Learning Letters: Games & Fun

Magical Disappearances
Original Author Unknown
Use this multi-sensory activity to improve letter recognition, sound recognition, and letter formation. Have each youngster take a turn dipping a finger into water and writing a letter of the alphabet on the board. Once the letter is formed, his friends say its name and sound in unison. As the letter fades away, youngsters will be delighted with this disappearing act. You’ll find this technique especially effective when E’s “evaporate”, It’s become “invisible”, and V’s “vanish” If you are a home daycare provider and do not have a large blackboard, a small one will have the same effect.

Original Author Unknown
Put a child’s hanging shoe holder to interesting use with this suggestion. Drop a letter cutout into each pocket of the shoe holder. Have children take turns selecting a pocket, reaching into it, feeling the letter, and naming it or its sound. This is a letter game everyone loves to play!

Crossing the ABC River
Original Author Unknown
Little adventurers will step gingerly across this rushing river–if, that is, they recognize the letters of the alphabet. Divide your children into two groups. Have the groups sit in parallel lines, facing each other Explain that between the two lines is a deep and swirling river. Randomly place a generous supply of alphabet cards, or “stepping-stones”, in this space between the groups. Designate one group to be the “callers” and one to be the “steppers.” To play the game, a child on one side of the river calls out stepping-stone letters as the child opposite him steps from letter to letter. If a child steps onto a letter other than the one called, he “falls into the river” and must begin again from his original position. When everyone has safely crossed the river, the steppers return to their original places and become the callers so the callers can become the steppers.

Around the World
Original Author Unknown
Have your youngsters sit in a circle. Choose one student to stand behind a neighboring student. For these two youngsters, flash an alphabet card. The first one of them to correctly identify the letter stands behind the next student in the circle. The other student is seated. Play continues in this manner. Reward the kids efforts with stickers or alphabet stamps on their hands. Here are some more activities to learn the alphabet in a fun way.

Alphabet Dice
Original Author Unknown
Make an alphabet die for this game of luck. Cut two half-gallon milk cartons in half. Push one carton bottom inside the other to form a large cube. Cover the cube with contact paper “before” labeling each of its sides with a different letter of the alphabet. To use the cube, youngsters take turns rolling the die and naming the letter.

Digging the Alphabet
Original Author Unknown
This ongoing center activity is one your youngsters will definitely dig! Nearly fill a dishpan with Styrofoam packing pieces. In the pieces, bury several plastic letters identical to the letter currently being studied. Also bury several small objects with names that begin with that letter. Once the center is prepared, have the kids take turns digging into the packing pieces to uncover all the hidden treasures. As a student names the letters and identifies the objects, he’ll be getting valuable reinforcement of beginning sounds. As you introduce the next letter, change the items in the dishpan to correspond.
*Note: Do not leave packing pieces out where toddlers can put them in their mouths.

Sunny Prints
Original Author Unknown
Got a sunny day? Try this bright suggestion. On a sheet of dark blue construction paper, have each child arrange a length of heavy gift cord to resemble a letter. Then, have him place it in a sunny indoor spot for several hours. Late in the day, each youngster lifts his string to reveal his sun-print letter.

Milk Carton Letter Sort
Original Author Unknown
Contact covering and half-gallon milk or juice cartons are the main ingredients in this versatile alphabet-sorting center. Cut away the upper part of each of 26 milk cartons, leaving four-inch-high boxes. Cover each box with contact covering. Label each with a different lowercase alphabet letter. For letter matching, provider 26 cards (approximately 3 1/2″ X 7″), each of which has been labeled with a different uppercase letter. Or, for initial letter matching, provide a small toy or object representative of each letter of the alphabet. To use the center, a student places a matching card or object in each box.

Writing in the Sand
Original Author Unknown
If you’re interested in providing your youngsters with open-ended writing opportunities, you’re going to love what happens when they get their hands on these boxes. For each youngster, provide a shoe box (or something similar) that has been partially filled with sand. Also provide a varied selection of unusual writing utensils. Some things to include are: bottle tops, plastic knives, and unsharpened pencils. After selecting the writing utensil of his choice, have each youngster write a letter in the sand in his shoe box. He’ll soon find that it’s a lot of fun to “erase” one letter and try another.

Touch and Know
Original Author Unknown
Blindfolds and oversized cardboard letters help your youngsters get a feel for the alphabet in this tactile game. Prepare several ten-inch letter cutouts and place them in a decorated box. In turn, have each child wear a blindfold as he draws a letter from the box, feels its shape, and identifies the letter by touch.

