Any Fun & New Ideas to Help Kindergarten Students Learn Letters & Numbers?

Updated on September 26, 2012
J.M. asks from Orange Park, FL
14 answers

I'm volunteering in kindergarten class & some of the students do not recognize their letters or numbers. Some of these children need to be in special classes, but due to parent refusal & other red tape, they have been put in regular classes. One child I was helping today knows how to spell his name ( which is 4 letters) but could only identify 2 other letters of the alphabet. I want so much to help these children succeed. Any creative ideas? Thank You!!

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answers from Seattle on

The way my son learned was to sing, sing, sing! We sang his alphabet all day long. Same with numbers, etc.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Honolulu on

No matter what, the Teacher has to take the lead in this.
What does the Teacher, think or say?
Also, does the school have a Pre-K or Jr.K class?
Have these kids gone to preschool or not?

Most schools, test or assess the entering Kindergarten children, PRIOR to being placed, or not, in Kindergarten.
And the Teachers, know, how the children tested.

Being you are not on school "staff" formally, and are a Volunteer, anything you do, needs to have Teacher authorization.
Each school, per each grade level, has its curriculum and what is taught in Kindergarten.
AND, many public schools, have a reading Tutor, which is free, to help those children that need extra help with letters/reading. It is done in groups. I know, because my son while in Kindergarten, got to be in this class. It was great. It was free, and the on staff Reading Tutor for the school, was wonderful and was a professional reading Tutor.
So, see if your school that you Volunteer for, has one. BUT it is the TEACHER... who recommends which child is suitable to enroll in this supplemental class.

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answers from San Francisco on

Not all children come into kindergarten knowing all their letters and numbers. Some parents don't bother teaching them, and some kids are just a little slower to develop than others, it doesn't mean they need to be in special classes.
The teacher is your best resource as she is specifically trained to teach at this grade level, ask her what you can do to best support her daily lessons. You can also suggest activities from pinterest, if you're on that site.
On a personal note, my kids learned their letters and numbers naturally, I never "taught" them. We read lots of ABC and counting books, did finger plays and sang songs, and of course they absorbed it in their daily life, lots of counting, and learning to recognize symbols and signs.
Oh, and LOTS of Sesame Street! I never went to preschool and my mom never even read to me but I went to kindergarten not only knowing my letters and numbers, but also knowing how letters worked together to make sounds and how to do basic math.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Don't try to invent something new. Work with the teacher! Utilizing existing materials, books, worksheets, and techniques are the keys to effective teaching.

There should be signs all over the classroom on different objects, or the kids' names on cubbies, etc. See if the child can find the letters of his name in other signs. Then introduce one new letter and try have him find it elsewhere. You might try choosing a letter similar to one in his name - for example, P and R and B are very similar, O and Q, T and I.

Just so you know, they aren't SUPPOSED to know their numbers and letters in September! That's what kindergarten is for! They should be using this time to learn to sit in a circle, follow directions, interact with a group, and negotiate their own space without slugging someone. The learning comes over the course of the year.

And children learn very well when mainstreamed in regular classes. They don't necessarily need special classes just because they weren't drilled in preschool to learn their letters. Many of these children didn't have the opportunity or requirement to learn letters, and many have developed skills in other areas that the "literate" kids do not yet have. So don't look down on them or on parents who don't feel their kids should be segregated - maybe they shouldn't. Kids learn different things at different rates. The kids you are working with may be the most creative, social adjusted, free-thinking students in the class. Work with the teacher to learn how to identify and appreciate the skills and abilities that they have, and understand that many children (and adults) learn differently than others. That doesn't make them "special needs" or less able.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Use balloons. Blow some up and write a letter on them with a thick marker. Tell him to find the balloon with whatever letters or sounds you give him. I guess it can work with numbers too. And then he can toss it around until it time to find the next letter.

Try to find a connect the dots workbook for preschool level. They can "draw" a picture as well as learn number or letter order. As they get better with letter recognition, have them sound out the letter as they connect each dot.

They will get there with time. My son, who learned his letters and number in preschool, was in a K class with kids who didn't even know how to hold a pencil, much less spell their names or know their letters, sounds and numbers. But with love and patience and guidance, by the end of the year, those kids were recognizing their letters like pros!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

Only pick 1 or 2 letters at a time to focus on. Add them to the ones they already know gradually.

*dry erase write the letter, they write the letter, they get a sticker. Make it a game.......the more excited you are the more they will be excited. If they think they are pulling one over on you, they get tickled.

*shaving cream on a make the letter, say the letter, they write and say

*get a highlighter and the child how to find and highlight one or two specific letters.....keep in mind the font! this 'a' is harder to identify than the ball and stick ''a"

*play flashcard relay.....fix the cards so that the child is successful more than they are not. 3 letters in their name and then the new one, followed by 3 letters they know. It builds confidence and excitement.

*go on a scavenger hunt looking for the letters they are focusing on..."how many e's can you find in this poster?" "Who in the class has the letter "j" in their name?" Have them look at the birthday chart or name plates.

*Use the alphabet chart on the wall to talk about certain letters and animals. k is for kangaroo. When they get stuck trying to write a letter and they know they need a k, they know to look for the kangaroo for help. It is important to use the pictures on the THAT chart for now.

*kids who do not understand this very abstract idea, need to have a way to make it concrete. Explain that the letter is just a symbol for a sound so we have a way to write what it is we also say. Sometimes kids don't know seems elementary, but sometimes the child hasn't been told or wasn't developmentally ready to understand it when it was presented.

*Use hands-on things to make the letters.....macaroni noodles glued onto a traced letter, pipe cleaners, twizzlers (that they get to eat as they complete so many letters, string glued to the letter shape.....something that makes them think about the letter while they DO something with it.

