If you’re a parent of a toddler or preschooler, learning the letters of the alphabet is a crucial step in your child’s ability to learn to read and can even lower their risk of academic failure. So how do you teach letter recognition?

Start with an ABC chart.

In today’s guide, you’ll learn 14 super fun hands-on ABC chart activities you can do with your young child to learn how to work on letter recognition.

Plus, I have 6 free printable nature ABC posters for you with watercolor artwork that you can download and print to do the activities at home.

And I’ll cover the purpose of an alphabet chart and the right way to use it.

Why it’s important to your child’s literacy success.

And some important common problems with ABC charts that you need to avoid (based on research). Let’s dive in.

Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means I might earn a small commission if you love something as much as I do. But I only recommend what I actually like myself.

What is an Alphabet Chart?

I bet you’ve seen an ABC chart (or an alphabet poster) – you know the ones, with all 26 letters and cute pictures next to each letter — and thought, That’s adorable, and I know I should teach my preschooler letters, but um…what are ABC charts?

14 clever learning the letters of the alphabet activities for your preschooler or toddler. Download this free printable ABC chart to start letter recognition activities. Learn how to use an ABC chart correctly, with hands on learning ideas.

Well, an ABC chart is a poster with all 26 letters of the alphabet on it. And it sometimes has a picture next to each letter representing that letter sound. Like, A and a picture of an apple.

Alphabet charts are amazing for your preschooler, kindergarten kid, and first-grade child – because you use them to teach them letter recognition and letter sounds. Which we all know, you gotta know letters before you can learn to read.

Let’s take a look at the different ways ABC charts can be used.

what are ABC charts used for?

Fun Classroom Activities for Teachers

Alphabet charts are probably best known for being used in the classroom as a warm-up activity or with small groups. Because you can use them in fun alphabet games like playing ABC bingo, or even set up a letter scavenger hunt, it makes them great for small groups to play with.

Busy Parents at Home

But, alphabet charts are great learning tools to use at home too. If you are a mom or parent, I’m guessing you’ve wondered what you can do to prep your preschooler to get ready for kindergarten. Using an alphabet chart printable for preschool is an excellent way to prepare.

Wondering what are ABC charts used for? Here are 14 clever activity ideas to use an alphabet poster. Use different letter variations like this cursive letter ABC chart for fun activities like matching the letters from a sensory bin. Great hands on learning activity for preschool, pre-k and kindergarten. Free printable download.

How to breeze through kindergarten requirements. In kindergarten, your kiddo will need to meet a few literacy common core standards, like recognizing letters (uppercase and lowercase), as well as understanding the relationship between letters and sounds.

The ABC chart ideas below make great kindergarten readiness activities for parents looking to make sure their preschooler is fully prepped for school. Read on for more details of how to make alphabet chart at home.

Part of a Comprehensive Homeschool Curriculum

And they are a great way to work in teaching letter names and sounds to young children in a homeschool curriculum too.

Why do we use Alphabet Charts?

Kids benefit from using ABC charts by learning names of the letters, building their fine motor skills, and as a tool to expand their knowledge of different letter types.

Easily Learn Fundamental Letter Recognition + Letter Sounds

ABC letter charts are a reference sheet for kids to visually learn what each letter looks like, and then to associate the letter sound it makes.

Learning letters is one of the fundamental steps they’ll need to be able to learn to read on their literacy journey.

And, when you get creative, the chart of the alphabet can be a fantastic teaching tool for your kiddo to get hands-on and interactive with learning their ABC’s.

But, it goes so much further than just reading success.

If you are wondering what are the benefits of letter recognition, it sets your preschooler up for academic success. Find out 14 creative ways you can teach your toddler or pre-k child the alphabet using a free ABC chart to help them with letter recognition activities. Read more and grab your free printable.

So, what are the benefits of letter recognition? Alphabet recognition is a strong predictor of reading abilities, and ultimately contributes to positive reading achievements and lowers the risk of academic failure, according to researchers at the University of Missouri.

Helping your Pre-K kid learn the alphabet can put them on the path for their future academic success. AND, it’s so easy to do.

Build Fine Motor Skills

An extra bonus – when you use your alphabet letter chart with hands-on activities, they’re probably going to be working on their fine motor skills too.

Explore Letter Variations

But you know what? Once your young learner has basic letters down, you can use the chart to explore other variations of letters like lowercase letters, uppercase letters, cursive, etc. Let’s explore some different chart types.

Types of Alphabet Charts

Use different types of ABC charts to introduce different letter variations. Here are a few ideas. (And most of these are included in the free download – at the bottom of the post.)

Keep It Engaging With Pictures

An alphabet picture chart includes a fun photo next to the letter. This is especially useful for younger kids because you’re teaching letters through association with an object. Usually, the object uses a beginning letter sound that matches the letter. Like, A for Apple. 

new york city alphabet printable
New York City Alphabet Poster

And a colorful alphabet chart can keep kids engaged.  And they are also useful because you can base activities around them.  Like covering the letter and having your child say the beginning letter sound of the object in the image.

Can we talk about one thing though?

Why do 99% of the printable ABC charts out there use ugly clipart that looks like it peaked in 1996?


To be honest, I can be pretty picky about kid’s stuff in my house – and I found my happy medium is to surround myself with pretty designs on kid’s learning material that we both love.  Win-win. And the best part is that in addition to being educational, I can use it as decor too. 

That’s why I made my printable ABC chart with hand illustrations and watercolor designs – and with nature-inspired photos, because it’s something both me and my toddler love.

Simple Charts Without pictures

Kindergarten students and older children may not need the pictures to help with letter practice, and posters with no pictures might be less distracting for them. A great kindergarten ABC chart might skip the pictures and just have alphabet letters.

3 free printable alphabet charts including capital and lowercase letters, cursive ABC chart and a letter coloring page. Download and print to create an ABC chart at home
Download 6 Free Alphabet Charts

Lowercase Letters & Uppercase Letters

As kids get further into letter recognition, you’ll need to expose them to the difference between lowercase and uppercase letters. Some charts might have one or both. You can repeat the same set of activities for matching lower case letters, and then repeat it for upper case letters.

ABC chart in cursive

Once your young learner has a good grasp of printed letters, a cursive ABC chart can help them start to explore different font and typography styles.

Vowels highlighted

After kids learn the names of letters, ABC charts can be a great tool to explore other letter concepts and categories like vowels and consonants. One example might be where vowels are highlighted among the letters.

Common Problems with ABC Charts

It’s important that kids are able to hear the specific sounds individual phonemes in order to build phonemic awareness, according to the Science of Reading. Sometimes, ABC charts will use objects or examples that don’t represent the clearest usage of a phoneme. Here are some examples.

The Letter G

The letter G can have different pronunciations depending on the word it’s used in. A lot of times a giraffe is used to represent G, but this is actually a /j/ sound and not the best at illustrating the harder /g/ sound. Instead, my alphabet chart uses a goat for the letter G.

The correct letter G sound for an alphabet chart is a goat not a giraffe

The Letter E

The letter E can be confusing because many times it’s followed by a letter that can change the sound of the short vowel sound of /e/. For example, an elephant, kids will hear the letter L instead of the e. My alphabet chart uses an egg, which is pronounced with an /e/ sound.

The Letter X

The letter X is a tough one. The /ks/ sound doesn’t occur at the beginning of many words. And when it does, it’s not a simple one that is easy for kids to pronounce or understand the meaning. And many kid-friendly words like X-ray or Xylophone don’t represent the /ks/ pronunciation. So, for the letter X, I use a fox photo, which illustrates the sound at the end of the word, different from all other letters represented.

Letter X in an alphabet chart

Tips On Using Alphabet Charts

Is your child struggling with letter recognition? Make sure that you’re focusing on letter sounds first (not the letter names). Go slowly and only work on one letter at a time, only moving on when your child has a solid grasp of a letter before moving to the next. Also, make sure you set your expectations that learning letters and sounds takes years — not days. This is a skill that is practiced and practiced over time.

14 Creative Ideas of How To Use An Alphabet Chart

Use these hands-on, playful alphabet activities with your preschooler or kindergarten student for fun ways to teach letter recognition. Each activity below could be used with different types of charts described above, depending on what your kiddo is currently working on.

Hot tip! Make. It. Fun. ABC charts aren’t meant for you to drill your kiddo on, or make them memorize. The key is keeping it light, interactive, and FUN. Because if they catch even a whiff of forced learning, they are going to run for the hills.  So remember: Fun. Games. Play.

Idea for using an ABC chart: point at the letter and say it. Use fun pointing props like a wand, stick, chop stick or crazy straw to make it engaging and fun. Helps preschool kids learn the alphabet and letter recognition. Download a free ABC chart for this activity.

1. Alphabet Point & Say

One super simple way of using the chart – just point and say the individual letters, the sound it makes, and the object. A “ah” apple. Keep it interesting by using something fun to point with. A wand with ribbons, a stick you found in the yard, a crazy straw, or a flashlight.  Anything interactive and fun. Oh, and when in doubt, sing the alphabet song using the chart.

