30 Tips for Teaching Letters and Numbers
Are you teaching letters and numbers to young children? As a former kindergarten teacher, and early childhood educator, I am sharing the first steps and great ideas to help you be successful teaching young kids.
Based on my experience with early childhood development, there isn’t “one best way” when teaching letters and numbers. Instead, you will find practice sessions are most effective when you combine hands-on activities with pencil and paper activities.
Here, you will find different ways to teach alphabet letters and number skills in a fun way!
The first half of the post is dedicated to alphabet activities, and the bottom half is all about number recognition. Last, you will find a printable resource to practice both letters and numbers everyday!
Teaching Letters of the Alphabet
Believe it or not, teaching letter recognition and sounds is not as easy as one may think. However, with that said, most younger children and English Language Learners enjoy the learning process and fun activities.
When do kids begin learning letters?
Letter recognition skills can begin at a very young age. In fact, you will find most children begin to display letter knowledge as early as 3 years old. By “letter knowledge”, I am referring to the basic concepts of print, such as distinguishing text from pictures and knowing letters represent words and thoughts. Typically, preschool and kindergarten students focus heavily on letter identification and letter-sound correspondence.
Let’s take a look at some tips to help you implement into your child’s daily routines when teaching letters and sounds.
15 Tips for Teaching Alphabet Letters
- Create a print rich environment. (i.e. hang alphabet posters, have letter cards and student books, labels, etc)
- Repetition is key!
- Start with teaching name recognition and identifying the letters in the child’s name.
- Implement educational videos – many kids are visual learners.
- Sing a variety of alphabet songs while pointing to the letters (on a piece of paper, magnetic letters, or alphabet posters are great visuals)
- Let the older children be a peer model. Your young learner will love doing letter recognition activities with the cool older kids.
- Incorporate sensory play and learning. (i.e. sensory bins, playdoh mats, touch dot letters, sandpaper letters,
- Focus more on the letter sounds than the letter name – this will help them have a strong foundation with phonological awareness.
- Build fine motor skills to help with letter formation.
- Encourage the use of art and creativity when learning a new letter of the alphabet.
- Keep it novel! Try something new, such as pulling letter popsicle sticks out of a brown paper bag, or using dot markers to make the shape of letters.
- Have visual references (Alphabet posters) at eye level.
- Practice putting magnetic letters, or alphabet cards, in alphabetical order using a visual reference.
- Incorporate alphabet games, alphabet toys, favorite alphabet books, along with purposeful printable resources.(see below)
- Use a highlighter and printable nursery rhymes to do alphabet hunts – highlighting the specific letter you’re working on.
Printable Alphabet Resources
Are you in a hurry and need printable resources for capital and lowercase letters? Grab these printable alphabet resources inside the Little Learning Corner store.
Your kids will be Alphabet Superstars after practicing their capital and lowercase letters 5 different ways!
Simply print off the alphabet worksheet you’re working on. The kids will practice the letter in the following 5 ways:
⭐ Find and color (or use a bingo dotter)
⭐ tap and say the sound
⭐ Sort uppercase and lowercase (visual discrimination)
⭐ Color the picture and say the beginning sound
Alphabet Make and Trace
Incorporate sensory based learning, and build fine motor skills, using playdoh to form the uppercase and lowercase letters.
Alphabet Letter Search
These letter search worksheets make learning letters fun!
Each line has a different font of letters. This helps the kids recognize letters that may be formed slightly different than the standard formation.
- Identify the focus letter in the top right.
- Circle the capital and lowercase letters found in the letter hunt.
- Identify the picture for the beginning sound in the bottom left.
- Practice tracing letters and letter writing formation on the bottom line.
Letter Matching Clip Cards
These Humpty Dumpty theme Alphabet Clip Cards are perfect for your nursery rhyme lesson plans.
Kids will use a clothespin to clip the matching lowercase letter to the capital letter on each card. Occupational therapists will confirm that using their little hands to clip the cards improves hand-eye coordination and builds fine motor skills.
Beginning Sounds Worksheets
Practice beginning sounds for all letters of the alphabet. Including long vowels and short vowels.
- Identify the focus letter in the center of the page.
- Review and say the name of all pictures on the page.
- Color only the pictures that start with the beginning sound of the focus letter.
