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How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File!

Teaching letters to kindergarten students should be organized and follow a routine so students can reach mastery of the alphabet. Here are some tips on how to introduce and teach letters in kindergarten.

Teaching letters to kindergarten students should be organized and follow a routine so students can reach mastery of the alphabet. Here are some tips on how to introduce and teach letters in kindergarten. 

As we are introducing the alphabet, we help kindergarten students learn to identify the letters of the alphabet at first by looking at the path of motion. When we designed our Engaging Readers units, we not only planned amazing reading comprehension activities, but we also planned our word study as well. We are often asked about how we teach letters to kindergarten students at the beginning of the year.

When kindergarten students come to us at the beginning of the year, they know the names of objects in their everyday life. If you show a student a picture of a car, they will know it’s a car even if you turn it sideways or flip it so it’s facing the other direction. Same with a dog, a bird, a house… they are still the same object. However, with letters that is not the case. When we look at a letter of the alphabet, the meaning of the object changes when it gets positioned differently. Think about the lowercase letters b, d, p, and q. It is important for students to know the names of the letters and recognize letters in the correct formation. This takes a little retraining for our kindergarten friends.

Experts tell us that is important to think about letter formation and to teach students explicitly as you introduce these letters. Research also tells us that students who are confident with their handwriting skills produce a higher quality of writing than those with poor handwriting. (Ruetzel, R July/August 2015 Findings Primary‐Grade Teachers Will Want to Know The Reading Teacher, Vol. 69, Issue 1)  

You can see more on handwriting and the path of motion for lowercase and uppercase letters in this blog post:

How to Teach Letters in Kindergarten: Letter Order

According to Wiley Blevins, there is no consensus on the best sequence for teaching the alphabet. Many teachers believe letters should be introduced in alphabetical order, whereas others believe that a young learner should learn meaningful letters first, such as the letters in their names. When teaching young children letter names and letter sounds, we teach letters that allow them to build words quickly. So, we begin with the letters t, a, b, and h. We then follow a set sequence throughout our curriculum for teaching letters and beyond.

Once students learn about a letter, that letter doesn’t go away. Research tells us that students need 6-8 weeks to build mastery. So, the letter t should show up in your review 6-8 weeks after the introduction. 

How to Teach Letters in Kindergarten: Routine

The best way to successfully teach letters to kindergarten students is to be organized and have a routine. When it comes to student learning, routines are critical. Now, I am all about fun and exciting activities to support learning but it’s important that students know what they are working on and what the next step is going to be. We want to teach letters the same way every single time so students can more easily store the information.

During the first 6 weeks, we introduce the entire alphabet. Each week, we introduce 4-5 letters. Many big boxed curriculums provide a letter of the week study. This is not effective.

Research by Jones and Reutzel (2012) showed that letter‐a‐day instructional pacing was significantly more effective than letter‐a‐week pacing in promoting students’ mastery of the alphabet letter names. They attributed this finding to a total of 6–7 distributed reviews of the alphabet letters in a single academic year, compared to only 1.5 distributed reviews when pacing instruction at a letter a week.

So clearly letter of the week is old and outdated. Letter of the day is a better and developmentally appropriate approach. It is also suggested that students NOT spend an hour a day on letter recognition instruction, but rather just 12 minutes a day… 12! Minutes!  The instruction should be quick and include activities like letter identification, sound identification, sorting letters, finding letters, and writing letters! 

How to Teach Letters in Kindergarten: Quick Daily Lesson

Letter Introduction

When we begin teaching letter recognition and sound, we provide students with a kinesthetic movement to accompany each specific letter. The movement is listed on the back of our sound cards.

teach letters with these alphabet sorts

Letter Sounds

We identify pictures that represent the letter sound and place the sound cards in a pocket chart.

How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File! 1

Letters in a Sentence

I read an alliteration sentence to students and we identify the word that starts with the focus letter. I also have students repeat the sentence with me a few times.

During our lesson, students are also working in their phonics journals.

