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52 Games and Activities to Make Learning Letters and Sounds Fun
Most of these activities and games can be used with any letter or letters, and can also be adapted for numbers and number names. Play or do some of them every day!
1. Cut out a large letter shape; child decorates with stickers, stamps, markers or collage materials. These could be related to the letter sound, such as glitter for G, sequins for S, pompoms for P.
2. Write the same letter on some 2” circles or squares, and punch 2 holes in each. Child strings with yarn to make a necklace or belt.
3. Cut out some headlines from a newspaper or magazine. The child points out, circles or Xs a particular letter (or punctuation mark, or word).
4. Hide 12 to 15 letters (printed on paper) around the room (house). Have a treasure hunt.
5. Try to make a letter shape with your body, lying on the floor.
6. Tape a large written letter to the bottom of a laundry basket, and toss beanbags, balls or rolled up socks from a distance.
7. Sculpt a letter with playdoh, clay, bread dough, or sugar cookie dough. Bake and eat if appropriate.
8. Help the child form letters with thick chenilles, and hang from the ceiling.
9. Sing a well-known song, not with the usual words, but with only the sound of a particular letter. So Old MacDonald becomes: na na na na na na na, na na na na naa (remember to keep the sounds short). Have the written letter visible while singing.
10. Copy the shape of a letter using blocks on the floor.
11. Large dot-to-dot letter shape.
12. Make a 1.5’ wide strip of paper with the same letter written in a line. The children cut between the letters and say the name as they cut each one.
13. Crayon rubbing over a cardboard shape letter. Use different sizes and colors for an interesting design.
14. Teacher or child writes letters with white crayon, children wash over with watercolors and watch the letters appear.
15. Write large letters outdoors with chalk. Children hop, skip etc around them, chanting the name or the sound.
16. Play Concentration with pairs of letters.
17. Have a handful of foam or paper letters – throw them into the air! Find all the A’s…etc.
18. Draw a letter with finger in cream cheese or peanut butter on an English muffin. Line it with raisins, cereal rings, choc chips etc.
19. “Sing, sing, sing an F, sing it loud and clear! Tell the children everywhere the letter F is here!” Tune is Row Your Boat. Hold your F cards up and wave them. Use any letter.
20. Make mini puzzles with index cards. Cut them in half, mix up the pieces. Don’t use too many at once.
21. Search for foam, plastic, paper letters in sensory box (sand, cornmeal, etc).
22. Chanting and clapping words and sounds; e.g. Dog, donkey, duck! Dog, donkey, duck! De de de, Dog, donkey duck! (Clap, clap, slap knees). Adult holds up letter being chanted.
23. Salt and sand trays: have a letter printed on paper under the sand. Trace it with a finger, or a stick object.
24. Some letters can be created with craft/skill sticks. Place sticks over a large letter on paper, or make it freehand on a table or floor. It can be glued together.
25. Trace letters in finger-paint; in pudding; in shave cream.
26. Put some items that begin with a particular letter in a bag. Children feel and guess e.g. marker, mouse, mint, marble
27. Letter finger puppets: “2 little letters sitting on a (tree), 1 named A and 1 named B. Fly away A, fly away B, come back A, come back B.”
28. Sprinkle baby powder on a table, and trace letters in it. Baby theme? Letter B?
29. Stepping stone letters – tape the paper ”stones” with letters written on them to the floor, children jump from one to the next. Or be frogs jumping on lily pads.
30. Make paper airplanes with a letter written on the side. Fly them, race them
31. Cut out a group of items, perhaps relating to the current theme or holiday e.g. balloons, shamrocks, cars. Write the letter being studied on some of them, and other letters on the others. Children find the directed letter.
32. “Oh do you know the letter (B), the letter (B) the letter (B), of do you know the letter B, that’s the letter (B)!” Tune is Muffin Man. Children point to the letter being sung about.
33. Trace a written letter with a squeezable pointed glue container. Sprinkle with colored sand from paper bowls. Shake excess sand back into bowl
34. “If you see a letter (any letter), then clap your hands (clap clap)”. Tune is “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands”.
35. Make letters on a window or glass door with window markers or finger paint with liquid soap added.
36. Make a caterpillar with paper circles with a letter written on each circle. It could be the same letter, letters in the child’s name, the full alphabet (that’s a long caterpillar!)
37. Take a flashlight into a darkened room, and ”write” a letter on the wall or the ceiling with the light beam. Can you guess which letter I am writing?
38. Give children their own envelope with name written on it, containing paper, foam or magnetic letters. Empty them out, and find the directed letter, letters in name, 3-letter word etc.
39. Tape 3 or 4 learned letters to the wall. Jump to the A. Crawl to the B. Tippy toe to the C etc.
40. Gather together a set of products, packages and cans. Hold up a letter, or name one. Can you find this letter anywhere on the packages and cans?
41. Blending sounds – say the first sound of a word and then the rest of the word e.g. d-og. Children try to blend the sounds and discover the word.
42. Say the letters of the alphabet in sequence around a circle. Each child says the next letter in the sequence.
43. Go on a “letter walk” in the house/school or neighborhood. Every 10 ft. or so, put a letter on the ground. Go back the same way, looking for the letters, naming them and picking them up as you find them.
44. Eat a Cheerio (or similar). Teacher/leader holds up a letter and says its name (or sound). If the statement is true, children eat a Cheerio. If it is false, they do nothing.
45. Use a timer with a ring. Find all the as you can before the timer goes off. Use a pile of paper, foam or magnetic letters.
46. Fishing for letters – a magnet on the end of a string tied to a dowel. Letters written on paper fish with a paper clip on nose or tail.
47. Make letter puppets with craft sticks, and play games with them
48. Designate a letter doll or teddy. Tell a story about it, and give it a personality. Have the children give the named letter (or letter matching a sound) to the teddy.
49. Everyone wears a letter headband, or badge, or stamp on the back of the hand for part of the day.
50. Playdoh activities: make letters by drawing with sticks; use letter cookie cutters; press magnetic letter shapes.
51. Make a collage design with round colored stickers (from drugstore) on which teacher has written a letter.
52. Dab circles along the lines of a large printed letter with colorful paint dabbers.
Establishing the Environment for Early Literacy Development:
Reading and Writing Play Materials
My List of Excellent Children's Books
Teaching Letters to Young Children (Letter of the week, or not?)
Try these literacy-related activities:
Emergent Reading Booklets
Alphabet activity pages
Literacy Activity Packets