Teaching the alphabet is the core of what we do in kindergarten for many months! There are many moving parts in the classroom that work together to get kids to learn the alphabet.
How to Effectively Teach the Alphabet in Kindergarten
1. Just read! Seems silly to say but the best way to teach kids the alphabet is to just submerse them in it! As you are doing your normal read aloud, point out the letters and how you are using what is printed on the page to say the words. And then it’s also fun to read books about the alphabet; below are some of my favorites!
It’s also great to put these books into your writing lab to inspire writing! They are great jump starters for stories!
2. Teach the students the letters in their names. Children have seen the letters in their name more and heard the sounds in those letters their entire life, so it only makes sense to start there. Be sure to visit our Names Pinterest board for TONS of ideas on working with students’ names!
3. Add music and movement! So important for little learners and there are so many great videos on YouTube that do this! I also love to incorporate tunes the students already know into our learning and so the below video is perfect for daily practice!
And then as the school year goes on, you still want to continue to teach the alphabet but the kids get a little bored with the same old songs, so we sing it backward! (They can do it and so can you!)
4. Follow your curriculum (or create a map of how you want to teach the letters.) This is so important because you don’t want to confuse your students. If your district has a prescribed curriculum, embrace and make it work. Supplement it where you can with fun and engaging activities. If you don’t have curriculum, decide how you want to teach the alphabet. There are many theories on what works, but honestly you will find research that says a letter a day is appropriate and a letter a week is as well. In my perfect work, we would teach 2 letters a week but that’s a decision you will have to make if you are able to.
If you don’t have a curriculum, our Letter of the Week files can help. They are fully comprehensive units that have posters, printables, anchor charts, centers, and lots more! We call it Letter of the Week because it is literally a week worth of activities for each letter, but you don’t have to be a Letter of the Week teacher. You can definitely use whatever timeframe and all sorts of reading programs and approaches with these printable.
5. Put learning the alphabet into your centers! Centers are where the students really practice and get comfortable with the skills you are teaching! So it’s super important that all year you have the alphabet covered in your activities. One of my student’s favorite centers is our boring old flashcards on binder rings that I keep in a drawer in my writing center. (This is of course more of a spring sentence but at the beginning of the year students can draw other pictures and label them with the same letter they pick.)
6. Track your student’s growth. Another super important part of teaching the alphabet. I use Checklist Assessments to record what letters my kids can and cannot say the name, sound and write. This helps me to be able to pull targeted groups and really instruct on what my students are needing!
7. Include crafts and make it fun! So important to understand that our little learners need crafts and activities to create meaning! Again so many crafts and activities you can do, but I love Alphabet Hats because they go home with the students and the parents adore them! (Be sure to click over for a free hat!)
Making it fun does not have to mean arts and crafts either. Kids love doing Interactive Alphabet Notebooks where they can cut, glue, and assemble all sorts of little flip flaps. Can kinders do them? YES. Our Interactive Notebooks are make with easy cuts that repeat again and again. You will model the first couple times and then kids will get it. These are truly a great tool because it is fun and academic.
8. Practice for fluency! Once your students have a good basis of the letters, you will want to have them pick up the speed and create some automaticity in their knowledge! Letter cards or word searches are great resources to do this. Students can start by just identifying specific letters by circling the or dotting them with a bingo dotter. This will get them used to seeing the letter all mixed up and then as the year moves on they can read those letters for speed and fluency!
9. Keep your families well informed. We really need our families to help reinforce what we teach in the classroom and that is especially important when learning the alphabet. We need our parents to be on the same page with how to form the letters, teaching upper or lower case letters first, and etc. These Alphabet Brochures can help with that.
Alphabet Bracelets are also a great activity to do in class that lets parents know what letters we worked on in class.
When all of those elements fall into place, teaching and learning the alphabet is a lot more effective!
So I have teamed up with some of my friends to get you more information on teaching the alphabet!