Wondering about the order for teaching letters to your little ones? I’m on it!
I feel as though I am always writing about waiting to teach letter recognition. Wait and let little hands get strengthened by other activities. Wait until little minds have had ample time to hear different words and sounds. But a day will come when you SHOULD teach your little ones their alphabet letters, of course.
Whether it is when they are 3, 4, 5, or 6, at one point or another, they will be ready, and teaching letter recognition will be the name of the game. So, when they are ready, what is the order for teaching letters?
Don’t worry—I have an opinion on that too!
In fact, I have an entire learn-to-read program that includes letter recognition! How Wee Read covers it all, from rhyming to reading in 60 sequential, simple, and beautiful lessons:
- Step One: Phonological Awareness (7 lessons)
- Step Two: Letters, Sounds, and Blending (12 lessons)
- Step Three: Special Rules (5 lessons)
- Step Four: Familiar Readers (36 lessons)
You can grab a FREE Sample of How Wee Read, including beautiful letter cards that focus on the first grouping of letters—s, a, t, i, p, n—right here:
If you are more of a watcher than a reader, I have created a seven-minute video for you all about teaching letter recognition to young children. You can watch right here (or simply keep reading below if you would rather):
And just in case the video above doesn’t work for you, you can also watch it right here on YouTube.
What Order to Introduce the Alphabet Letters
When I was in the Kindergarten classroom, I did not teach letter recognition in alphabetical order. I began with “name letters” as these letters hold a very important meaning to children. So for “Sammy,” he learned all about s, a, m, and y.
Once children know their name letters well, I would introduce the other alphabet letters (and sounds) in this order:
At first, relatively quickly, I would introduce the first row of letters, maybe over a week. Then we do lots of activities playing with those letters: their sounds, shapes, and names. Once they are mastered, we add in the next row. Building and growing, slow and steady.
Starting with the lowercase is helpful, and something I have begun doing—though I haven’t always. Clearly, little ones need to know both upper and lowercase letters, but since so much of the print in our everyday lives is lowercase, I find it beneficial to start in that way.
The letter order is similar to the way the letters are taught in the Jolly Phonics Program. By teaching the letters in this manner, children are able to begin forming words very quickly. After learning the first six letters, kids can make words in the “at,” “an,” “it,” “ip,” “ap,” and “in” word families.
- s, a, t, i, p, n
- c, k, e, h, r
- m, d, g, o
- l, f, b, q, u
- j, z, w
- v, y, x
Introducing the letters and letting little ones begin to make words almost right away creates a huge sense of pride. And since you waited to introduce the letters (you did wait, right?) they are absolutely ready and will be catching on right away, grasping those letter names and sounds easily. If not, perhaps wait a little longer.
I know it is hard (trust me, I know!) but waiting until your little one is ready will save you both mounds of frustration, and ensure your little one loves learning. There is no rush.
Of course, ideas and games for introducing letters can be found all over How Wee Learn!
Games to Help Little Ones Learn Letters
Ready to start helping your little ones learn their letters? Here are some great ideas and fun games that will have those letters mastered in no time!
Digging Up Letters – Grab some dump trucks, diggers, and pebbles and “dig up” some letter-learning fun with your preschooler! This post shares more information about the order for teaching the letters.
Flying into Letter Recognition – This fun one just requires painter’s tape and construction paper. Pop that first group of alphabet letters (s, a, t, i, p, n) on the ground using painter’s tape and let those little ones throw paper airplanes to learn their ABCs!
Swat the ABC Balloons – We love using balloons for fun learning games. This alphabet activity is absolutely perfect for preschoolers as it engages the whole body. And we all know 3-year-olds LOVE to learn with their whole body.
Zoom and Sort the ABCs – All you need is painter’s tape and some toy cars for this one. This one uses painter’s tape in a different way; the painter’s tape forms the road while the cars hold the letters. This letters activity for preschoolers is great for introducing capital and lowercase letters.
Pipecleaner and Popsicle Stick Letters – Forming letters with pipecleaners and popsicle sticks on a homemade sticky board – popsicle sticks can be used for so many purposes!
Skeleton Bone Writing (bending Qtips!) – We use Qtips a lot over here for learning games like this one. Bending those Qtips is a great way to make the curvy parts of the letters. Having children manipulate objects to form letters is a very powerful learning opportunity.
Re-useable Alphabet Paper Chain Games – We use construction paper a lot to make simple paper chains. I like to add velcro to make these chains reusable again and again. Little words can be built and played with all day long.
Mail Play! – Mailing friends their “name letters” is a great way to practice letter recognition! Matching letters of the alphabet is a great place to start with letter recognition. First, little ones recognize which letters match, then they can practice forming the letters from a sample, and finally, they can produce it on their own. The order for teaching letters can be the same for all of these steps.
An A-MAZE-ing Letter Learning Game – Grab that painter’s tape once more! This time we made a fun maze for learning our alphabet letters.
Now that you are armed with some fun games, have an idea about the order for teaching letters, and have waited for your little one to be ready… it is time to let them learn those letters!
Have fun with this big step with your little ones. And remember, slow is always better. Follow your child’s lead and keep it light and fun. This is the beginning of a lifetime of learning and a love of reading.
For absolutely everything you need to teach your child to read—from rhyming to reading—take a peek at How Wee Read right here:
Good luck! And remember, I am only an email away with any questions!