Interacting directly with toddlers is an effective way to teach the ABCs, according to Scholastic’s Francie Alexander. Try singing the alphabet song with toddlers, drawing letters and reading books together. Spend time sounding out the letters for toddlers to hear to help them form a mental connection between the letter and the sound it makes. Allowing toddlers free drawing time, without the aid of coloring books, will help them draw lines and curves, the building blocks of the written alphabet.
Use wooden blocks, cardboard flash cards or refrigerator magnets to introduce toddlers to letters. Allow the toddler to play freely with the toys bearing the alphabet. Repeated visual exposure to the alphabet will help toddlers become familiar with the shapes of letters.
Pour uncooked rice onto a cookie sheet. Spread out the rice. Draw letters of the alphabet in the rice with the pointer finger. Help the toddler draw letters and shapes in the rice. Give older toddlers a chop stick or unsharpened pencil and encourage the toddler to work on her fine motor skills. Learning the fine motor skill of grasping a drawing utensil is a precursor to learning how to print letters.
Play alphabet games in the grocery store with a toddler. Point out large letters above grocery store aisles or on products. Ask the toddler to locate specific letters or to call out letters she recognizes. The same can be done while you are out for a walk with a toddler or riding in a car.
Spray shave cream or bath foam soap into the shape of letters, either on a cookie sheet at the table or while in the tub. Ask toddlers to name the letter. Let the toddler make letter requests for you to draw with the foam, including the letters in her name.
Have a treasure hunt in your home and instruct the toddler to search for objects that begin with specific letters. Use letters that are related to her favorite toys or objects in the house. Draw a map with letters on paper and roll it up into a scroll, for a more formal game.
- Do not let toddlers play with alphabet magnets without supervision, as a loose magnet poses a choking hazard.