How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File! 2

Teach letters and phonics with our ready-to-go lesson plans and resources. You can find our Engaging Readers phonics lessons here:

Letter Recognition Activities

After each letter is learned, I provide students with different ways to practice the letters during their literacy center time. It is important for students to have lots of opportunities to apply their learning and strengthen their neural pathways. Here are 5 alphabet recognition activities that are perfect for centers! You can also use these great ideas during small group.

Alphabet Activity #1: Letter Identification Editable Worksheets

These printable and editable worksheets are a great resource for practicing letter identification. You can simply add which letters you want your students to practice, select the themed activity pages, and print. You can easily differentiate these worksheets to meet individual needs.

How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File! 3
Letter Identification Worksheets

Alphabet Activity #2: Alphabet Games

These fun games are perfect for reviewing letter knowledge. Students pull out a card and say the letter name. There are special cards that make this game even more engaging. I love the multiple themes so this activity can be used throughout the year and not lose its excitement.

How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File! 4

Click the link below to see the bundle of alphabet games:

Alphabet Activity #3: Sequence Letter Identification

Another fun way to practice lower case letters. There are also multiple sets of this game so you can add in initial sounds, blends, digraphs, and vowels later in the year! Check out the bundle, HERE!

How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File! 5

Alphabet Activity #4: Kindergarten Literacy Centers Letters and Print Concepts

These literacy centers are non-seasonal, easy to differentiate and follow a predictable format. Perfect addition to your literacy stations!

How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File! 6

Alphabet Activity #5: Digital Letter Practice

If you have a technology center, these digital letter practice activities are great for the beginning of the school year. You can use these on Seesaw or Google!

How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File! 7

ABC Songs

Alphabet songs are also a great way for students to practice letter identification and sounds. Here are a few to check out.

ABC Books

Of course, kindergarten teachers have lots of alphabet books! I have a blog post with some of my favorite alphabet books. You can check out the list and snag some free printables here:

Free File!

These free alphabet printables are perfect for your little learners! These alphabet posters show letter-sound associations and the correct formation of letters. Plus, they align with our Engaging Readers phonics program and Science of Reading curriculum. Note: There is another set of alphabet posters that show correct letter formation. You get both sets! Just add your name and email below. 

How to Teach Letters to Kindergarten Students Plus 5 Alphabet Activities and a Free File! 8
 
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Teaching letters to kindergarten students should be organized and follow a routine so students can reach mastery of the alphabet. Here are some tips on how to introduce and teach letters in kindergarten.

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Deedee Wills

Deedee Wills

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

Hi, I'm DeedeE.

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!
 

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37 Responses

  1. Hi DeeDee,
    I have filled out the request for your freebie on this page several times and for some reason I am not getting an email back with a link. I tried it on a couple of different computers and at different times. Any ideas? My email address is [email protected]

    Thanks so much for your time.

    1. Oh gosh Michelle,

      I looked up your email and it looks like you may have accidentally marked my emails as “spam.” When this happens all of my emails and automation gets blocked from being sent. Can you email me and I can try to email it directly to you.

      [email protected]

    1. I just deleted your old subscription and tried to push it out to you. You may find an email from me in your inbox or possibly your spam/junk folder. If you add me to your email contacts, that might help.

      EDIT: Okay… well… I guess once you hit the “Complained” button, there is no way to change it. You may need to use a different email address.

      1. Oh my gosh…I don’t know how I did that!! I do apologize. I did look in my Spam folder and there is nothing there. I will try to use another address and see what happens. Thanks so much for your help.

        Michelle

  2. Do you have a link to the phonemic awareness task cards that are pictured above?

    1. YES! They are also included in the Engaging Readers set for August/September! WOOT! That unit is packed with all the goodies! LOL

  3. Hey DeeDee,
    Where can we get the introducing the alphabet file? I didn’t see it in the Curriculum Map and I already own the engaging readers set. Am I just missing it? Thanks!!

    1. Hi Hillary,

      The Curriculum Map contains the order in which we introduce the alphabet. Kindergarten starts on page 6 of that document for the first 6 weeks of school.

