Learning letter sounds is one of the first steps to reading.

How to Introduce Alphabet Sounds to Preschoolers

by Carly Seifert

Before your child can learn to read, he'll need to learn his letters and the sounds attached to them. Though the thought of teaching 26 sounds to your squirmy three- year-old might make you consider hiring a private tutor, the Montessori method of teaching letter sounds is something you can easily and effectively do with your child at home. By incorporating a tactile alphabet with a simple, step-by-step process, your preschooler will learn pre-reading (and pre-writing) skills in no time.

First Session: "This Is"

Introduce a sandpaper letter to your child by tracing your finger over the letter as you say the sound. For example, if you are introducing the letter "m" trace over the letter with your index finger as you say "mmmmm". Only refer to the letter as "mmmm" during the exercise.

Help your child trace his finger over the letter as he says the sound with you.

Put away this letter card and introduce a new letter card. Introduce three to four letter cards per session in this way.

Second Session: "Show Me"

Lay down the three or four cards you introduced in your first practice session. Ask your child to hand you one of the cards by using the sound -- "Please hand me the 'mmmm' card."

Let your child trace his index finger over the card as he says the sound just as in the first practice session.

Review all the cards from your first session in this manner.

Third Third Session: "What Sound Is This?"

Hold up cards one by one and ask your child to tell you the sound the letter makes.

Let your child trace the letter as he repeats the sound.

Once your child has mastered the three to four cards from the first session, begin introducing two to three new cards at a time in session one and blending all the cards learned together during sessions two and three.

Items you will need

  • sandpaper alphabet letters


  • You don't need to introduce letter sounds in alphabetical order -- consider introducing the letters of your tot's name first or consonants that are used often at the beginning of words.
  • Use lower case alphabet cards since lower case letters will make up the majority of words when children learn to read.

About the Author

Carly Seifert has been a piano instructor since 2001. She has also covered adoption and introducing children to the arts for "Montana Parent Magazine." Seifert graduated from University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in drama.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images