- To challenge, or differentiate, have the kids try to write the words of the pictures they colored on the back of the worksheet.
Beginning Sounds Picture Sorts
This activity requires the kids to distinguish two sets of beginning sounds.
- Identify the focus letter at the top of the page.
- Review and say the name of all pictures on the page.
- Color (this is optional)
- Cut and paste the pictures under the column where they belong. Pictures that start with the focus letter sound and pictures that don’t start with it.
Beginning Sounds Write the Room
These Beginning Sounds Write the Room printables go beyond the standard worksheet practice. Instead, this promotes the kids to be up and moving around the room to activate their fullest learning potential. Consider it a hands-on learning activity for early learners to practice beginning sounds.
In early education, regardless of grade level, you will find a heavy focus on teaching letters and numbers. Now that we’ve already covered tips and resources for your early reader, let’s do the same for teaching numbers.
When teaching numbers to kids of an early age, there is much more involved than simply teaching number recognition. For example, number activities include number recognition, number formation, counting sets of objects, rote counting, understanding more and less, recalling how many in a set, etc.
However, since you are looking how to teach numbers, I’m going to share tips for teaching basic math skills often taught in preschool and kindergarten.
Tips for Teaching Numbers
- Create a math rich environment. (Display number charts, number lines, number posters, number books, etc)
- Practice rote counting every day. – start with small goals, such as counting to 10, 25, 50, 75, then 100.
- Implement daily math talks. They are a powerful tool that only takes 5-10 minutes a day.
- Count things in nature and around the house. (i.e. How many doors, lights, trees in the yard, etc)
- After counting sets of objects, ask the kids “how many did we find”. This is an important skill known as cardinality.
- Let the kids match number cards to their sets of objects.
- Implement math puzzles, math games, number books, printable math resources
- Integrate sensory based learning. (i.e. math mats, sensory bins, number playdoh mats, etc)
- Make an estimating jar, and have the kids guess how many items. After guessing, count together then find that number on a number line.
- Sing math songs.
- Incorporate math videos.
- Use magnetic numbers to put numbers in order.
- Use dot cards to build subitizing.
- Do a lot of comparing sets – which has more/less.
- Use tens-frames to build understanding of base 10 – composing and decomposing numbers.
Printable Numbers to 10 Resources
Are you in a hurry and need printable resources for teaching numbers? Grab these printable math resources inside the Little Learning Corner store.
Daily Math Talks
The Math Talks are the most popular, and powerful, math resources inside the Little Learning Corner store!
Build mental math, computation, and student discourse by presenting these tasks, problems, and questions during your daily routine.
Choose from preschool, kindergarten, first grade, and second grade math talks.
Decomposing Numbers to 10 Dot Cards
A staple for understanding numbers, Decomposing Numbers to 10 with tens frames, should be a part of every kids math routine. Build student discourse and improve number talks.
Math Mats are an interactive, hands-on, math activity to build number sense and engage your active learners in counting and writing numbers 1-10.
Preschool, PreK, and kindergarten kids will count, build, trace, write, and find the number on a number line.
- Build and Count
- Trace the number
- Write the number
- Circle the number on the number line
Numbers to 10 Write the Room is an interactive math center to build number sense and engage your active learners in writing numbers 1-10.
There is a number line on the recording sheet to offer support with number recognition and writing/formation.
Post the picture cards around the room, and watch as the students become eager to write numbers 1-10 on their record sheet. Great for visual and kinesthetic learners.
Numbers to 10 Clip Cards
Students count the objects on the card, then clip their answer using a clothespin. No more worksheets…the kids will love this hands-on math activity.
Numbers to 10 Monthly Worksheets
These seasonal themed worksheets have three different ways to practice numbers to ten, including writing numbers, tens frame, and counting and identifying the correct numeral.
Counting to 100 Number Charts
Counting to 100 printable worksheets will increase number awareness – meeting the Counting and Cardinality Common Core Standards for Kindergarten and 1st Grade.
Alphabet and Number Daily Review
Last, but not least, if you are looking for a way to review these skills everyday, check out these Alphabet and Numbers Daily Review worksheets. Simply print and go!
Before you go, here are more posts you’ll enjoy:
15 Amazing Math Talks for Kids
25 Popular Nursery Rhymes Songs for Kids
20 Tips for Teaching Concepts of Print
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