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Six Easy Letter Recognition Games for Toddlers and Preschoolers

Fun ideas on how to get your kids to learn their ABCs

By Alicia Marshall, publisher of Macaroni Kid Scranton, Pa. February 17, 2021

Looking for ways to help your kids learn their letters?  

Most kids learn letters between the ages of 3 and 5, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Here are six fun — and very easy! — games and activities to help you teach your preschooler the ABCs. 

The best part? These letter recognition games only require supplies you probably already have at home.

1. Letter hunt 

Write upper and lower case letters on Post-It notes, index cards or construction paper. Hide the cards (remember to stay at or below preschool height!) throughout your house. Depending on the child's ability level they can bring them to you in order, or you can help them put them in order after they've retrieved them all.

2. Freeze dance

Play a family favorite song and get everyone dancing! When the music stops everyone must freeze and shout a word that starts with A. The next time you stop, freeze and shout out words that start with B, and so on. If shouting out is too overwhelming, let kids go around the group and yell a word one at a time.

3. Neighborhood letter hunt 

Talk a walk around the block (or your yard) with index cards marked with each letter of the alphabet. Let your child choose a card at random and then look to find three items (or however many work for you!) that begin with that letter. For example, if the “S” card is pulled, you could name things like a squirrel, the sidewalk, or the sun. 

4. Letter book

Make a 26-page blank book out of plain paper. Your child (or you!) can write a letter on each page. You can either let your kids find pictures in magazines that start with that letter and cut them out to paste in the book, draw pictures or both! This is a fun ongoing project to create with your kids.

5. Mystery letter bag

Add magnetic letters or letter flash cards to a paper bag, along with small items like cotton balls, rice, or beads. Kids, eyes closed, choose an item from the bag. When they choose a letter, they name it. When they choose an object they can name a few other words that start with the same letter. Want to make it more challenging for older learners? Have them write a sentence using two words that start with the letter they chose or that incorporate the object they pulled from the bag. I love this activity because you can combine sensory time with letters.

6. Letter basketball

This is a great outdoor game with two or more letter learners. All you need is a ball and a basketball hoop. Don't have access to those? You can use a crumpled up piece of paper and a bowl or trashcan instead! You'll hold up a card with a letter on it and if the child gets it right they get to take a shot. Kids earn one point for getting the letter right and one point for making the shot. Count up the points and the child with the most points at the end wins the game. 

Alicia Marshall is the publisher of Macaroni Kid Scranton, Pa.