When little Emma first showed interest in the alphabet, her parents saw a spark of curiosity they wanted to run with. But as a child with unique learning needs, traditional methods of teaching sounds and letters seemed to overwhelm her rather than excite her.
Her parents were able to find alphabet activities that would captivate Emma’s attention and cater to her special needs. Not only did Emma begin to recognize and recite the alphabet with confidence, but she also loved learning time.
Here are 52 fun alphabet activities for kids and how you can adapt them to your child’s learning differences.
#1 Sensory Bin With Letters
Sensory bins are an excellent tool for learning letters. Fill a container with materials and then mix in some letters. These could be magnetic or plastic letters.
Or let them create the letters out of cardboard, glitter, or sandpaper so they have a touching aspect.
They find and pull out different letters as they search through the bin with their hands. This helps with recognizing and remembering each letter by its shape.
Materials you can use to fill the bin:
- Dry rice or pasta
- Colorful beans for a visual pop.
- Sand, which is fun to sift through.
- Water beads which are squishy and interesting to the touch.
- Shredded paper for an easy and cheap filler.
The key is for your child to use their sense of touch to explore and find the letters and match them to their shapes and sounds. This way, learning the alphabet becomes an interactive experience.
Interactive Alphabet Games for Kids
Playing games is one of the best ways to learn. Regarding the alphabet, interactive games can be beneficial, especially if you learn differently from other kids.
Alphabet Games to Try:
- #2 Alphabet Bingo: Just like regular bingo, but you can use pictures or sounds to match the letters. Or have them match the lowercase to uppercase letters.
- #3 Sound Matching Memory Game: Turn over cards to find pairs that match a letter with a picture that starts with that letter’s sound.
- #4 Go Fishing for Letters: Make a fishing rod with a magnet on the end. Then, create fish with paper clips and letters on them. See what you catch and say the letter out loud.
- #5 Alphabet Train: Create a train with cars with different letters and arrange them in order.
- #6 Alphabet Line-Up: Use letter cards or magnets and have kids put them in order from A to Z as fast as possible.
How to Make These Games Work for Your Child:
- If it’s hard to hold things, make the pieces bigger or let your child use tools to help pick them up.
- If your child needs more time, that’s okay! Don’t rush. Let them go at their own speed.
- Add sounds, music, or bright colors when needed.
Remember, games are supposed to be fun, so change the rules if necessary. Most importantly, they’re learning and having a good time.
Alphabet Arts and Crafts
Crafts are a fantastic way to make letter learning fun. They are also working on their fine motor skills, which are essential for doing things like writing and buttoning your shirt.
- #7 Letter Collages: Cut out letter shapes from cardboard. Then, stick things like pasta, rice, torn paper, or beans on them. Each letter will have a different texture.
- #8 Alphabet Painting: Paint letters on paper. You can use finger paints or brushes. Try making each letter in a different color.
- #9 Clay Letters: Roll out clay or playdough and shape it into letters. This is like a workout for your fingers!
- #10 Alphabet Art: Draw or paint outside with sidewalk chalk or water on a fence, focusing on different letters.
Accommodations for Arts and Crafts:
Making accommodations based on your child’s needs is important. Try some of these accommodations:
- If holding small objects is hard, use bigger materials like large foam letters or big beads.
- If using scissors is tough, try tearable paper or stickers instead.
- For kids who need more visual help, use bright, contrasting colors.
- Some kids like it quiet while crafting, but others might enjoy background music.
Consider what makes your child most comfortable and change the activity to match. This way, crafts are fun and just right for their learning.
#11 Use Technology Aids to Learn the Alphabet
Using technology can make learning the alphabet fun. Some apps and websites with games and videos can help you learn letters and sounds.
They’re like playing a video game, but you’re learning, too! Here are some you might like:
Tips for Using Technology:
Technology can be a big help, but it’s best to use it along with other ways of learning, like crafts or sensory bins. This way, they learn with their eyes, ears, and hands — a full combo!
- Make sure to balance screen time. A good rule is to use these apps or websites briefly each day.
- When you’re on a screen, try to make it active. Repeat the letters out loud or trace them with your finger.
- After screen time, do something active like running or playing outside.
ABC Musical Activities:
Music can turn alphabet learning into a fun time. When you sing along to alphabet songs, the melodies help you remember each letter and the sounds they make.
- #12 Alphabet Song Remix: Create new verses to the classic “ABC” song, focusing on different words that start with each letter.
- #13 Musical Alphabet Chairs: Play like musical chairs but with alphabet mats. When the music stops, kids must find the mat with the correct letter.
- #14 Alphabet Instrument Play: Assign a different sound or instrument to a set of letters and play the corresponding sound when each letter is shown.
- #15 Letter Sound Match-Up: Play a game where kids hear a letter sound and find the letter that matches the sound.
- #16 Alphabet Parade March: Have children march to Barney’s letter parade video while holding signs with different letters in alphabetical order.
