Teaching the Alphabet : A Sequence Guide

Alphabet Sequence Guide

TEACHING THE ABCs: A Sequence Guide

Ready to help your youngster learn the ABCs?

Does s/he know the ABC song?

Is s/he drawing letters to make words & then, reading them?

Educators & Language experts agree the ABC-way to learn the alphabet is not the easiest or most  effective path to take when teaching the Literacy foundation steps of reading & writing.

There are several “philosophies” regarding the  order of how the alphabet can be taught. Letter recognition and its sound should be taught together at your child’s own pace.

Make the lessons part of a daily routine – “Who’s ready for alphabet time?!?” They should be short, repetitious & review-able – unless your child says otherwise.

Teaching upper & lowercase letters together depends, again, on your child. Uppercase letters are, visually, easier to recognize and physically, easier to write. It does take some time for a kindergartner to “re-write” his/her name, using upper & lowercase letters.

What Letters Does Your Child Know ?

Before you begin, you might be surprised to learn your child may already “know” some of the letters with some of the sounds. Make an inventory sheet of the letters – upper & lowercase, as well as their corresponding sounds. Then, make a game of it. You might want to break this sequence into a few sessions, depending on your child’s attention.

  • Mix up the uppercase letters.
  • Have your child choose 10 (one for each finger), counting as you go.
  • Lay them out on a flat surface.
  • You can, also, use magnetic ones & put them on the fridge or a dry-erase board.
  • Put the ones s/he knows in a pile.
  • Mark them on your inventory sheet & discard the unknowns.
  • If you don’t want to record them on the sheet at that time (it can be distracting for some children), write them on sticky notes (one for you & one for her/him).
  • Lay the known ones on a surface.
  • Select the matching lowercase ones in view.
  • Ask him/her to put the big & little letters together.
  • If time allows. you can go to the “sounds” inventory; if not, do it at another time.
  • Now pull the known letters (all uppercase ones included).
  • Review & ask what sound does each one make.
  •  These results can be a starting point.

A Few More Strategies to Use for Teaching the Alphabet

You can use some of the following as prompters for letter and sound recognition:

  • pictures from books,magazines. etc.
  •  toys
  • things around the house
  • things in Nature
  • things during road trips & errands
  •   your child’s name
  • a sibling’s name
  • a pet’s name
  • Mommy, Daddy, Grandma/pa, etc. can be useful, too.

Now, onto the Sequence Suggestions. They aren’t in any order of preference, although I will offer my opinion at the end…..

TEACHING THE ABCs : A Sequence Guide One

Becky, a classroom teacher, reading tutor & parent, produces a wonderful Literacy site-This Reading Mama-filled with tips, strategies & resources.

She offers this sequence of advice:

  • Teach the letter with its sound.
  • Teach 2-3 a week.
  • Make sure the letters look & sound differently from each other.
  • Teach uppercase letters first, especially for young learners.

Click on the link below to visit her website:


TEACHING THE ABCs : A Sequence Guide Two

Dr. Margaret Early’s reading curriculum for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich has a beginning reading program focusing on small groups of common beginning consonant sounds and, then,  adding short vowels sounds to make commonly-heard words with a few beginning sight words for simple sentence structures. Her instruction utilizes upper & lowercase letters together.

Here is her sequence:

  • Mm   Pp   Cc   add: I (as a pronoun) & can with word family an
  • Rr   Ss   Tt   add: run/ word family un 
  • Review all letters & words/sentences.
  • Add word family en & the with and.
  • Nn   Yy   add: no & yes
  • Bb   Ll   add: in & out
  • Review all letters, sounds & words/sentences.
  • Add word family ug.
  • Gg add: go
  • Hh   Ff   add: come & word family it
  • Dd   Ww   add: dog with will & word family ig
  • Review all letters & vocabulary in sentences.
  • Jj   Kk   Vv   Zz add: not & you
  • Review all letters, sounds, & use vocabulary to construct simple asking & telling sentences.
  • Work on word families: an, at, en, et, ig, it, ot, op, ug, ut

TEACHING THE ABCs : A Sequence Guide Three

Sarah, an educator & parent, @ HowWeeLearn promotes using an alphabet letter sequence groups with word families included in each group.

Here are the sets:

  • s   a   t   i   p   n  word families: at, ap, an, it, ip, in
  • c   k   e   h   r   word families: ack, eck, ick, et, en
  • m   d   g   o   word families: od, og, am, im, em, ad, id, ed, ag, ig, eg
  • l   f   b   q   u   word families: ub, us, ut, up, un, uck, um, ud, ug, ab, ib, ob & qu
  • j   z   w   word families: aw, ew, ow
  • v   y   x   word families: ay, oy, ax, ex, ix, ox

TEACHING THE ABCs : A Sequence Guide Four

Angela Thayer, an educator & parent @ TeachingMama teaches the alphabet in groups with a nod to the  Montessori Method. Here’s her take, using beginning consonants with one vowel in each of the letter sets:

  • t   m   c   a
  • s   r   i   p
  • b   f   o   g
  • h   j   u   l
  • d   w   e   n
  • k   q   v
  • x   y   z

TEACHING THE ABCs : A Sequence Guide Five

Renee, a veteran Kindergarten educator & blog contributor to SchoolSparks has these 3 strategies:

  • Introduce the easy, speaking letters first- the sounds produced in the front of the mouth- b   m   f   d   s   p   v   t   l   z   n   w   j
  • Next, present the sounds verbalized in the back of the mouth- k   h   c   g   y   r
  • Young ears may not be ready for the complex letters- a   o   i   u   e   q   x – until 5 or 6 years old
  • Don’t try to teach similar letters at the same time, like b & p
  • Be aware of the complex sounds of these letters – a   e    i   o   u   have long & short sounds; g   s   c   have soft & hard sounds; q is 2 sounds/ kw; and y has 3 sounds- long e, long i & yuh

TEACHING THE ABCs : A Few Other Thoughts

Let your child be your guide to the learning s/he needs.

Capitalize on his/her enthusiasm.

Make it fun, not a chore, or “have-to”, but try to fit some Literacy play into your every day activities.

Games are a sure way to synchronize work with play. Change it up.

Word Families are a great way to play with language. Encourage word inventions. Make a dictionary of “new” words with their definitions.

Put the “work” into a notebook collection – I Know My Letters & Sounds Book.

There are numerous websites with great, hands-on learning ideas for teaching your young child the alphabet. Click on my Resource Library link below for a list of some fun ones.


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