Idea for learning the alphabet: use a coloring page of letters and say each letter and letter sound then color in the associated picture. Great hands-on way to learn. Alphabet chart featuring nature and animal photos to color that represent each letter of the alphabet. Free printable.

2. Color the Letter

It’s important to add an element of tactile manipulation for young learners while they learn letters. One way to do that is to use an alphabet coloring chart. Say the letter, say the sound, say the object, then color the object. B, “buh” bear, then color the bear. My free printable includes a coloring alphabet chart for you to download.

Play Alphabet Bingo with an ABC chart to help preschoolers learn their letters. Fun activity idea with a free printable ABC poster. Uses hands on manipulatives. Great for learning. Developmentally appropriate and helps get kid ready for kindergarten.

3. Alphabet Bingo

This one is great for groups but you can play it with just one child too. Call out a letter or letter sound. When your child finds the letter, they cover it with playdough to mark their letter.  When they get 5 squares in a row (horizontal, vertical, or diagonal) they win! 

ABC sensory bin activity idea. Add letter cut outs to a sensory bin with dried beans. Show toddler or preschool kid how to match the letter cut outs to an ABC chart. This alphabet chart features cursive letters. Great hands on manipulation activity for developmentally appropriate learning for pre-k kids.

4. ABC Sensory Bin

Fill a tray or bin with sensory material (I like to use dried beans because that’s what we always have on hand). Print 2 copies of the chart. For 1 copy, cut out each letter square. Add them to a sensory bin. When your child fishes them out of the sensory bin, have them say the letter, sound, and object (A “ah” apple) then match it to the same letter on the chart. 

Play a letter matching game using an ABC chart and wooden letters or fridge magnets. Helps kids learn letters. Great hands on learning activity. For kindergarten readiness for preschool and Pre-K kids.

5. Tactile Letter Match

Grab a set of physical letters – like wooden letters or fridge magnets. Or you can even make your own by writing the letters on little circles of paper. The main thing is that they can pick them up and match them. Then model how to match the physical letters to the ABC chart – saying the letter, letter sound, and the object.

Play this missing letter game to help your preschool kid learn the alphabet. Cover one letter on an ABC chart with a post it note. Have your child look at the picture and sound out the letter sound and say the letter name.  Download the free ABC chart to play at home.

6. What’s the Missing Letter?

Cover 1 letter on the chart with a post-it note. Have your child look at the object, and say the object’s name. Then say the letter sound of the object. Uncover it and see if they got it right.

Kids running in a relay race activity

7. ABC Relay Race

If your kiddo doesn’t like to sit still to learn, this activity is for them! And bonus – it’s a great way to add some gross motor play to their day. It’s also a great game to play with small groups of kids – in a classroom, or if you’re having a playgroup or kids’ party. To play, print out 2 copies per kid. Cut out the letter blocks for 1 print per kid. On one side of the room/yard, each kid will have a basket of cut-out letters. On the other side of the room/yard, each kid will have their ABC chart. When you say GO, have them grab 1 cut-out letter at a time, and run to the chart to match it.  Once they match it, run back to get another letter.  The first person to match all of their letters wins!

An ABC chart can be used to sort the letters into alphabetical order. Cut out each letter individually, mix them up and model putting them back in order. Great for kids to learn the alphabet. Download a free printable ABC chart for this learning activity idea.

8. ABCD Sorting

Print out 1 chart and cut out the letters. Have them sort the whole alphabet back in alphabetical order from A to Z. This activity is also a great way to practice sequencing, an important cognitive skill your kiddo needs for everyday life + learning.

Group of kids playing letter charades by acting out the animal or object and everyone guessing what it is. Then the kids say the letter sound and letter name of the animal. Great play group activity, daycare activity or babysitter idea. Great for groups and parties for learning fun.

9. Alphabet Charades

Another great group game. Print 1 ABC chart and cut out each letter block. Put them all in a bag or hat, scrambled up. One kid draws a letter at random (and only they look at the letter).  Without saying words (though they can make animal sounds), they “act out” the object on the card (i.e. they can walk on all 4 legs and moo if they draw a cow). The other players guess the answer by saying the letter, letter sound, and object (i.e. c, “ca”, cow). Then the next kid draws a letter until all letters are acted out.

Use an ABC chart to learn vowels and consonants. Cut out each letter and sort them into 2 trays: vowels and consonants. Helps kids learn letter recognition and types of letters. Great hands on manipulation activity for kindergarten, first graders and second graders. Download a free printable ABC chart.

