Top 15 Alphabet Games for Kids in Preschool and Kindergarten
May 6, 2019
Believe it or not, literacy starts before birth. Even in the womb, babies are introduced to sounds, and once born are exposed to words every day of their lives. It probably goes without saying that language development is a vitally important foundational step that gives rise to literacy and the communication skills that your children will use throughout their lives!
At or around age 2, most toddlers are ready to begin learning the alphabet. Many kids enjoy the ABC song and can follow along pointing out large colorful letters in a board book, but they do not yet understand that each letter is connected to a corresponding sound that forms words and sentences. By ages 3 to 4, many children can begin matching letters to the word sounds they hear.
While this all might sound extremely early and highly idealistic, it’s important for preschoolers to start early learning to recognize, read and write the alphabet. If you’re ready to get started or are just looking for new ideas to use with your child, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading to explore 15 easy and exciting alphabet games to use from toddlerhood through kindergarten!
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Alphabet Games for Preschoolers
In the same way that kids are exposed to words from day one, children are also constantly observing and absorbing visual information. Whether we realize it or not, even as babies, our little ones are viewing words and trying to make sense of what they see around them in the house, on TV, in stores, and while on the go. But before your child can conquer any real literacy goal, he or she must be able to recognize letters! In addition to reading daily with your early learner, try the following educational game ideas:
ABC Water Balloon Toss
With summer right around the corner, water balloons and Scrabble tiles will come in handy for awesomely interactive letter-learning fun! You’ll need a bucket or small wading pool, 26 water balloons, water, and Scrabble game pieces. To play, sort the tiles so you have one of each from A-Z. Carefully fit each game piece inside the balloon before filling with water. When finished preparing all 26 water balloons, store in the bucket or pool until your kids are ready to play!
After heading outside, instruct your child to choose a water balloon from the bucket. Take turns tossing the balloon back and forth until it pops. When it does, have your child find the Scrabble piece and call out the letter. On the pavement, patio, or a table, organize the tiles in alphabetical order, leaving space until the alphabet is completed.
Alphabet Water Balloon Fight
Make the above activity a full game by including a sibling or friend in on the fun! To play, each player tosses the balloon to each other. Each participant should be instructed ahead of time that they are gently tossing it to each other with the intent of catching the balloon. a player throws it and it pops on the opponent, that child (the thrower) gets the chance to call out the letter and claim the tile. If someone names it incorrectly, the other player has a chance to name it to claim the piece. The child with the most Scrabble pieces wins!
Road Trip Letter Hunt
Is your family heading out on the road this summer? Some of the best alphabet games for kids are those that can be played on the go and without any purchase required! Make sure to grab stickers or dot markers and a printable alphabet game board. Before leaving for your trip, find and print at least two alphabet game boards, easily found on the web, or feel free to make your own using construction paper.
If you are a passenger in the car, challenge your child to a duel! If you’re the driver, have sibling or another parent play. Once on the highway, look around to find letters in the environment around the car. These may be on other cars, trucks, license plates, buildings, billboards, and road signs. Each time you see a letter, call it out and place a sticker or a dot underneath it on the game card. The first person to find all 26 letters wins!
ABC Race Track
This is the perfect game for your little racecar enthusiasts! Race from A to Z using this exciting racing game! Be ready with a large magnetic white board, Hot Wheel cars, magnetic letters, and a stopwatch. First, set the magnetic white board on the ground and encourage your child to place the magnets on the board in a random order, leaving ample space between each. While placing the letters, instruct him or her to name the them before setting them down.
When ready to begin, your child will grab a toy car. Using a stopwatch, like the one on your smartphone, begin timing when you say, “go!”. Your child will then begin to race through the letters starting with A, driving the car to each magnet trying to get to Z. When finished, stop the watch and record the time! Have your child race against their own time or set up a duplicate board next to the first to have your child race their friends or siblings!
Spray the Bug
Alphabet games for preschoolers should be as simple as possible. This game requires minimal supplies but delivers a lot of fun! Be sure to have sidewalk chalk and a small spray bottle filled with water. Head outside and prepare the driveway by drawing bugs on the ground and filling them in with letters from A-Z. Next, call out a letter and have your child find it and use the water bottle as “bug spray”! Keep going until your child has sprayed all the bugs! For older children, expand your child’s learning by writing whole words inside the bugs to read sight words!
