Identification of Letters and Numerals

How to Support Your Child’s Identification of Letters and Numerals

How To Support Your Child's Identification of Letters and Numerals


To assist young children’s development in moving from scribble to the use of letters and numerals in their attempts at writing and beginning to recognise letters and numerals as they read or have stories read to them.

The following resources can be used in the home and outdoor environment to help them learn how to identify and form letters and numerals and to begin writing their names and attempts at known words.

  • sandpit or sand tray in which children can practise forming the letters and numerals with their finger or an implement such the end of a wooden spoon or a stick
  • playdough (either commercially purchased or homemade), which can be rolled out into thin sausage shapes and then formed into letters and numerals

A range of playdough recipes can be found on the KidSpot website at 

  • shaving cream – children squeeze the tube to form the letters or numerals ( a more expensive activity but one that could be done now and again)
  • wool, string and glue – children form the letters or numerals using a glue stick or softer glue and a paint brush, then place the wool or string on the glue
  • wax candles and paint – children form the letters or numerals with a candle then paint over them with water colour paint and the letters and numerals are revealed as silhouettes, like magic
  • glue, seeds and glitter – children form the letters using a glue stick or glue and a paintbrush, then sprinkle seeds or glitter on the glue
  • stepping stones – create an pathway of the alphabet or numbers in the garden with stepping stones
  • chalk and concrete – children practise forming the letters and numerals with chalk on concrete – these can be easily hosed off and the area used again and again
  • commercially purchased magnetic letters (eg Duplo, Lego letters) that can be manipulated on a metal surface eg a metal easel, the refrigerator door, or biscuit or scone trays
  • alphabet blocks – useful for saying the names of the letters and arranging them to spell their name or first words
  • boxes, egg cartons or muffin tins for letter sorting activities
  • alphabet book / pictures in Snaplock bags – purchase a large scrapbook and devote a double page to each letter of the alphabet. Children and parents cut out pictures from magazines, newspapers etc and take photographs of things that interest the children. These pictures and photographs are then glued into the scrapbook according to the first letter of the name of each object and the words written under them to create a picture dictionary. Pictures can be stored in Snaplock plastic bags, each labelled with a letter of the alphabet, until they are glued into the scrapbook.
  • a variety of pens, pencils, crayons and textas and paper on which to practise writing
  • play find the letter (or number) while reading a story – After reading a story to your child go back through the book and ask, “Can you find an ‘a’?”, “Can you find the letter that is the same as the one at the start of your name?”, Point to a letter and ask “What is that letter called?”, and so on
  • recognising letters when you are out and about with your children by looking for them on advertising signs, shop windows, business signs, car number plates etc

Some Activities to help your child with Forming Letters


Join Our Parents Newsletter and get our Free Report – ‘Practical Strategies for Parents When Helping Their Children with Language and Literacy’

* indicates required

Shirley Fuller PSM

Shirley Fuller is passionate about improving the learning outcomes of students from preschool to Year 12 and beyond. Her experience includes secondary mathematics, science and physical education teaching, primary teaching in all subjects, librarianship and resource centre coordination, tutoring students in mathematics at secondary level and in preparation for some university courses.

She holds a Public Service Medal for her contributions to education.

Shirley has written a comprehensive Guide for Parents to help support children’s literacy in the home and social environment.

Previous article How To Help Your Child Write a Story

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields