Children must learn the names of the letters of the alphabet and the sounds of the letters. When they understand the connection between letters and their sounds, they will begin to understand that letters put together form words. This is the very foundation of reading.
For example, if we can say the sound of each of these letters: t + a + p, then we can blend them together to say “tap”.
Recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet and know the sounds of each letter. For example, the letter M says the sound “mmmmmm”.
If your child is still mastering their letter sounds, find moments throughout the day to check in and ask them about the sound a word starts with. If you’re at the park, ask “What sound do you hear in the beginning of “slide”? Ssss, you’re right! How about “park”? P, p, p!” These low-stress check ins help keep you informed about the letters that need more practice.
Pick a random letter in the alphabet. Find a food word that starts with this letter, like “t” while shopping at the grocery store. Take turns picking the letter.
Use sidewalk chalk to write an uppercase letter and have your child write the lowercase matching letter and tell you the sound it makes. If they struggle to write the right letter, show them how you write it and tell them it’s ok. Keep these games light and fun for your child; don’t show frustration or worry if they’re struggling. They’ll catch on as long as you keep practicing.
Pour rice or cornmeal in a plate or small, rimmed baking pan. Have kids trace a letter with their finger and say its name and sound. Gently shake the rice on the plate to “erase”. Make sure to show them the letter first so they can copy the shape.
Have your child trace an easy three letter CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant) word like dot, tap, or cup in shaving cream. Spray shaving cream in the bathtub and have them write in the foam using their finger. Have them sound out the first letter sound.