When and HOW do Kids learn Letters & Numbers?

I get this question all the time, WHEN should my child know their letters/sounds & numbers Well, this is a tricky question! First of all, deep breaths. EVERY CHILD LEARNS AT DIFFERENT TIMES. Sorry, I’m not yelling, but I’m kind of yelling. I don’t want you to start getting nervous if your child is not doing this stuff yet. Everyone learns at a different rate!

So, when do kids learn letters, sounds and numbers? 

Here’s the thing. It’s always great practice to work on letters/sounds & numbers with kids early on. Kids may start to recognize numbers and letters from a young age (as early as Nursery) and some kids may not (until Kindergarten). Please don’t stress. When kids start Kindergarten, they start to connect the dots between letters, sounds and numbers.

HOW do kids learn letters, sounds and numbers? 

The short answer is many ways! I’m going to take you through some incredibly effective activities that I use with my students to get them going. I LOVE incorporating hands-on activities to spark and support this learning. I personally learn more when I am physically involved, and lots of kids are similar. Are you also a kinaesthetic (hands-on) learner?

Letter Tracing! This is part of my Letter of the Week Bundle. Grab these weekly traceable letters and traceable letter worksheets in the bundle HERE

Learning our Letters through Letter Tracing

Teaching letters, sounds and printing requires repetition, so it is important to incorporate various FUN ways that kids will want to practice. Tactile activities like letter tracing check that box and more! Some kids benefit from the practice because they need to strengthen those tiny hand muscles (fine motor skills). Others (the kinaesthetic learners) benefit from the tactile feedback they get from tracing letters on various materials such as rice, pasta, shaving cream, painting. (*Painting on an easel is a great way to also strengthen gross motor skills!)

Number Recognition! A simple activity you can do with crafts that you have around the house

number sense kindergarten

This activity is a fun one! Definitely a challenge to coordinate in a big classroom with lots of kids, but it’s DEFINITELY doable! Together with my son, we counted each popsicle stick and put the numbers on. Then we counted different materials and placed them on each popsicle stick! THAT’S IT! Now I re-use these popsicle sticks every time we do number matching and all the other number activities.

Here are the materials that you need!

  • 10 popsicle sticks
  • Different materials for each popsicle stick
  • Glue gun – That’s it!
Grab these Kindergarten Alphabet Worksheets HERE

Alphabet Worksheets: Dot the letters + sounds!

This is one of my students/kids FAVOURITE activities! I only use this letter sound activity after we’ve learned the letter sounds, for both upper and lowercase letters. Kids can also colour in the pictures if they would prefer that! It’s also such a fun one because kids love using Bingo dabbers!

Alphabet worksheets that help kids sort and solidify their knowledge of sounds. Click HERE to grab these!

letter sounds

Letters and sounds are one. We cannot teach letters without their sounds. Often, I don’t even teach the letter name, I stick to the sound first. For example, I would say “Today we are learning the sound ‘nnnn’. What are some words that start with that sound?”. It’s tricky sometimes for kids to relay that information to their parents, because we’re so used to asking “What letters do you know?”. Let’s flip that to- “What sounds do you know?”. This activity is helps with sorting the sounds while also working on their fine motor skills. For kids who might be frustrated and/or aren’t ready yet for scissors, it’s perfectly fine to cut the pictures out for them first and then have them sort and glue the pictures on the alphabet worksheets!

Playdough Number mats are a great way to practice number sense and a fun way to create a number 1-20. Click HERE to grab these!

Play Dough Number Mats: Number sense

Back to our numbers for a minute and hands-on learning. Okay, kids LOVE THIS ACTIVITY! This activity comes in colour printed so you can print these mats out for kids to play around with play dough. They also come in black/white. I love using these in the classroom and at home to have kids work together to make a number wall. It’s so important to give multiples avenues for kids to practice their number sense. Number sense is the understanding of how numbers relate to each other. Practicing multiple ways of creating the number seven, for example, is a great way to learn their number sense.

Letter & Sound Recognition

Last but not least, this is one my FAVOURITE, easy, and LOW-PREP activities that helps kids really start to differentiate between numbers and letters. I like to say- letters make sounds (and sounds make words). We use numbers to count, make patters, and so much more!


So to finish off, kids can learn letters, sounds and numbers as early as nursery and as late as kindergarten. HOWEVER, they can learn this stuff in so many amazingly different ways that it is on us to find the most FUN, engaging, and supportive activities that access their different and unique intelligences to get them involved in this learning when the time is right. Let’s focus on the process and finding the right activities for each child to see them get excited about learning.

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