- #17 Letter Echo: The leader sings a letter sound, and the kids echo it back with the corresponding letter name.
- #18 Sound Pattern Songs: Create simple songs that repeat sound patterns with different letters, helping children recognize phonetic patterns.
- #19 Alphabet Rap Battle: Make a fun rap verse for each letter, focusing on the sound it makes, and have kids take turns performing.
- #20 Letter Sound Jingles: Create short, catchy jingles for different letters or groups of letters that share similar sounds.
Incorporating these musical elements can make learning the alphabet a rhythmic and fun experience, enhancing memory retention.
How to Make Accommodations for Musical Activities
For children with special needs, accommodations in music activities can help them participate fully and enjoy the learning process. Here’s what you might consider:
- Volume Control: Some children may be sensitive to loud noises, so keep the volume comfortable or use headphones that limit volume.
- Visual Aids: Use visual representations of the music, such as showing the letters on a screen or with flashcards as the song plays.
- Instrument Adaptations: Choose instruments that are easy to hold and play or modify existing instruments to fit the child’s needs better.
- Pace Adjustment: Slow down songs to make it easier for children to follow along, or break the song into smaller parts.
- Simplified Rhythms: Use simple clapping or tapping rhythms focusing on one letter at a time to avoid overwhelming the child.
- Quiet Space: Provide a quiet, distraction-free space for children who may get overstimulated easily.
- Repetition and Consistency: Repeat songs and maintain a consistent routine, which can be comforting and aid learning.
- Choice and Control: Let the child control the activity, like choosing the song or the instrument, to give them a sense of autonomy.
- Physical Accommodations: For children with physical disabilities, ensure that the space is accessible and that they can reach all the instruments or materials needed.
By making these adjustments, you can create a musical learning environment that caters to your child’s needs, ensuring a positive and enriching experience with alphabet music activities.
Alphabet Movement Activities:
Now, let’s put the tablets and songs aside and get moving. Moving your body is not just good exercise — it helps your brain remember things, like letters.
- #21 Alphabet Freeze Dance: Dance around to music until it stops, then freeze in the shape of a letter.
- #22 Letter Yoga: Try to bend your body into the shape of different letters.
- #23 Alphabet Jumping Jacks: Do a jumping jack and shout a letter each time your hands clap above your head.
- #24 ABC Hopscotch: Draw a hopscotch grid with letters instead of numbers. Hop and say the letters as you go.
- #25 Letter March: March around the room holding a sign with a letter on it. March to the beat of a drum or clapping hands.
- #26 Alphabet Relay: Set up a relay race where each participant has to tag the next person and say the following letter in the alphabet.
- #27 Letter Limbo: Play limbo using a stick, and each child shouts out the following letter in the alphabet when you go under.
- #28 Alphabet Tag: Play tag where you have to say a letter that hasn’t been said yet before you can be ‘safe’ from being tagged.
- #29 Letter Treasure Hunt: Hide letter cards around the play area. Kids have to find them and do a fun action like a spin or a jump with each letter they find.
- #30 Letter Balloon Bop: Keep a balloon in the air by hitting it with your hand, but you can only hit it if you say the next letter in alphabetical order.
- #31 Spell-Your-Name Challenge: Move your body to spell out each letter of your name. For example, for ‘L,’ they could shake their leg, and for “H,” wave their hand.
- #32 Letter Sound Charades: Act out an action that starts with a particular sound and have others guess the letter.
- #33 Alphabetical Order Relay: Set up a relay where kids must find a letter and place it in the correct sequence on a board.
How to Make Accommodations for Movement Activities
When planning movement activities for a child with special needs, parents might need to make the following accommodations to ensure the activities are accessible and enjoyable:
- Space Modifications: Ensure the play area is safe, open, and free from obstacles, especially for children with mobility challenges.
- Movement Simplification: Break down movements into smaller, more manageable steps for children who may struggle with complex motor tasks.
- Supportive Equipment: Use stability balls, low balance beams with supports, or adapted chairs to help children with balance or coordination difficulties.
- Visual Cues: Provide visible markers or cues for children who need help understanding spatial awareness or the sequence of movements.
- Pacing Adjustments: Slow down the pace of the activity for children who need extra time to process instructions or move from one position to another.
- Clear Instructions: Use clear, concise instructions and visual aids or demonstrations for children with difficulty processing verbal information.
- Sensory Considerations: For children who are overstimulated by touch or movement, choose activities that limit direct contact or intense sensory input.
- Sign Language or Communication Devices: Incorporate sign language or augmentative communication devices for children with speech or hearing challenges.
- Rest Periods: Schedule regular breaks for children who may tire quickly or become overstimulated by continuous activity. Try one of these calming activities.
By making these accommodations, you can ensure that movement activities are not only accessible but also a source of success and joy for your child with special needs.
ABC Activities With Flashcards and Visuals:
Flashcards are a super tool for learning the alphabet. They have pictures and letters on them, and you can use them to play games and test your memory.
