Teaching Tips

4 Letter Recognition Activities for Preschoolers

letter recognition activities for preschoolers

Preschool is a time of significant cognitive skill development. One of the foundational skills that is important for future academic success is letter recognition.


What Is Letter Recognition?

In our Get Set For School curriculum, we define Alphabet Knowledge, or Letter Recognition, as the ability to name the letters of the alphabet and recognize letters in print. This is everything about letters that isn’t writing. It’s singing, speaking, matching, sorting, and naming. It is also one of the most accurate predictors of early reading success (Johnston 2004).


Research shows that letter recognition is enhanced by writing letters in preschool (Fancher, Priestley-Hopkins, & Jeffries, 2018; Li & James, 2016). In fact, handwriting letters is further enhanced by completing activities with various fonts of letters (Li & James, 2016).


How to Teach Letter Identification

Many letter recognition activities can be done at school, home, and in various other environments. However, it is important to engage your  child in the activities.

  • They should be fun and interesting to help motivate the child to participate.
  • These activities are not dependent on the child’s ability to hold or manage a writing tool.
  • They’re still active and hands-on. Many of these activities have a social component as children recognize letters in their names and in the names of other people in their lives.
  • When introducing writing, paper and pencil improves letter recognition more than using a stylus on a screen or typing letters on a keyboard (Mayer, C., Wallner, S., Budde-Spengler, N., Braunert, S., Arndt, P. A., & Kiefer, M. 2020).  
  • However, many children are motivated by digital activities, so it is important to balance digital activities and non-screen activities when addressing letter recognition of preschool children.

Fun Preschool Letter Recognition Activities

Find Letters

  • Point out letters around the home and in the child’s environment and you and the child say the names of them together (keyboard at home, magnetic letters on the refrigerator, letters on signs, puzzles, storybooks).
  • Make this an independent activity by hiding letters around the house for your children to find. Check out this video by my fellow presenter, Katrina Erickson for details.
    Letter Fun (Pre-K)

    Katrina Erickson, OTR talks about having letter fun with young learners.

    Posted by Learning Without Tears on Tuesday, May 12, 2020


Match Letters

  • Work on matching letters. First match the same case letters (i.e., match K with K). Then progress to matching capital to lowercase (i.e., match K with k). You can use our A-B-C Touch and Flip® cards for a multisensory experience or Make Your Own Letter Cards.

Build Letters


Handwriting-based Activities to Increase Letter Recognition

Make sure the child has an example of the letter to see when completing writing alphabet activities. They should not be expected to do them from memory.


Trace and Copy

Teach the child how to trace and copy letters (capitals are easier than lowercase).

  • Use a variety of writing tools (crayons, chalk, colored pencils, markers) and colors when tracing and copying to increase motivation to participate.
  • Small tools are easier to hold and move around than large ones. Some of my favorite tools are FLIP Crayons® and Little Chalk Bits, designed specifically for little hands.
  • Use fingers in various substances to trace letters (substances such as shaving cream, rice, sand, foam soap in the bathtub). I love this examples using colored salt.
  • Our Wet-Dry-Try activity is another great multisensory way to introduce handwriting.
  • Participte in digital letter formation activities in moderation (i.e., Wet-Dry-Try App https://wetdrytry.com/). It is important that you ensure the digital activity includes a demonstration and does not allow the child to start in the wrong place or complete the strokes in the wrong order, or it could reinforce negative habits instead of teaching good ones.


Letter Recognition Is Easy with Learning Without Tears!

Letter recognition activities do not have to take a lot of time or be difficult to prepare. The important thing is to incorporate them often throughout the day and week to continue to build letter recognition skills and enhance literacy skills in elementary school.


At Learning Without Tears, the activities found within our Pre-K curriculum, Get Set For School, address the broad range of alphabet experiences and knowledge in your classroom. Click here to learn more.





Denise Donica's picture
By Denise Donica Dr. Denise Donica completed her Doctor of Health Science and Master of Health Science in occupational therapy at the University of Indianapolis in 2007 and 2005 respectively. She also holds a bachelors degree in psychology/criminal justice and occupational therapy from Indiana University. Dr. Donica is an Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Occupational Therapy at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Dr. Donica’s focus of clinical practice has been with the pediatric population through school systems, outpatient practice, and telehealth. She has been using the Handwriting Without Tears® curriculum over 15 years and a National Workshop Presenter for over 12 years. She has conducted and published research related to student success, handwriting skills, and keyboarding skills. She has also presented nationally and internationally on handwriting and keyboarding-related research.