10 Hands On Tasks To Learn The Alphabet

A solid understanding of the alphabet is needed to build strong reading skills. Here are 10 different ways to master the alphabet and generalize those skills. All of these activities are hands on and engaging to help keep your students' attention.


A solid understanding of the alphabet is needed to build solid reading skills. Here are 15 different ways to master the alphabet and generalize those skills. All of these activities are hands on and engaging to help keep your students' attention.
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Sorting By Features

This activity is great for helping students cue into and discriminate letters. You can easily make this into a multi-sensory task by using magnetic letters. Have students run their fingers over the magnetic letters as they determine if the letter has the feature(s) you are looking for. Here are some ideas of different features students can sort by:

*Straight lines vs curved lines

*Tails vs no tails

*Dots vs no dots

*Tall vs short


Alphabet Tracing Books

Research tells us that tracing the letters of the alphabet daily helps students build a strong understanding of the alphabet. We have students trace both upper and lower case letters while stating the name. We then label a picture that starts with that letter. Here is an example of our Guided Reading alphabet tracing book:



Letter Hunt

This a great way to combine movement and letter practice.  I show my students a letter and they have to run to stand next to that letter somewhere in the room. They can find a word or individual letter. Choose a couple students and have them tell you where they found the letter to add in language building opportunities... win! You can also make this activity even more fun by adding in a magnifying glass.

When possible, I find something we can use in our hunt that starts with the letter we are looking for. For example, we used binoculars made for kids to find all of the "Bb" examples in our classroom.




If you are short on space, you could also do letter hunts using newspapers, flyers and magazines.


Practice Across Fonts

Students can become very rigid in their thinking and understanding of letters if we don't teach them to generalize across fonts and handwriting. Certain letters, such as 'A', can be written in two different ways. We need to make sure students have practiced all of them.


Write The Room Alphabet

Research supports combining learning and movement... enter write the room alphabet! My kiddos LOVE this activity.





Act Out Alphabet Books

Acting out books that highlight the alphabet will help students learn letters and engage them in literacy. One of our favorite books to act out is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. 



We act it out with magnetic and felt letters. We also have this Lakeshore Activity Tree. I put this over in the classroom library so kiddos can retell and act the book out during reading centers.






Focus On Letters In Name

Starting with the letters in the student's name helps make the activities meaningful to the student. Here are 2 of the activities that we do to work on identifying and writing letters. 







Multi-Sensory Letters

Add in sensory elements by having students build letters out of popsicle sticks, playdoh, in shaving cream, sand, etc. You could also cut letters out of sandpaper. Another idea... and this is a fave in my class is to make pancake letters:




Alphabet Tasks

We also practice matching letters, matching capital and lower case letters, pictures that start with each letters, etc. Here are some of the hands on alphabet tasks we do in reading centers and task boxes:




Track The Letters

Have students point to letters in order while listening to the alphabet song. I write the alphabet on a sentence strips and have students point to each letter. This helps students learn that direction matters. We read left to write, so students need to practice reading letters in that way. If you have students with vision deficits, use colored sentence strips. The easiest on the eyes are yellow strips with black writing.



A solid understanding of the alphabet is needed to build solid reading skills. Here are 15 different ways to master the alphabet and generalize those skills. All of these activities are hands on and engaging to help keep your students' attention.




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