The best predictor of early reading achievement is accurate, rapid identification of letters of the alphabet (Adams, 1990; Byrne & Fielding-Barnsley, 1989; Stevenson & Newman, 1986). This includes upper and lower-case letter identification, as well as knowledge of letter-sound correspondence.
When alphabet knowledge is added to everyday learning, children are able to name and write alphabet letters, recognize letter symbols in print, and know that letters have sounds. Laying this foundation will help children have the necessary literacy skills to build upon for future reading success.
Below are some suggestions for activities you can do with your child to support their alphabet knowledge:
On a car or bus ride, look for each letter of the alphabet using signs, license plates, billboards, etc.
Fill Your Home with Letters
To help young children become comfortable with letters, keep a few alphabet sets around the house that your child can touch and manipulate, such as alphabet blocks, foam letters for the bathtub, ABC puzzles, magnetic refrigerator letters, alphabet board books, or letter stamps.
Play “What Else?” and “What If?"
Before children recognize letters, they can recognize sounds. Help them connect sounds to letters. This can be as simple as saying, "I like ba-ba-ba-bananas and ba-ba-ba-baseball. What do you like that begins with the letter B?" You can also practice manipulating word sounds by replacing the opening sound of a word with a new sound. For example, you might say, "What if every name in our family began with the /w/ sound? Mommy would be called…Wommy! And Grandma would be Wandma!" Or "What if all the food at the table started with the /t/ sound? This pickle would be a…tickle!"
Have your child help you cut out coupons before going to the grocery store. When you get to the store, have your child help you find and match the coupon item. Talk about the letters they see and compare the item to the coupon. What is the same? What is different?
Play “I Spy”
For more alphabet fun, play “I Spy” while shopping. For example, “I spy a food that starts with the letter 'B' and is green."
Eating the Alphabet
When you are eating lunch or dinner, ask your child, “What letters are you eating today?” and see if they can name the letter each food starts with. You could also ask, “How many sounds is your plate making?"
Additional activities from the Oklahoma State Department of Education include:
- Pick a sound of the day and ask your child to find words that have that sound. For example, "What words start with the sound made by the letter 'T'?"
- Write letters on cards and place them in alphabetical order