Looking Up Letters
Original Author Unknown
Looking for a really unusual approach to letter review? Try this suggestion as a before or after nap transition. With your room completely darkened, use a flashlight to “write” a letter on the ceiling for your youngsters, to identify. Then give each youngster a turn to do the same. Letter review is really looking up!

Yippie Skippy Tune
Original Author Unknown
Interested in getting your youngsters out of their seats and into motion? Then this singing game may be just what you’re looking for! Label a seasonal cutout, such as a seashell, for each uppercase and lowercase letter of the alphabet. Laminate if desired. Scatter the shell cutouts face down on the floor. At your signal, have youngsters skip around among the cutouts singing a modified version of “Skip to my Lou.” On the final word, “darling”, each student picks up the nearest shell, takes a look at the letter, and identifies it when called upon. Students return the cutouts to their face down positions on the floor and repeat the activity with another verse of the song. It’s easy to convert this idea into a game for any holiday or special occasion. Just replace the shell cutouts with others to suit the occasion and replace the word “seashell” in the song.
Lost my seashell.
What’ll I do?
Lost my seashell.
What’ll I do?
Lost my seashell.
What’ll I do?
Skip to my Lou, my darling.

Lucky Charms
Original Author Unknown
Charm your youngsters into beginning-sound practice with this magically simple center. Draw six 2″ circles on several 5″ x 8″ index cards. Program each circle with a different letter of the alphabet. Fill a small plastic pot with plastic party-favor charms. (Be certain that there is at least one charm for each letter on the cards.) To use the center, a student chooses a card, looks in the pot for charms that correspond to the letters on his card, and places a charm in each circle. He may continue playing by selecting another card and repeating the activity.

Letters by Leaps and Bounds
Original Author Unknown
Take a giant step toward letter identification with this gross motor alternative. Each time a new letter is introduced, use colorful masking tape or plastic tape to create a giant version of that letter on your playroom floor or kitchen floor. Then instruct youngsters to “walk, hop, crawl, or otherwise move” along the lines of the letter. While it’s a few small steps for each child, it’s one giant leap for letter recognition.


Original Author Unknown

This alphabetical twist to an all-American classic can make letter-recognition practice your youngsters’ favorite pastime. Use colorful masking tape or plastic tape to outline a large baseball diamond, three bases, and home plate in the available space on your floor. Also prepare a set of alphabet cards, and five playing cards individually labeled “single”, “double”, “triple”, “home run”, and “out”. Store the playing cards in a container. Divide your youngsters into two teams. The first player from one team comes to the plate, stand in the pitcher’s position and flash an alphabet card. If the player correctly names the letter, have him reach into the container without looking and remove a playing card. He takes the number of bases indicated or is out. The next player comes to bat. The first team continues playing until three outs are
accumulated. Then the other team comes to bat to play in the same manner.
Batter up!

ABC Stepping Stones

Original Author Unknown

Cut out medium sized rectangles (just about the size of a child’s shoe). On each shoe-sized rectangle, write a letter of the alphabet. Laminate each card or cover front and back with contact paper. Tape each card onto the floor in a path leading around the classroom. (Masking tape or clear duct tape would suffice, depending on surface) The children will make their own games out of it, they have fun stepping along the path and calling out letters, and it makes a great indoor gross motor activity.

Flashlight Letters

Submitted by: Jean

Make large letter cards or put a letter on the wall with masking tape. Turn off the lights, and let children “trace” with a flashlight. This allows large-motor practice of letter formation, and is very interesting.

Alphabet Fishing

Submitted by: Marcia Dettmann

Trace and cut 26 fish shapes from poster board (anywhere from 3″ – 12″) On one side of each fish print an alphabet letter (Aa, Bb, etc.) On the other side of each fish put a magnetic strip. Attach a piece of yarn to the end of a stick or pole. On the other end of the yarn, tie a heavy magnet (you can use the ones that have a clip so it’s easier to tie). Flip all the fish over so kids can only see the magnetic strip. When they catch a fish, they try to say what letter it is or what sound that letter makes.

Letter Scavenger

Submitted by: Hunt Margaret

To practice letter recognition, give children a paper with a bunch of letters or the whole alphabet. They can then search the classroom for those letters which can be found on books, posters, labels or anything. When they find a letter, they cross it off on their paper. Having them work in teams or with a partner might be more fun for them and will encourage cooperation. When they finish finding all the assigned letters, they get a little prize like a sticker.

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