Learning the ABCs is the foundation of reading and writing and something that you’ll want to start teaching your child early on.
Teaching toddlers the alphabet can often seem like a daunting task because you’ll want to create a strong foundation to build on for higher level skills.
The last thing you want to do is make letter learning stressful or frustrating. The goal is not to have them just memorize the letters and spit them back out, but to interact and grow from what they are learning now.
When Should You Start Teaching Your Toddlers the Alphabet?
The good news is that little ones are like sponges and they love to learn!
Your toddler may begin to recite the alphabet from memory by learning the ABC song closer to 18 months old, but recognizing and identifying the actual letters is a skill that may come later on.
You can start teaching toddlers the alphabet around age 2, but can even begin earlier than that.
Now that’s not to say that at two years old your child will know their whole alphabet. Two is simply the age that they can recognize a letter here and there.
Don’t overwhelm your child by showing them the entire alphabet at once. Work on one letter at a time and your toddler should pick it up quickly.
How to Teach Toddlers the Alphabet
Children typically start recognizing the letters in their own name first and then recognize all other letters after that.
Be sure to have your child look at both uppercase and lowercase letters when learning. Most children are taught all of the uppercase letters first, however, the lowers case letters are the ones that they will see more often when they read or see words.
Incorporating the Alphabet in Everyday Activities
One of the best things about teaching toddlers the alphabet is that you can include simple activities throughout the day. Some of my favorite ways to do this are:
If you aren’t already, reading to your children is so important and great for development. Exposing them to books helps them start to recognize letters.
Any and all books provide so much benefit for recognizing letters as your child gets older, but board books with large letters are best for teaching toddlers the alphabet. This book allows your toddler to trace the letters with their fingers and lift-the-flap fun to help with letter learning.
There are lots of different toys out there that help children learn their alphabet. Try finding toys like these letter matching puzzles that have your child match the shape of the letter.
Magnetic letters are also great. You can have them on the refrigerator so when you are cooking they can play with the letters.
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Name Learning Recognition
Writing your little one’s name out large on a piece of paper and going over each letter is a great way to help them recognize the letters in their name. You can have them trace the letters in different colors to make a “rainbow name” activity.
These name puzzles from Bloom Owl are a great way to get your child learning the letters of their name. They’ll love playing with the puzzle as they start to recognize the letters they see all the time.
Sing the ABC song
Singing the ABC song is a great way to help your toddler learn the sequence of the alphabet. When doing an activity like letter recognition, you can sing the song and point to the letter at the same time helping them to recognize the letter name with the letter shape.
Workbooks and Printable Worksheets
Workbooks and worksheets are great tools to help children learn the alphabet and teach them what letters look like. Even if they aren’t quite able to trace yet, exposing them to the letters is still a great idea.
By far the easiest resource for having your child learning letters and letter sounds is the Leap Frog shows on Netflix. They include Letter Factory, Phonics Farm, and more. If you have Netflix you can access these shows! My 20 month year old was reciting all of the letter sounds because he loves this show so much!
Games and Activities for Teaching the Alphabet
Since toddlers learn through play and exploration of their environment, they understand best when taking a hands-on approach to learning. Finding fun games and activities is a great way to teach toddlers the alphabet by making it an engaging learning experience.
Every child also has their own style when it comes to absorbing new information. Some children may learn best while jumping up and down, feeling objects with their fingers, or listening to a song.
Here are a few games and activities that incorporate sensory modalities to build on letter learning. They don’t involve actually writing letters, so they’re great for young toddlers as you teach them the alphabet.
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This activity is great for toddlers because it helps them to interact with letters and have fun. You can help them by asking them what letter they found and then associating the sound the letter makes.
Writing letters with shaving cream is one of the ways my mom helped me learn letters as a child. I remember having so much fun writing with shaving cream.
Bury some letters in rice (beans would work too!) and have your toddler find them. This is a great way to engage them with play and also help them learn to match up their letters. Another way you can change this up would be to have them match uppercase to lowercase and vice versa.
Feed the Alphabet Monster
Feed the alphabet monster is a fun and silly way to help teach toddlers the alphabet. You can leave the letters in order to start and then, later on, scramble them up. Another way to make this game a little more complex would be to have an uppercase and lowercase version of each letter.
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I love this game for teaching toddlers the alphabet! I think it is adorable and functional. You can help your toddler associate words with each letter like “A for apple” or “B for bear”. As they become more proficient, you can ask them to say a word that starts with the letter they picked up.
This is a multi-sensory activity using a dry erase board and dry erase marker or eraser to help your child learn to recognize letters. Tell them that you will tell them a letter to find. Then they must locate it on the board and erase it. This is great for little ones who don’t have control of writing actual strokes.
Teaching toddlers the alphabet doesn’t have to be complicated and learning through play is a great way to build a strong foundation for letter recognition. There are so many simple everyday activities that you can do to help them learn.
The best part is when you teach your older children the alphabet, they can help your younger children learn too!
I hope that you found some practical ways to incorporate teaching toddlers the alphabet in your everyday activities and some fun games to play!