Helping Kids Identify Letters in the Alphabet

By Carly Seifert
Pointing out letters as you read to your child creates print awareness.
Pointing out letters as you read to your child creates print awareness.

According to, by the end of the fourth year, 40 percent of children can name five to 10 letters, 30 percent know more than half of the uppercase letters, and 20 percent can name virtually all uppercase letters. Promote your child's awareness and understanding of letters by reading often and engaging him in activities that promote print awareness and letter recognition.

Noticing Print

According to, when you read to your little one, you are increasing his print awareness -- building his prereading skills as he begins to notice the left to right flow of text and understand that letters make up words. Read alphabet books to him often, naming and pointing to the letters. As you drive in the car, point out letters on billboards and stores, or letters on the cereal box as you eat breakfast together.

Important Letters First

You don't necessarily need to introduce the letters of the alphabet to your child in order. According to, your child might be most interested in the letters that are most important to him. Spell his name -- and don't just limit yourself to writing it on paper. Use play dough to form the letters of his name or spell his name out with wooden alphabet blocks to reinforce the letters. Your child might also be interested in the letters that make up the names of loved ones -- mom, dad, a close friend or a favorite stuffed animal.

Alphabet Toys

Provide your child with plenty of toys that depict letters from the alphabet to encourage his learning and awareness. Allow him to play with letter magnets on the fridge while you prepare dinner, build a castle together with alphabet building blocks, color or paint pictures in an alphabet-themed coloring book and put together an alphabet puzzle. As your child handles these toys, name and point to the letters for him.

Get Creative

You can use foods found in your own kitchen to help teach your little one his letters. Bake cookies in the shapes of letters or use alphabet cereal or icing to decorate desserts by spelling out names. Prepare a bowl of alphabet soup and ask your child to find the letters of his name in the soup. Use chocolate pudding as finger paint, and have your little one "write" letters with his fingers. Create letters using raw carrot and celery sticks.

About the Author

Carly Seifert has been a piano instructor since 2001. She has also covered adoption and introducing children to the arts for "Montana Parent Magazine." Seifert graduated from University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in drama.