I firmly believe that play and hands-on activities are the best way for children to learn. Whether they are learning new math concepts, or the skills needed to read, play based activities increase engagement and interest, and therefore learning and retention. This year in school I am teaching and focusing on a lot of small group phonemic awareness activities and things like alphabet games and letter recognition.
These skills are the building blocks to children learning to read. Teaching these skills doesn’t need to be stressful or overwhelming. Below I have gathered 55 fun, phonemic awareness activities including alphabet games and other activities to increase literacy skills.
Start with letter recognition. Play games that allow children to get their hands on the letters of the alphabet. They will soon learn that there is meaning to each of the letters and each letter makes a different sound.
Once children recognize the letters and their connected sounds, you can move onto more reading skills such as rhyming and putting letters together to make words.
As you look through the activities, pick ones that you know your child will enjoy. Choose ones that you already have the materials on hand for. It doesn’t need to be expensive to teach these skills.
Phonemic Awareness Sound and Letter Recognition
As children explore the letters of the alphabet, I suggest saying the sound each letter makes, versus saying the name of the letter. This will help more as children learn to read.
We all know our ABCs, but the suggested order that the alphabet is taught in is (see chart below):
Teaching the letters in this order gives a large range of words that children can create as they work through the alphabet. Word families, such as -at, -in, -ip and -in can all be created from the first six letter.
However, if your children are young, or not yet in school, simply exposing them to the letters and sometimes saying the letter sound as they play is great exposure. You’ll be surprised how much they’ll pick up.
Try out the alphabet games and phonic activities below.
Letter Hunt Alphabet Game
Make the alphabet meaningful as children search around for each letter. You can hide the letters around the house or school and go for a scavenger hunt. However, you can also simply search for each letter on signs and things that are already around.
This is a really simple activity, but is was always one of my students favorites and required little to no prep.
A free printable alphabet sheet is included. Click the link below the picture for more instructions.
Take learning outside with this simple alphabet activity. You don’t need to prepare anything or bring anything with you. Simply use nature to create each letter of the alphabet. This is also a great sensory activity for children.
The Bunny Hop Alphabet Game plays almost like a board game where children hop their way through the alphabet.
Get little ones moving as they learn the alphabet with these ABC Alphabet cards. Each letter of the alphabet holds a different movement that corresponds to the letter.
Work on children’s fine motor skills as they learn the formation of each letter with this alphabet lacing activity. Free printable lacing cards are included.
Free playdough mats for learning letters A-Z guaranteed to make learning hands-on!
Phonemic Awareness Alphabet BINGO
Say the sound a letter makes and challenge children to find the letter on their Alphabet Bingo card. Move through the alphabet until they identify each letter.
DIY Alphabet Puzzle
Use an alphabet puzzle and this fun game to make learning letters and phonics hands on and fun.
I loved playing this game as a child! Add some learning to your child’s play by printing each letter of the alphabet on the pieces. Challenge children to find, and break, specific letters.
If you have play dough on hand, then you will love these Alphabet Play Dough Mats. Make learning hands-on with these mats as children create the letters of the alphabet by forming the letter with dough.
Learning the alphabet has never been so much fun! Kids will love tracing letters with SLIME!
Your preschooler will have so much fun learning the alphabet with this ice cream upper and lower case letters matching game. Simply download the free printable, cut out the cones and scoops of ice cream, and match the letters together!
Animal walks A to Z just might be one of the easiest ways to provide movement activities for kids with zero preparation. Whether you are in a classroom, need to burn off energy at home, or want fun strengthening exercises for kids, this type of gross motor play is awesome!
These Alphabet Crafts are a great idea for the classroom and homeschooling if you focus on one letter at a time. There are a variety of ideas of crafts you can make for each letter of the alphabet. Plus, they are adorable!
Phonemic Awareness Sensory Bin
Make learning the alphabet fun with hands-on activities like this Letter Recognition Sensory Bin!
Alphabet Sensory Play
Learn the ABC’s and have some good ol’ squishy fun with this easy Alphabet Jello Sensory Bin!
Playing letter recognition games like this one is a fun way for your preschoolers and kindergarteners to practice learning the ABC’s
Using Dab a Dot markers, students practice their letters in a hands on visual way.
I know my kids always loved playing with stickers. This simple Letter Match activity is easy and inexpensive to prepare. Children will love searching for matching letters and getting to play, and learn with stickers.
Giving children the opportunity to play with and get their hands on the letters of the alphabet is important as they learn their letters and sounds. This art activity integrates the letters of the alphabet for children to play with and create.
This would be a great activity to try in the spring and summer and get kids outside and get their hands on the alphabet. You only need a few simple materials and it makes a great sensory activity as well.
Integrate learning the alphabet through play with this construction activity that will keep kids busy, playing, and learning.