10. Vowel & Consonant Sorting

Older children who are learning vowels and consonants can play this sorting game. Print out 1 chart and cut out the letters. Have them sort the whole alphabet into 2 baskets – vowels and consonants. 

Use an ABC chart to get creative with storytelling. Draw a letter at random and start to create a story around the animal/object on the card. Say a few sentences. This photo is of an O for Ostrich. The ostrich likes to run fast. Download the free ABC chart to play this learning activity for kids.

11. Creative Storytelling

Print out 1 chart and cut out the letters. Draw one letter at random and create a story using that object as a character in your story.  Say the letter/sound/object, then 1-2 sentences about the animal/object.  I.e. If I drew an O for Ostrich, I could say “O, “ah”, Ostrich….There was an ostrich named Bruce who loved running really fast.” Then, draw the next letter and keep adding to your story together. 

Match letters of the alphabet to an ABC chart for a fun way to learn the alphabet. Great for kindergarten readiness. Easy activity to set up for busy moms or classroom teachers. Great daycare activity too or small group playgroup.

12. Letter Seek and Find

Print 2 copies, and cut the letters out of one set. Hide the letters around the room (or yard). When your kid finds each one, they say the letter and the sound then match it to the chart.

Play a game of alphabet go fish to help kids learn letters through fun games.

13. Play Letter Go Fish

Print out 5-6 copies and cut each of the letters out. Use them to play Go Fish. You can request things by letters or sounds: “Give me all of your B’s” or “Give me all of your “buh” sounds.” Or if your kiddo is learning vowels & consonants you can even make requests like “Give me all of your vowels.” (You can even use this activity for toddlers who aren’t learning letters yet and just request animals!)

Use an ABC chart with capital letters and lower case letters to match them together. Great for preschool kids and kindergarten readiness. Easy hands on activity that's low prep. Great for busy moms and classroom teachers.

14. Upper to Lowercase Letter Matching

Print out 1 copy of the lowercase letter chart and 1 copy of the uppercase letter chart. Cut out each letter for both charts. Then have your child map the upper and lower case letters together. You can even print the mixed case chart to use as a way to check their answers.

Download Your Free Printable Alphabet Chart

Your free download includes 6 printable ABC charts. Each one is a colorful chart with all 26 letters of the English language and is designed for you to do all of the activities described above. All are free resources for personal use only.

A few notes on the letter charts. 

  • These are simple alphabet charts – with animals/objects that kids should know (or easily learn) that are easy to pronounce. 
  • Give your kiddo time to learn. Pick one letter at a time, and slowly add them. Lower your expectations and just have fun with it. And just know it’s normal if it takes them a long time to start learning their letters.
Lowercase letter ABC chart free printable download
ABC Chart Lowercase
Uppercase letter alphabet chart. Free printable for learning the alphabet. Download and create at home for letter recognition activities.
Uppercase Letter Alphabet Chart
Use this ABC chart capital and lowercase letters for letter recognition activities for preschool and pre-kids
ABC Chart Capital and Lowercase
ABC chart in cursive free printable for preschool and pre-k kids
ABC Chart in Cursive
ABC chart without lines free printable
ABC Chart without Lines
Coloring page letters printable PDF
Coloring Page Letters

Want More Super Fun Activities?

I’ve got you covered! Oh, and if we haven’t met, hi! I’m Stefanie—designer of printable activities for busy moms who want their toddlers and preschoolers to love learning (through play). If you like this ABC chart and want more Little Moon in your life, here are some ideas:

Check out these ABC flash cards. Get even more interactive with your letter learning by adding these nature-inspired letter flashcards.  This bundle includes 4 sizes/styles of cards designed to grow with your child. 

Subscribe to my newsletter. I send one play activity idea, once a week, giving you some serious inspiration for what to do with your toddler or preschooler that week. I send out freebies and special treats, all for my email list.

Read the rest of my blog. It’s home to lots of play & learn activities, arts & crafts projects, activities to build your kiddo’s cognitive skills, and Montessori activity ideas and info.

Shop my printable activities. Explore nature-themed printable activities for your toddler and preschooler to help them learn through play. All hands-on activities — the healthiest way for your young kiddo to learn. And designed with watercolor artwork, so you’ll love adding it to your beautiful home.

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I'm Stefanie—Founder & Designer For Little Moon

If you’re a toddler or preschooler parent who dreams of having a kid who is captivated by learning — but are too busy raising your tiny human on exactly 3 hours of sleep to research educational activities — nice to meet you, I’m your new solution.

I’m a cognitive psychologist + toddler mom, and I design nature printable activities to help your little one grow, learn and thrive through hands-on play, in a healthy way.

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