Learning the Alphabet: Best Activities for the ABCs – Busy Toddler

Busy Toddler


What’s the best way for kids to learn the alphabet?

PLAY. OF COURSE! As much as we might think adults need to have a big hand and push into kids learning the alphabet, that’s just not always the case: Kids learn the alphabet when they play with it.

No stressing needed in the early years.

RELATED: Looking for a year’s worth of learning all done for you? Check out Playing Preschool.

How do you help your child learn the alphabet?

By letting them play with it. Kids need exposure to it – the same way they have exposure to animals, dolls, cars, trucks, numbers, and blocks.

The truth is: memorizing letter names is just that, memorizing. While it may seem super fancy, memorizing letter names is no different than memorizing dinosaur names, color words, princesses, and Paw Patrol characters.

It’s memorizing the name of a symbol.

The difference is, parents have been told that memorizing the ABCs is the key to learning success. That’s just not true.

Learning in the early years shouldn’t be relegated to just memorizing. The early years is for learning to problem solve, communicate, critical think, to ask question, to take risks, to develop life long skills… and they develop all these through PLAY.

It all comes back to PLAY.

TODDLERS LEARNING ABCS: What do you do if you toddler isn't interested in learning their ABCs? How do you teach a toddler the alphabet? Should toddlers be learning their ABCs? by Busy Toddler

Learning the alphabet is no different than learning animals names

Our children see animals everywhere, and we encourage them to learn names and sounds as they do.

“That’s a cow. It says mooooo.”

Letters are no different. We are asking a child to memorize the name and the sound it makes.

“That’s an M. It says mmmmm.”

We don’t build up animal names. We don’t worry about animal names. We don’t buy flashcards to help memorize names and sounds faster.

But we do with letters.

We don’t need to.

Expose your child to letters as they play – as they’re interested

Just like we don’t push animals, or construction trucks, or dinosaur names on little kids if they aren’t interested… follow the same rule with letters.

But if you DO HAVE A CHILD INTERESTED IN LETTERS, play with them. Answer questions. Be casual. Be cool. It’ll happen.

Remember, kids are expected to learn the alphabet IN KINDERGARTEN (that’s what the Common Core State Standards say).

Amazing activity to help your child PLAY with the alphabet

Here’s some of our greatest hits from through the years that helped my kids learn their letters bit by bit.

Nothing fancy. Just play and fun, light and breezy.

Alphabet Scoop and Transfer

A combination literacy + sensory + life skills activity that can’t be beat. A good set of alphabet magnets (like the ones here) are a must!

ALPHABET MATCHING ACTIVITY: A quick and easy preschool activity; learning letters activity; alphabet knowledge activity; easy rainy day activity from Busy Toddler

Alphabet Match-up

Identifying capital letters and their small letter counterparts is a big deal… but it’s also similar to kids recognizing several breeds of bears or that Great Danes and Poodles are both dogs.

It’s another skill that grows over time.

ABC PAINT MATCH: This quick and easy activity is a mix of art and literacy. An easy kids activity thats perfect to do at home from Busy Toddler

ABC Paint

A little art + letter recognition here, and this activity uses alphabet magnets too. They’re an important toy/supply to keep on hand!

ABC PUZZLE BIN: A quick and easy toddler activity using Dollar Store Supplies; a fun activity from Busy Toddler

The tag line is right here: all these supplies came from the Dollar Store! The Dollar Store is a GREAT place to find activity supplies.

ABC Color Sort: A quick and easy toddler activity; color sorting activity from Busy Toddler; a fun way to introduce the alphabet to toddlers; letter naming activity

ABC & Color Sort

I spy alphabet magnets again!!! This is a FUN activity for littles – because it’s a color sorting activity that uses alphabet pieces as the materials. My son (in this photo) didn’t know his ABCs yet, but he had a ball playing with them.

POST-IT MATCH: A quick and easy toddler alphabet activity; a preschool alphabet activity; easy indoor activity; fun rainy day activity from Busy Toddler

Post-It Match

Always a favorite! This is a MATCHING activity – and my daughter had a ball trying to put her letters back in alphabetical order.

ABC TUBE: An easy letter matching activity that's perfect for toddlers and preschoolers; an easy indoor activity for toddlers; a preschool letters activity; alphabet activity from Busy Toddler

ABC Tube

Grab your toilet tube collection and your dot stickers. This is a great (and portable!) activity for kids.

ALPHABET FIND: A quick and easy activity for toddlers; this activity will get kids moving and learning; kids will love this fun indoor activity that's great for learning letter names and letter sounds

Alphabet Find

A classic here. This has been on repeat since 2016 and we play it ALL THE TIME. It’s part letters, part gross motor, and one of the greatest “sittervising” activities of my life.

ALPHABET POST-IT WALL: A simple literacy activity for toddlers and preschoolers; create an easy indoor activity; quick and easy rainy day activity

Alphabet Post-It Wall

An activity that focuses on “tricky letters.” This activity is for all those letters that look different in capital vs lower case form. Ss and Cc are easy letters. Ee and Gg? Tricky letters.

EASY ALPHABET MATCHING ACTIVITY: Check out this easy indoor activity for toddlers; preschoolers will love this alphabet activity; a fun sensory and literacy activity from Busy Toddler

Alphabet Match

Hello to one of my favorite activities and favorite TRICKS. Yes, that sharpie really does come off. And everyone say hi to my alphabet magnets yet again…

ERASE THE ALPHABET: A fun and simple alphabet activity that toddlers and preschoolers will love; quick and easy toddler activity; preschool alphabet activity; homeschool activity, easy alphabet activity

Erase the ABCs

I can still remember the first time we did this! Feels like yesterday so you know that makes me feel OLD. It’s a classic for a reason… and the reason I got so many dinners made with 3 under 4.

PUZZLE UNWRAP: A quick and easy kids activity - just wrap up puzzle pieces. A fun indoor activity for kids from Busy Toddler

Puzzle Unwrap

Look at this cutie unwrapping his puzzle pieces. What kid doesn’t love opening a present? 26 alphabet puzzle pieces is one mighty fine way to play with the ABCs.

LETTER HUNT: A simple sensory and literacy activity for toddlers and preschoolers; introducing the alphabet; an easy indoor activity

Letter Hunt

Featuring one of my favorite alphabet toys: the foam bath letters. Not just for the bath, and totally awesome to play with. We still have a set of these!

Above all else, remember: learning the letters is about exposure NOT drilling

You don’t need to drill the alphabet.

You don’t need to stress about the alphabet.

Have some alphabet toys and have some fun… and keep remember: they learned their animal names and sounds just fine. This will happen too.


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