      1. Hi! I love this post. My school uses the Wonders program and with their pacing guide they are still learning letter sounds in January!!! It is so slow… Is there a way to buy just your Alphabet activities rather than the whole Engaging Readers set? Or, is the alphabet study materials all in August and September and I can just buy that set? I would LOVE to buy the whole thing but don’t have that in my budget right now!

        1. Hi there!

          I’m sorry, we are not currently planning on selling the phonics independent of the reading units.

  4. HI Dee Dee, I am a huge fan!!! So I’m and moving from kinder to TK next year and I want to clarify where I can purchase you introducing the alphabet unit. Am I correct it is not in the engaging readers? Also, what do you suggest I use if our kinder is using the engaging readers?
    Warmly,
    MIchelle Mangan
    Can you please email the response to me

    1. Hi there! I’m sorry, your email bounced back to me. 🙁

      However! Great news! We have two editions of Engaging Readers so multiple grade levels can use them. The alphabet activities/phonics are in the Engaging Readers units.

  5. Hi Deedee,
    I did not receive the file. Checked my email and I have nothing blocked. Please resend. Thanks so much!
    Julie

  6. Hi! I love being able to earn my PD points with topics that benefit me and my students! Thank you!
    I was wondering if the alphabet cards shown at the top of this post are part of a bundle or can they be bought individually?
    Thank you for sharing your gift for teaching with others!
    Randa Smith

  7. I love your products and organization! I’m looking for the Math Workshop Bundles, “Guiding Kinders Units 1-10” , that I see in your Curriculum Guide. Please help me find these resources. Thank you!

  8. I love this post! I have read it several times and I am wanting to use this knowledge for my Kinders next year. Do you offer the abc worksheets shown in the pictures? I have clicked everything and can’t seem to find anything. I have also purchased the engaged readers but they are not included in that. Am I missing something??
    Please help!
    Britta

  9. Sorry….summer brain! So, If I already receive the emails, the Curriculum guide download is in the email??

  10. I just finished watching your workshop about centers. I loved it. I went to your site and saw a freebie, Introducing the Alphabet. I tried to click on it, but it didn’t work. I would love to have it for this 2018 year. When I get my school money, I will be purchasing some of your teaching bundles. Thanks so much for making these workshops.
    Sincerely,
    Jennifer

    1. Hi Jennifer,

      The free file in this post is the curriculum guide at the end of the blog post. If you did not get it, can you email me and I will troubleshoot it for you. (check your spam folder, too).

      [email protected]

  11. Hello Deedee!
    I am prepping for next year and was wondering whenever you introduce the letters/sounds do you also introduce the path of motion from your handwriting unit and have the students complete the worksheet or do you wait on this part or do it at another part of the day?
    Thank you for any feedback!
    Chelsea

    1. Hi there!

      Yes, I you the path of motion forms in the “Make It Neat” unit. I don’t expect perfection, but they do pretty good. Then we can practice more in the weeks and weeks to come with other activities. I don’t start the Minute to Win It until the 2nd semester.

      I hope that helps.

  12. I have been trying to access the research articles that you have cited. I am a member of ILA, but I must be doing something wrong. How can I access the research?

    Thank you!

    1. You have to have the full membership I think. You may want to contact their help desk to see why you are not able to access the articles. I was only able to “check them out” for a limited time.

  13. Hi, thank you so much for all your resources. I find them very helpful. I watched your guided reading webinar. I saw this resource and wondered if there is any way to get it still. I couldn’t find it in your store. I as well wondered if there was a way of watching a webinar that is older. I signed up for “Interactive Read Aloud” webinar but then things came up I and couldn’t watch it. Is there any way of seeing it now? Thank you again

    1. Yes, If you look at my sidebar on the blog, you will see a button so you can watch webinars. There is a link there for you! 🙂

  14. Hi Deedee,
    I wondering if there if you have a video of the letter sound movements? I bought the Engaging Readers set and I’m just a little unclear on how to do the movements based on some of the descriptions. Kinda silly but I just want to do it correctly 🙂

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