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  • Becky Carlisle Cothern

Alphabet Knowledge: Activities for Identifying Letters

This is the first of a three part series on developing alphabet knowledge in preschool and kindergarten. Research (Reutzel 2015) shows that students develop alphabet knowledge in three areas 1. Identifying the upper and lowercase letter 2. searching for and distinguishing the letter in text 3. producing the letter in written form. As I look at all three areas I will share with you resources and ideas I have that can benefit you and your students in the classroom.

Alphabet knowledge has long been one of the most consistent and strongest predictors of reading success (NELP 2008). Research also shows that alphabet knowledge is most effective when taught in short, repeated, explicit lessons (Jones and Reutzel 2015). These alphabet lessons need to be developmentally appropriate with high repetition and play-based learning objectives (Neuman 2006). When the right components are in place fluency of alphabet knowledge is achieved and ALL students reach a high level of success. The first component for mastering alphabet knowledge is identifying the letter. Below you will find ideas and resources to plan activities and teach lessons that promote alphabet knowledge: Identifying Letters.


Students love treasure hunts, maps, pirates, etc. Take advantage of this natural interest and go on alphabet hunt. Students use repetition to identify the letter name and sound as they find their way to the treasure box. Teachers can choose to focus on a single letter or choose a group of letters that students need help identifying. This is the perfect balance between academic and play-based learning.

Students can match uppercase-uppercase, lowercase-lowercase, or uppercase-lowercase as they identify the letters of the alphabet. The teacher can choose the letters students need practice on as well as the level of difficulty (i.e. generally students learn upper case letters first). These clip cards are a very beginning level of alphabet identification.

3. Use cards to play Alphabet Games:

One of the best ways to learn the letters of the alphabet is through repetition. But how do you get in plenty of repetitions while still allowing your students to have fun? These Alphabet Flashcard Games are the perfect solution. Students get high repetition of the letter name and sound while having fun playing a game. The alphabet cards are chosen by the teacher so students work on the specific letters they need. Differentiation and explicit instruction are easy and simple with these games. And because there are a variety of games students will never get bored.

4. Master letter sounds with these Alphabet Sound Posters:


Use alliteration, rhythm, and motions to help students identify the names and sounds of the alphabet. Each poster contains the upper and lowercase of the letter as well as a picture depicting multiple objects that begin with the letter. The alliteration helps students hear the alphabet sound and the hand motions help students build connections to improve memory. Research has shown remembering letter sounds to be the most difficult part of letter identification, these sound posters are an amazing tool to improve the retention of letter sounds for your students.

5. Increase exposure through a variety of activities:

Any teacher could tell you there is no one sure fire lesson that works for every student. Just like all people, our students are diverse and learn differently from each other. So, the more we are able to expose them to letters in a variety of fun of ways; the more students are able to deepen their understanding and mastery of the individual letters of the alphabet. These alphabet activities included in this bundle allow students with lots of different opportunities to identify the name and sound of each letter. For example students can complete a letter dot-to-dot, uppercase or lowercase letter crafts, letter coloring page, letter playdough mat, letter fluency sheet, letter poster, letter sorting sheets, and letter puzzle.

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