Here’s how to use flashcards well:
- #34 Look and Say: Show a card and say the letter. Flip it over to see if you’re right.
- #35 Mix and Match: Spread the cards and find pairs matching a picture with its starting letter.
- #36 Flashcard Challenge: Have someone show you a card briefly. Can you remember the letter?
How to Make Flashcards and Visuals More Accessible
You may need to make specific accommodations when using flashcards and visuals for alphabet learning with a child with special needs. Here are some ideas:
- Large Print and Images: Use flashcards with large, clear letters and images, especially for children with visual impairments.
- Tactile Cards: For children with visual impairments or those who benefit from sensory feedback, use flashcards with raised letters or textures they can feel.
- Contrasting Colors: Utilize flashcards with high contrast between the letter and the background to aid children with visual processing difficulties.
- Simple Layout: Avoid cluttered or overly detailed flashcards, which can be distracting. Keep the design simple and focused.
- Audio Support: Accompany flashcards with audio cues or have an electronic reader that pronounces the letters and words to help children with reading difficulties.
- Custom Content: Tailor the visuals on the flashcards to include familiar items or interests of the child for clarity.
- Interactive Features: Use flashcards with interactive elements like flaps to lift or textures to touch for children who learn best through hands-on activities.
- Flexible Use: Depending on their attention span and sensory needs, some children may need to use flashcards in shorter sessions or with frequent breaks. You might want to try one of these brain break activities.
- Support Stands: For children who need assistance with holding items, use card holders or stands so they can see the flashcards without holding them.
By adapting the flashcard activities to their child’s needs, parents can ensure they are engaged, comfortable, and better positioned to learn effectively.
#37 Storytelling and Books:
Books are magic doors to the world of letters. When you pick up a book with alphabet stories, each page turn helps you learn a new letter.
Choosing the Right Books:
- Pick books with big, bright letters and fun pictures.
- Look for stories where each page is about a different letter.
- Some books might even have rhymes or riddles to make learning letters fun.
- When you read, point to each letter and say it’s sound aloud.
- Make up a story about a letter, like an adventure of ‘A’ climbing a mountain.
- Use your voice to make the letter sounds stand out -say them loud or in a funny way.
By reading and telling stories, you’re not just seeing the letters but hearing and speaking them, too. This will help your child remember each letter’s shape and sound better.
So grab a book, find a cozy spot, and start their alphabet adventure!
Incorporating Everyday Moments:
You can learn the alphabet all day, not just during school time. Use everyday moments to practice your letters.
Here are ways to make learning the alphabet part of your child’s day:
- #38 Mealtime: Talk about foods that start with different letters. Like “B” for banana or “C” for carrot.
- #39 Drive Time: Spot letters on signs while you’re in the car. Can you find all the letters from A to Z on your trip?
- #40 Shopping: Help make the grocery list and find items that start with each alphabet letter.
- #41 Chores: As your child cleans up, have him name things around the house and the letter they start with.
- #42 Getting Dressed: As you choose their clothes, pick items that start with a particular letter of the day, like ‘S’ for socks or ‘H’ for a hat.
- #43 Bath Time Letters: Use foam letters in the bath and stick them to the wall. Spell out simple words together.
- #44 Cooking Together: Use recipes that start with different letters and read them out loud together.
- #45 Nature Alphabet Walk: Go for a walk and find objects that start with each letter, like ‘A’ for acorn or ‘B’ for bird.
- #46 Alphabet Garden: Plant an alphabet garden with seeds that start with each letter of the alphabet.
- #47 Letter Day: Choose a letter for the day and spot as many things as possible that start with that letter.
- #48 Storytelling Night: Tell stories at bedtime, each night focusing on a different letter to start the story.
- #49 Letter Sorting Laundry: Sort laundry into piles by the first letter of the item’s name, like ‘T’ for T-shirts.
- #50 Library Hunt: Visit the library and hunt for book titles that start with each letter of the alphabet.
- #51 Grocery List Sort: Sort the items alphabetically when writing a grocery list.
- #52 Bookshelf Organizer: Organize books on a shelf by the first letter of the title.
Every moment is a chance to learn. So next time you eat, play, or even when you are on a shopping trip, look around and find the alphabet in everything you do.
It’s like a game you can play anytime!
You’ve got a bunch of fun activities to learn the abc’s now, so go ahead and try them out. Every kid is different, so see which ones your child likes best.
He may love singing the most, or making crafts with his hands is his thing. It’s okay to have favorites.
Don’t worry if some letters are tricky. Keep practicing, and she will get there. And when you find a game or a craft that really helps her learn, stick with it!
We’re all in this together, so share your stories in the comments. What worked for you? Did you invent a new game? Did you make a super cool letter craft? Tell us about it. Your ideas might help someone else learn their letters, too.
Additional Language Resources
- The Surprising Benefits of Reading 20 Minutes a Day
- Assistive Reading Tools
- 2 Quick and Easy Ways to Help Kids Learn their Name
- Download this FREE creative writing activity for kids