Use leftover Easter eggs to make this fun alphabet matching game.
Alphabet Games Sensory Play
Kids of all ages will love this sensory alphabet scavenger hunt. Hide the letters and let children explore the shaving cream as they search for each letter of the alphabet.
Betty boo-boo is an easy, DIY learning game and letter matching activity to help your child match uppercase and lowercase letters while building fine motor skills.
This alphabet activity is a mix of a science experiment and a way to practice letters. It is simple to set up and will engage children for a long time. Challenge them to find the letters in order or look for certain sounds.
Children can practice their math skills at the same time as their letters with these Alphabet Pattern Block Printable mats.
This would be a great activity during the spring or summer. Kids will love working to get each of the letters out of the ice.
These jars are not only calming, they are a great way to learn the alphabet.
Alphabet fishing fun! One way to use the cards is for matching upper and lower case letters. Free PDF download.
Try an alphabet scavenger hunt with this printable sheet. Search for specific items or use the blank page to challenge children to find items for every letter of the alphabet.
As children learn their letters, they also need to learn how to print each of them. These tracing sheets are an easy way for children to practice.
Exposure to letters will help children learn and recognize them. This alphabet painting activity includes fine motor, art and language. What a great combination!
Preschool letter activities are a great way for your little ones to get familiar with the alphabet in a fun and exciting way! Your preschoolers will enjoy these activities so much they probably won’t even realize they are learning.
This Alphabet Match activity is simple, but perfect for young children learning their letters. Work to recognize and match upper and lower case letters.
Practice the letters of the alphabet and animals with an easy and fun connection to character education and social emotional learning with this Kindness Zoo activity.
Alphabet yoga is a great way to get kids moving as they practice the letters in the alphabet.
Phonemic Awareness and Letter Games
Once children recognize their letter and letter sounds, you can start to move onto more phonic activities by focusing on the sounds the letters make, on their own and together.
5 Phonemic Awareness Activities
The phonics awareness activities in the post below are a collection of 5 activities that I did with several groups of students at school. Try saying letter sounds, versus letter names and have them find the letter.
These are all hands-on and engaging activities that will get kids excited to learn. A printable is available for FREE in Hands-On Teaching Ideas Resource Library. (Link at bottom of post).
Kids will enjoy these hands-on alphabet clip cards as they practice sounding out the pictures and finding the beginning sounds.
Learn letter recognition, letter case matching, letter sounds, and build fine motor skills with this fun, hands-on learning activity for preschoolers or kindergarteners!
Have fun teaching your child by using their name for these activities. A chalkboard or white board would work well. The letters in your child’s name are the first they will learn and recognize. Use their letters as a starting point for knowing letter sounds.
Use hands on animal figures to sound out animal names and figure out beginning sounds.
This Alphabet Game would be great as a back to school activity, or as a review any time of year! Challenge children to find a school word for each letter of the alphabet. From staplers to crayons, this would make a great scavenger hunt type activity.
Use Easter eggs for this rhyming words activity. The eggs are great for any spring themed activity, but they are easy to prepare and can be used year round. The eggs make it more fun for kids as a hands-on activity.
Phonological Awareness Active Game
This word building activity will have kids running and learning as they play! Roll and sound out the words that they make.
Integrating art into an alphabet activity is a great, and easy way to engage children. Have children find and put together the letters in their name to create a beaded name necklace.
Use stickers to create beginning sound pancakes. Click link below for full activity ideas and instructions.
Use plastic links to connect the letter to the picture beginning sound. Download the free printables to start practicing today.
If you know a little one interested in construction, use these construction themed activities to help reinforce letters and sounds.
Hands-On Rhyming Activity
Play a rhyming game with paper plates. Grab the free printable of rhyming pictures to quickly prepare the activity.
This sunflower beginning sound phonics and art activity is a great way to practice beginning sounds – and make a beautiful flower.
Looking for a simple-to-use, hands-on alphabet activity for your students to work on beginning sounds? These beginning sounds letter match-up mats are for you!
Start with the letters in your child’s name for this sensory, phonics activity. Children can search for the letters to spell their name or search for all of the letters in the alphabet.
Looking for a simple beginning sounds alphabet activity? These pencil alphabet puzzles are going to be so helpful!
I know a lot of kids who would love this activity! Find the beginning sound letter and hammer it down.
Follow up with your child’s learning with this Alphabet Letter and Beginning Sounds Workbook. With fun, engaging activities to reinforce the learning skills needed to help children read.
For a limited time only, use coupon code “ABCdiscount” to get the product for the discounted price of $3.00. Ideal for classroom, homeschool or extra practice.
Free Alphabet and Phonemic Awareness Activites
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you are looking for more engaging learning activities for children, below are a few of my most popular and favorite activities to try at home or school.
From more phonemic awareness activities and writing lessons to story telling and printable worksheets and activities.