Sometimes I absolutely marvel at the fact that kids ever learn to read. This is especially true for learning to read in English, with all of its funky spelling rules and numerous exceptions. (Sometimes I wish we all spoke Spanish, which is a MUCH easier language to learn to read!) But somehow, year after year, kids learn to read. And research shows that kids who know their letters and the sounds they make have a much easier time learning to read.
Fortunately, it is possible – and often quite simple – to teach children their letters through play and other fun interactions. Exposing kids to the forms of the letters, playing with the sounds letters make, and encouraging kids to form letters are all great ways of teaching the alphabet.
Below I have complied a list of 11 of the best gifts for teaching letters. This list includes gift ideas for babies as young as one all the way up to kids in early elementary school.
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden ABC & 123 Blocks Set: Babies and toddlers love playing with blocks. You can begin introducing your children to letters (and numbers) with this set of ABC & 123 blocks from Melissa & Doug. Simply saying things such as “I see you are holding the ‘G’ block” or “Can you give me the block with the ‘S’ on it?” helps children build their letter knowledge.
Foam Magnet Letters: Magnetic letters are such a classic children’s toy. If your fridge has a magnetic surface, magnetic letters can be an awesome way to keep the kids entertained while a parent gets a meal ready in the kitchen. Young kids enjoy moving the letters around on a magnetic surface, while older kids will have fun spelling words. This set includes both uppercase and lowercase letters, and come in a plastic bucket with lid that can be used for storage.
Melissa & Doug Alphabet Express Floor Puzzle: If you’ve got a train lover, this puzzle is a great way to teach letters while supporting your child’s love for trains. The completed puzzle measures 10 feet long, and each piece features a train car with a letter plus a picture that corresponds to the letter sound (e.g., alligator for ‘A’).
A to Z Lower Case Crepe Rubber Puzzle: We own the lowercase crepe rubber puzzle from Lauri, and they offer an uppercase letter puzzle version as well. The puzzles may not be appropriate for kids who still put things in their mouth, as the center of some of the letters pops out and could be a choking hazard. But older kids will enjoy the fun texture of the crepe rubber. I also love the pictures in the background that become visible when kids remove a letter, because this helps reinforce the sounds the letters make. I also love that Lauri promises to replace any missing pieces, meaning your puzzle will always be complete. (See my post sharing a fun letter hunt sensory bin activity I created using our lowercase puzzle.)
Hape Lowercase Alphabet Stand Up Puzzle: If your kids are too young to safely use the crepe rubber puzzle by Lauri due to the small pieces it contains, this wooden alphabet stand up puzzle from Hape would be an amazing choice as well. The chunky pieces are easy for little fingers to grab. Kids love putting the pieces back into their proper spaces. And the pieces even stand up! Plus, all Hape toys are made with non-toxic and child-safe materials.
Wikki Stix Alphabet Fun Cards for Learning: This set of Wikki Stix alphabet cards had been one of my go to tools for teaching letters to my kids. Building letters with Wikki Stix and the alphabet cards included in this set is one of their favorite letter practice activities because Wikki Stix are just so fun to use. (Plus when your kids aren’t using the Wikki Stix to make letters they can use them to create other fun things.) Wikki Stix never dry out and are easy to clean.
eeBoo Alphabet & Numbers Jumbo Puzzle Pairs: This is a great puzzle that teaches kids to match letters to pictures based on letter sounds. Each letter only matches with one picture card, so the puzzle is self-correcting.
Alphabet Bingo Games: Kids love Bingo, so why not teach them letters by playing Bingo? This Alphabet Bingo set would be the perfect gift to teach letters through games!
Educational Insights See And Stamp Jumbo Lowercase Alphabet Stamps: Stamps are always such fun to play with. We own the Educational Insights Lowercase Alphabet Stamps, which we like. But if I was looking to buy a new set, I would get the Jumbo Lowercase Alphabet Stamps or the Jumbo Uppercase Alphabet Stamps, in part due to their larger size (each stamp is 1″ tall), which makes them easy for preschoolers to use. I also love the see-through design, so kids always know what they are stamping (and don’t get confused by turning the stamp over and seeing the letter written backwards).
Learning Resources Letter Construction Activity Set: These are a super cute tool for children who are learning to write their letters who also enjoy constructing things. With these translucent plastic shapes, kids can construct every letter of the alphabet. This set is really great for helping kids focus on the shapes of the letters, such a which ones have curvy lines and which ones have straight lines.
Crayola Dry Erase Activity Center: We use our Crayola Dry Erase Activity Centers all the time for a variety of activities, but they are particularly well suited for a child learning his or her letters. The Dry Erase Activity Center comes with markers designed for its special erasable surface. Kids can practice writing their letters and easily erase any mistakes they have made. Use the special letter writing inserts that come with the Dry Erase Activity Center or insert your own practice worksheets.
Have questions about teaching the alphabet? We’ve got answers! Click here to learn more.
Looking for more great gift ideas? Check out my other gift guides:
- Best gifts for kids who love science
- Best gifts for kids who love to build
- Best gifts for developing kids’ fine motor skills
- Best gifts for active kids
- Best gifts for kids who love arts & crafts
- Best gifts for encouraging sensory play
- Best gifts for developing math concepts
- Best gifts for teaching shapes
- Best gifts for kids who love LEGO