Are you trying to teach letter identification? Are your kids tired of worksheets? I don’t blame them. Worksheets can be boring. It’s much better to teach letter identification through play. So, here are five fun and active games that you can use to help your child learn their letters.
For even more help teaching reading, please check out my homeschool curriculum Teaching Reading Through Play.
For each of the games, you will need a set of homemade letter cards. Here’s how to make them.
How to Make Homemade Letter Cards
Homemade letter cards are a fun addition to your homeschool. They’re inexpensive, and fairly durable. To make a set of your own, you’ll need:
- 52 Index Cards
- 1 permanent marker (like a Sharpie)
To make the cards, simply write one large letter on the unlined side of each card. You will create a set of 26 uppercase letter cards, and 26 lowercase letter cards.
Once you’re done, the cards are ready to use. You can use them to play these games, or to create your own.
Note: Using all 52 cards at once is overwhelming for many games. Instead pick just a few to focus on for each game. You can select letters your child struggles with, or ones they are just learning. You can also opt to pick letters they already know for a review.
1. Letter Targets
If you have a child who loves to play with Nerf guns, this is a fun active game. You will need:
- 10 letter cards
- 1o paper cups
- A Nerf gun
- Darts for the Nerf gun
You will want to play this game in an open space. Look around an make sure nothing can get damaged from a mis-aimed dart. You may even want to head outside for this one.
Set up ten paper cups around the space. You want them spread out fairly far apart, to make it easier.
Lean one of your letter cards against each cup, so the letter is the correct side up and visible.
Once everything is set up, call your student over. Hand them the Nerf gun and tell them to prepare to fire.
Call out a letter, and have your student fire a dart at that letter. Their goal is to knock the letter card on the ground. It’s okay if it takes more than one dart.
After that letter card is down, have them call out what it was and bring the card over to you. Then they can collect their darts and reload for the next target.
Continue calling out letters until all of them have been hit.
2. Letter Card Hopscotch
For this game you will need:
- 10 letter cards at a time
- Masking tape
- A large area of floor
Alternatively, you can play this on a sidewalk. If you opt to do that, you will not need the masking tape. Instead, you’ll need sidewalk chalk.
To prepare, create a hopscotch grid on the floor with masking tape. Or draw one with sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk. Either way, make sure each square is large enough for your child to comfortably stand in on one foot.
Once the grid is ready, place a letter card face up in each square.
Have your child jump through the grid, calling out each letter as they get to it.
Then, call out a letter that’s in the grid. This time, your child has to hop over that letter when they get there.
Continue calling out different letters, until your child has had a chance to hop over them all.
Then, play one final round. Have your child call out each letter and bend over to collect the card.
If desired, you can put down ten new cards and play some more.
Make sure you pull up the masking tape when you’re done to avoid damage to your floor.
3. Find the Baby Letters
In our house, I introduce my children to capital and lowercase letters by calling them Mommy letters and Baby letters. Mommies and babies go together, so it’s a concept they already understand. Then, we begin using the terms capital and lowercase.
For this game, your child will be running around the room looking for hidden baby letters. As they find each one, they will reunite them with their mommy counterpart.
To prepare, separate the lowercase letters from the uppercase ones. Then, spread the uppercase letters out across your table, counter, or floor. You need a space where you have room for all 26 letters.
Then, hide the lowercase letter cards around the room. Make some of them obvious, and hide some in harder spots.
When you’re set up, bring your child in. Point to the uppercase letters and tell them that the babies went off to play and now the mommies need help rounding them up. Then send your child off to look.
When they spot a lowercase letter, they can say what it is. Then, they can run over and place it on top of the mommy letter.
Once all letters have been reunited, take time to sing the ABC song together.
4. ABC Jump
For this game, your child will jump from card to card in alphabetical order. If your child is new to letter identification, this is a fun way to start. The goal is to help them identify the letters as they sing the ABC song.
To prepare, select either the uppercase or lowercase letters. Then set the other ones aside.
Spread the letter cards out on the ground. Keep them in ABC order, but spread them out so there is room between them. However, you don’t want too large of a gap. Otherwise your child may get discouraged.
When the cards are ready, have your child come and stand on A. Ask them to sing the ABC song, jumping from one card to the next as they do. If they get off, stop them and have them start over.
You may need to model this one for them at first.
Then, have your child pick up the cards in ABC order, while singing the song again.
5. Letter Toss
In addition to the letter cards, you’ll need a pair of rolled socks for this game.
Spread out the letter cards in random order, on the floor. Hand your child the rolled up socks, and as them to toss the socks onto the cards.
Once it lands, they run over and collect the card the socks are closest to. They have to tell you what letter it is, and then they can throw again.
Continue until all of the cards are picked up.
Learning to Read Doesn’t Have to Be Boring
Children learn best through play, so make sure to integrate some of these (and other) games into your school. You really can teach your children to read!
And if your children enjoyed these games, be sure to pick up my curriculum, Teaching Reading Through Play.