can’ và ‘caterpillar’.

Maybe you can both spot some things around the room that start with the letter sound you’re exploring.

Blend the letter sounds (for older children)

After your child is very familiar with most of the letter sounds, they can start to combine these sounds together. This is how they sound out their first words.

They’ll start with 2 letter words và build up. For example:

‘a’ – ‘ah’ and ‘t’ make ‘at

So you can see that by teaching your toddler the letter sounds in the simplest & purest form, it helps them to lớn combine the sounds together into words later on.

They can soon move onto letter blending and eventually reading words và even books.

Here are 10 fun ways khổng lồ start teaching the alphabet to lớn toddlers


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Make a song and dance of it

There are lots of fun alphabet learning games, apps & online tools out there. Here we’ve included a video of the group 1 letters from Jolly Phonics – one of our favourite phonics systems.

Here each letter sound is combined with an action and a tuy nhiên to help toddlers remember it.

For example the letter ‘a’ become “‘a-a-a’ ants on my arm“. Toddlers can sing this little đoạn clip while pinching ‘ants’ up their arm.

These fun little song and dance routines can make letters more memorable. Toddlers will have fun singing the tune, doing the action and ultimately remembering the letter sound.