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Learning Alphabet Sounds and Shapes with Letterland

The friendly Letterland characters help children to easily understand the sound and shape of letters – one of the key skills needed when learning to read and write. Simple stories about the Letterland characters explain letter sounds and shapes, so that confusion over similar looking letters is avoided and children are motivated to listen, think and learn.

Read on to find out more about teaching your little learners about alphabet names, alphabet shapes and letter formation (and some useful resources that might help).


Alphabet Names

Teaching alphabet names aee, bee, cee etc. used to be the traditional starting point for learning a-z, but their names are not the same as letter sounds. You will find that schools now start by teaching letter sounds first, not names, because the traditional letter names can be misleading. No less than 14 of them actually begin with another letter’s sound! They are f, l, m, n, s, and x which all start with an eh sound, and c(see), g(jee), h(aitch), q(cue), r(are), u(you), w(double-you) and y(why).


Alphabet Sounds

Current good practice means that children learn the letters of the alphabet in a much more ‘natural’ way, leaving alphabet name learning until they have a very clear understanding of the sounds that letters make, pronouncing each one exactly the way it sounds within regular words. This includes learning to just whisper the quiet sounds, such as c…, fff, hhh, k…, p…, sss, t… and x…(ks).


Letter Formation

Most children start to enjoy making marks on paper and scribbling from the age of 2, 3 or 4 and like to pretend to ‘write’. Soon they will want to write their name. This is the best time to make sure they form the letters correctly. Getting the strokes right from the start is more valuable than it may first seem. Little children often develop poor hand habits, holding their pen or pencil awkwardly and, for example, making an s from the bottom up, writing e’s, f’s, g’s and j’s backwards and confusing b’s and d’s and p’s and q’s).

These awkward early hand grips and letter formation habits can be surprisingly hard to change. Unless caught early they can make it unnecessarily difficult to get rid of cramped writing, wrong letter formation, and letters written backwards. Later on, this can cause difficulty in learning joined-up writing. So, starting with the right hand grip and correct sequence of strokes can save many future frustrations.


Featured Products

If your child needs some help with learning alphabet sounds and shapes (or you just want to get ahead of the game), we have a number of resources that will help. Read on to check out our top three!

Children think of using the Letterland ABC book as simple fun, but with your help, they’ll be learning important first reading, speaking and listening skills.

Start by looking for all the objects that start with the same sound as the featured Letterlander and play with the letter sounds. Decide what the Letterlanders would like to eat, drink or do.

For example, Clever Cat would prefer carrot cake. Have fun talking about where the objects are and let your child decide what might happen next. Listen carefully as your child points out all the objects that start with the featured sounds, and tells you what is going on in each picture. Have fun checking the Word List at the back of the book to see if all of the objects have been spotted!


This activity book is divided into two sections - Shape and Sound. The first section of this book (pages 4-35) focuses on ‘shape’ and is a gentle introduction to reading and writing. When your child starts to take an interest in making marks that is the right time to introduce this book.

Children move from practicing basic pencil control through to forming complete letter shapes. Activities include tracing over lines with fingers, tracing curved, straight and zigzag lines to complete the simple letter-themed scenes on a trip to the funfair!

There are also activities to encourage your child to look carefully at picture details and spot small differences, important skills your child will need to master the 56 letter shapes on the way to learning to read.


This pack of double-sided flashcards features the alphabet in both lowercase and uppercase letters, Aa-Zz. It also includes cards for both the long and short vowel sounds. Use the Picture Coded side to introduce the characters and the sound each Letterlander makes. Use the picture side for practising the character names and the plain sides for practice in saying the letter sound. Use either side for building words.


Other Letterland products that help teach alphabet sounds and shapes:


We hope you found this article useful. If you'd like to use Letterland to help teach your little learners about alphabet sounds and shapes, head over the our website to grab all these brilliant resources.


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