Early Literacy Activities for Learning Letters

Learning letters can be dull for a child. Bring some fun back into it by playing these games.



Here you will find some of my favorite ideas for games and activities which you can do with your child. On this page I focus on early literacy activities associated with letter recognition. You will find many entertaining ways here to help your child learn their letters.

For each of the following games you can decide whether you want your child to tell you:

  • the letter names, eg ‘em’ in the case of the letter “m”.
  • the sound that the letter makes, eg /m/ as in ‘man’.
  • words that start with the letter (for more advanced children).
Phonics teaching recommends using sounds first rather than letter names, since this helps at the next stage when your child starts blending letters together to make words. If your child is at preschool and the teacher is starting with sounds first, you may want to do this also to avoid confusing your child.

Many of the early literacy activities below can be played using just a few letters at first, so as not to overwhelm your child. A good idea is to start with the letters in your child’s name. Once she has mastered these you can progress to the other letters.

When your child has got the hang of letters, why not try some phonics games which are all about playing with sounds, or literacy games designed to develop word recognition.

Don't let your toddler or preschooler get bored when learning her letters. Go and try some of these early literacy activities and make learning her a's, b's and c's a breeze!

early literacy activities

Simple Letter Games

For the following early literacy activities use plastic letters (eg fridge magnets) or write your own on small squares of card or paper. The first two games would also work well with foam letters in the bath.

  • Letter Bag Put all the letters in a bag. Ask your child to pick out one letter at a time and try to say the letter name/sound.
  • Feely Letters Put around 10 plastic or foam letters in a bag (these could be the letters of your child’s name to start with) and ask your child to pick one. Keeping her eyes closed she should feel it and tell you what she thinks the letter name/sound is.
  • Find a Letter Hide the letters around the room. When your child finds a letter, ask her to say the letter name/sound.
  • Letter Eggs Put a letter in each slot of several egg cartons so that you have all the letters of the alphabet in order. Say a letter name/sound and ask your child to find a letter which makes that sound.
  • Fishing for Letters Make a ‘fishing rod’ using a stick and a piece of string with a magnet tied to the end. Put the magnetic letters in a bowl and ask your child to fish for them. When she picks one up ask her to say the letter name/sound. If you have more time another version of this game is to cut out 26 fish shapes and ask your child to decorate one side of each fish. Write a letter on the other side of the fish and attach a paper clip. Lay the fish on the floor with the letter facing down and ask your child to fish for them.

Letter Card Games

These early literacy activities are best played with letters written on larger pieces of card such as index cards or playing cards.

  • Win the Card Start with around 10 letter cards and show the first one to your child. If she can tell you the letter name/sound she gets to keep the card (to your exaggerated dismay). If she can’t, give her the answer but keep the card yourself. At the end add up the number of cards guessed correctly to give her score. As her score increases, increase the number of letter cards you play with.
  • Memory Game For this classic memory game you need two sets of letters. Choose six pairs of letters, or the letters in your child’s name, shuffle them and lay them out upside down on the floor. Ask your child to turn over two cards at the same time. If the letters match, ask her to say the letter name/sound and then put the cards to one side. If they do not match, ask her to turn them back over and choose two more cards. Continue until all cards are matched. If the letters are from your child’s name, ask her to rearrange the cards to make her name.
  • Letter of the Day Ask your child to choose one of the 26 letter cards. That will be the letter for the day. She can keep the card in a special place all day. Or draw a tree on a large sheet of paper and blue tack the letter to the branches of the tree (it makes more sense if you have read the alphabet book "Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom"!) Spend all day helping your child look for that letter in signs, books, newspapers, labels etc.

Creative Letter Games

If you have a bit of time and want to get more creative try the following early literacy activities.

  • Alphabet Scrapbook Make or buy a book and label each page with a letter of the alphabet, or draw around a plastic letter and ask your child to colour it in. Then ask her to fill each page with pictures cut from magazines, photos or drawings of things starting with that letter. Find more ideas here on reading activities for making books.
  • Alphabet Poster Buy a big sheet of poster paper and divide it into 26 blocks. At the edge of each block write capital and lowercase letters for one letter of the alphabet. Ask your child to choose her favorite magazine picture or photo which starts with that letter and stick it in the block.

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