Learning the alphabet can be tough for our preschoolers and Kindergartners. Trying to help our kids at home after they’ve been at school all day, and we’ve worked long hours is equally frustrating. I know I’d rather scrub all the toilets in the house than throw some flash cards up at a grumpy five-year-old. Luckily, there’s a simple, cheap solution: good old-fashioned magnetic letters.
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For under ten bucks, you can order a set like this one from Amazon. If you’re not into buying any right now, you can download this digital set for free. You can print them out on thicker paper or card stock, then cut them apart. If you really want the letters to be sturdy, you can buy the self-laminating sheets like these or use clear contact paper. The fun thing about the activities listed below is that not all of them require magnetic letters. Any sort of alphabet will do. You could do one activity per night or a couple each week if you have time. Your little ones can practice the following activities while you’re working on another task nearby.
If you don’t have a Teachers Pay Teachers Account, you may download the letter file from this link: Games and Ideas for Letters
Match Upper and Lower Case Magnetic Letters
Put a bunch of magnetic letters on your fridge or spread the paper ones out on the counter. While dinner is cooking, ask your kid(s) to use their smart brains to match uppercase (big) and lowercase (little) letters. Bonus if they can identify the letters’ names and sounds, too!
Sort Vowels from Consonants
First, spread the letters out. Then have your kids separate a, e, i, o, and u from the consonants. Most preschool and early Kindergarten students only know the short vowel sounds. Once you check their sorting, ask them if they know any of the letter sounds.
Word Building with Magnetic Letters
Preschool and Kindergarten students can make their names and other small words, while older students can make their sight words or weekly spelling words. Either way, your little readers might need a bit more help from you on this one. If you’re using magnetic letters on the fridge, you could start by making the names of family members and see if your child can learn to read them.
Play Letter Sound/Letter Name War
This is a game you can play with your child. First, each player gets a “pile” of letters face down. Next, each player takes turns flipping a letter face-up and “plays” it. During each turn, the first player to say the letter’s name and sound gets to keep the letters. The player with the most letters wins. This one works a little better with card stock letters rather than magnetic letters.
Play “Go Fish” with the Letter Cards
Each player gets five to seven cards. The dealer then places the rest of the deck face down in a pile between the players. Next, each person takes turns asking for letters. If a player asks for a letter that the opponent doesn’t have, they must “go fish” or draw from the pile. The first player to play all of his or her cards is the winner. You and your child could decide to match uppercase/lowercase or the same letters.
Again, this game works best with card stock letters. Place a few letters face down. Players then take turns flipping them over until matching pairs are found.
Have a Scavenger Hunt with the Magnetic Letters
This was a favorite of my active little boy who refused to do anything that even smelled like alphabet practice. You can hide the letters around the house, and tell the child which ones to “find.” This works with either magnetic letters or card stock ones.
A word of caution, though: make sure your child finds them all. Once, I found a red “A” in a plant about five years after playing this game. I may or may not still be sweeping letters out from underneath my fridge.
Make an Alphabet Train
Have the child put the magnetic letters in alphabetical order on the fridge, thus making a letter train.
Hopefully, your little learners will enjoy a few of these ideas for using card stock and magnetic letters. Remember to make it fun, and enjoy your time playing together. Five to ten minutes of practice each day will make a difference in your child’s success in learning letters and sounds. Once kids get comfortable with letters and sounds, it’s much easier for them to break the reading code. Just remember where you hide the letters!