Do you have a young child focused on learning their letters? Here are some creative ways you can use to teach your toddler the alphabet and have fun at the same time!
- Arrange Pretzel Sticks. Get a few packs of pretzel sticks and learn letters together during snack time. Give your child a few pretzel sticks and show him how to arrange them into letters. Each time he shapes a letter from the pretzel sticks, he gets to eat a pretzel (or part of one, depending on how large they are…).
- Make Sugar Cookies. Use alphabet cookie cutters to make cookies that look like letters. Teach your child the letters as he helps decorate the cookies. Enjoy eating one or two together at the end!
- Make an Alphabet Book. Put a letter and an image of a word that begins with that letter on each page. Leave room for your child to draw more images of other things that begin with the same letter as he learns more vocabulary.
- Play “I Spy”. This works very well in the car, but can work in the house too. Tell your child he has to look for something that starts with an “A” and tell you when he finds something. Then he moves on to “B” and so forth, until he has been through the whole alphabet, identifying objects associated with each letter (expect him to need help with some of the harder to find letters, like “z” and “x”, etc.
- Trace. Print out a sheet of paper with the alphabet in large font (or put half the alphabet on one side and the other half on the back to make the letters even larger). Laminate the paper, give your child a dry erase marker, and let him start tracing!
- Play with Alphabet Blocks. These are great for helping kids learn how to spell simple words. Initially, use them for letter identification (“Can you show me an “A”?). Then, once your child is familiar with the alphabet, begin giving him groups of 3 blocks and showing him how different words can be made by changing one letter (start with simple words, like “cat”, “bat”, “sat”, etc.). Soon, let your toddler start creating his own words. Even if he comes up with combinations that don’t work, he’ll still be practicing how to manipulate groups of letters, and, soon enough, with your guidance and praise when he succeeds, he’ll start making real words…
- Make Alphabet Ornaments. Make salt dough ornaments in the shape of letters. Let your child help decorate them while practicing how to identify each one. Hang the letters on a Christmas tree, on door knobs, or other places around the house. Put a few nails in the side of a child’s bookcase and let your child hang up a different combination of letter ornaments each day to practice making words.
- Use Play Dough. After your child knows the names of the letters, ask him to try making them with play dough. He’ll enjoy the sensory experience, and can experiment with different ways of making the same letter (rolling and shaping the dough, cutting it, making an impression, etc.)
- Match Alphabet Magnets. Tape small pieces of paper with the letters on them to your refrigerator. Give your child a set of alphabet magnets and show him how to match the magnets with the letters on the refrigerator, saying the names of the letters as he goes.
- Play Letter Hopscotch. Draw a hopscotch board. Put letters in each square instead of numbers. Either find a letter block that has the same letters as the ones on the hopscotch board, or write the letters on small pieces of paper and put them in a cup. Pick a letter by rolling the block or taking a slip from the cup and call it out. Your toddler then needs to hop to the square with that letter. Repeat until your child is adept at identifying those letters, and then begin again with a new set of letters.
- Sew Felt Letters. Make a set of stuffed felt letters. Simply trace two of every letter on pieces of colored felt, cut them out, pair them together, sew around the sides and stuff with cotton before completing the hem. Give them to your toddler to play with them and practice combining them into words.
I hope some of you find these ideas helpful. Have fun with your toddlers while they’re still little!