Learning Letter Sounds
As children approach the elementary years, they are able to connect letter with the sounds they produce. You’ll need even less supplies for the following fun alphabet games for kindergarten:
Letter Sounds Racing
Here’s a different spin on the race track game above! For this activity you’ll still need magnetic letters and a large whiteboard. This time be sure to have plenty of floor space and spread out the magnets on the floor on one end of the room. On the other end of the room place the whiteboard on the floor and position your child to stand next to it. Call out a letter sound and challenge your child to run across the room, find the correct magnet and race back to place it on the whiteboard. Keep going until all the all of them are moved. For each round, time your child to encourage him or her to beat their own time! Play with friends, classmates or siblings to make this a real race!
Letter Sounds Paddle Games
There are so many cool ways to play with letter paddles! Simply make paddles by cutting out large circles from construction paper and writing letters on the top. Then, using glue or tape, attach the circles onto jumbo craft sticks to make paddles. Play a game by calling out letter sounds, tasking players to listen carefully, and holding up the paddle as soon as they figure out the answer.
To extend learning for more advanced phonics practice, write letter blends on the circles and call out words using those blends for an extra tricky activity. Use this with your child individually, with friends or siblings, or even in the classroom!
Sound Matching Lego Game
Kids tend to recognize the first letter sound of any word before they can connect any other sound. Use Lego Duplo bricks to practice first letter recognition! Create small squares that include both upper- and lower-case letters with small clipart pictures that correspond. For example, if one square says “Aa”, the matching sound picture might be of a small alligator or apple. If you’re short on time, find a free printable online for this activity, and be sure the squares are small enough to fit along the sides of two Duplo blocks.
After preparing the blocks, mix the bricks in a tub. Have your child sort through the blocks to match letters to the pictures and attach them together, announcing the sound as they find the pairs!
Letter Sounds Toss
For this quick ball game, choose a wall in your house or classroom that is sturdy enough to take a beating! Using construction paper, cut out circles or squares and print a letter on each before taping them to the wall in a random order. When ready, call out a letter sound and watch as your child throws the ball to hit the right circle on the wall. Using a stopwatch, time each round challenging your little learner to beat their own record!
Alphabet Beanbag Game
Much like the above ideas, beanbag games can be great for naming the ABCs and calling out sounds. For this game, set up three buckets in a large room. Be sure to have on-hand commercially bought bean bags with the alphabet printed on them or make your own using a permanent marker. When ready, each student or player will take turns stepping to the front of the line, reading the letter and its sound before tossing the beanbag in one of the three buckets. Assign different point values based on correctly announcing the bag’s information, and for which bucket (closest or furthest) the bag landed in. The player with the most points wins!
Lowercase and Uppercase Letters
Important for both reading and writing, as students work through kindergarten, they will learn the difference between uppercase and lowercase letters. The following activities will give your child extra practice to make it go more smoothly:
Pasta Letter Match
All you’ll need for this game is dry, uncooked alphabet pasta and a card that contains the entire alphabet. Print out a letter card from the web or feel free to make your own! In a bowl or on a table, spread out the dry pasta. Instruct children to match the pasta to the the card. Next, offer your child a card that has only lowercase letters. Watch as kids are challenged to match upper with lowercase letters by placing the pasta on their game card!
Make this an interactive game by creating a pasta bingo match! Create game cards that only have 16 letters, with different combinations on each card. Then, call out them out while students match uppercase to lowercase while playing!
Plastic Egg Letter Hunt
During Easter or all year long, put those old plastic eggs to work by creating a literacy game! Using a permanent marker, write uppercase letters on the top shell, and lowercase on the bottom. Then separate the shells and hide around the house, classroom, or any large playable space! Let children hunt around the room to find all the egg halves to find matches. The child with the most eggs wins!
Letter Match Wheel
This easy idea can be made in a snap with just a paper plate, markers, and clothespins! Create a wheel by writing the ABCs around the plate using uppercase letters. On the clothespins, write corresponding lowercase letters. Challenge children to complete the wheel by matching the clothespin to the correct spot on the wheel and use a stopwatch to record the amount of time it takes to finish the entire plate. The child done first wins, or if playing individually, record the fastest time!
For this activity, reuse the letter magnets used in the games above. Using a whiteboard, help your child write a combination of upper and lowercase letters forming an alphabet of mixed case. Next, your little learner will sort through the magnets to quickly match the opposite case letter to the one written on the whiteboard. Work through the alphabet until all are matched, erase, and try again using different lower and uppercase combinations!
Bug Swat ABC Game
If your child loved the bug spray idea, this will take that game one step further. Using sidewalk chalk, draw bugs on the ground and fill them with a mixture of upper and lowercase letters. When ready to play, call out sentences like, “Swat the bug that has a lowercase a”. Continue until all bugs have been swatted and increase the speed for mastery!
With so many ways to play, your preschooler has ample options to review and practice early literacy skills straight from toddlerhood on up! Begin with simple letter recognition and work up to letter case using the ideas above for exciting and interactive early learning!