*Some kids need to trace the letter with their finger....make sure you are having them trace it the way it is supposed to be actually written...the teacher should have a chart that shows the proper way.

*Have the kids make their bodies make the letter.....add another kid or two to the mix to make a get the idea. :)

Bless you for helping!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Magnetic letters, puzzle letters and start spelling other things the children find interesting. One day it could be animals, one day it could be colors...etc. Not all little ones come prepared with their alphabet, so be patient and have fun. You have fun, they have fun, and don't look at it as a chore. Good Luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Yes, you should work with the teacher, but offer her ideas, too, if she's looking for them. Kindergarten means different things in different districts, so you should also find out what the school expects from an incoming K.

My DD likes the LeapFrog letter magnets. You put them in the sunshine thing and it sings. Really annoying over and over, but it helps with letters and phonics. also has free stuff for kids. The school could buy a subscription if they wanted more. My SIL uses this with children with special needs.

I would also encourage them while reading books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New Orleans on

My 5 year old is in kindergarten and her teacher use this website above to help her students. She has it hook up on the computer but had a white overhead projecter thing connected so they can see and hear it. My children the last few days been getting on the computer and playing on the website learning there letters and other things that the site has to offer. Hope this helps! :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

make a fishing game where you tie a strong magnet on a string and they "fish" for letters or number cards with a paper clip on it to attract the magnet

fill a ziploc with a bit of hair gel and they can write their numbers that way.

a matching game of letters and sound pictures.

use bingo daubers to make a number book write the numbesr in order one to a page and the kid adds taht many dots with the bingo dauber.

Tell them to toss teh bean bag on the paper with the number 3 ( or letter etc)

Hap Palmer has a cute walking around the alphabet song. and so does Dr Jean you might be able to look them up on youtube.

read a short book each sessioin and count to 10 ( or 20 each session)

Some of these answers broke my heart, If a child is 5 and no one has exposed them to books or numbers, I"m not talking about drilling them with flashcards, but just cuddling and reading a story, well that is really really sad.
Glad you are all off developing your creativity running around the streats, but it feels like neglect to me that a child that age would have no concept of the letters in his name and not have any idea that there is a number that comes after 3. have you never had candles on your birthday cake? Taking different cultures aside, and the fact that some people just struggle to survive, still makes me very very sad.

And if it isn't neglect then it seems like a learning disorder and those are so very very prevelant in todays classrooms.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

You've seen how it starts-- with the letters in their names, that means something to them. Now they can learn the first letters in their friends or siblings names. Pick a short name of a good friend or sibling or maybe the child is more motivated to learn to spell Mom!! Find out what motivates each child, some learn thru songs, some through action-tracing and writing, some thru listening to books and "reading along"
Youtube has lots of cute free Alphabet videos which are fun. Use shaving cream to "write" letters and numbers-very fun and easy to clean up. play doh, sand all fun, Make the letter M out of macaroni and glue, R with rice, G with glitter etc etc Let them learn one letter at a time or two a week. and teach them the sound the letter makes at the same time. More important to know the sound W makes and associate window or Wesley with it than to know the name of the letter. Have fun with it, find each child's strenghts and you'll be surprised how fast they can learn!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Fun? I don't know about fun, especially if the student isn't interested. My best suggestion is to divide your time up with them and if possible give each child x amount of 1 on 1 time. Build a relationship with each child by remembering their name and a little something about them. A baby brother, dog, pet snake or whatever. Make an index file and start each session by letting them know you remember who they are.

Last year in kindergarten, the art teacher was my daughter's favorite. I knew so much about a lady I never met before. She has retired, but I don't think she had any problem getting any child's cooperation.

I have a very unfavorable job, working with the public. Each call or email I make, I start by saying, "Hi, how are you?". I can usually get them to share with me what I need to know to do my job. Last quarter I had 100% cooperation.

That's all I've got.

Best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I volunteer in the classroom and I usually work with groups of students. Sometimes it's the kids who are having a hard time but the teacher goes through exactly what I need to do (sounds out words, let them tell me what the letter is...). If the teacher just says, "They need to practice letters and numbers", I'd ask if there is special way they learn in class so you can reinforce that style rather than present something new to them.
Our kinder sing alot and use word association with body movements (S says ssssssss, snake, sssss... and they move their arms like a snake or "Make an S and close the gate, this is how you make an 8"). And you can never go wrong with letter cards.

None of my kids knew their letters or numbers entering kinder since I focused more on just talking to them and letting them do art and life experiences. All of them score Advanced on their testing and are in the GATE program. Of course English is not their second language so that may be an impediment at home for kids where English is their second laguage.

Just helping the teacher out is great but try to keep with the same class style as it may confuse the kids if you go off teaching another way. For my college students I always try to approach answers in different ways but for kids just learning English, it's too much. I see it in my international students, they just get confused when I try to explain in too many ways.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Read to them as much as possible and this will really help! Make big letters on construction paper and tape them to the floor (like the foam mats but a lot cheaper) and play games where the kids move from one letter to another (can also do this with chalk outside).

Check out a couple of my Discovery Toys:

The Sounds Like Learning CD has songs that will teach letters and their sounds, numbers, and much more. It comes with the lyrics and even a chart that shows the letters and a picture to go with them (for example, it will sing Apple Apple A-A-A and have the letter written in upper and lowercase with a picture of an apple). Hard to describe, but you can see it here:

Memo Spell is a fun memory style game where they spell out simple words. When they are just learning, you can keep the cards face up and make an easy matching game (words like hat, six, bed, etc are a simple way to start).

1 mom found this helpful
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