The alphabet must be strategically taught with purposeful, thorough planning.
Young children need to know alphabet letters and sounds; in fact, knowledge of the Alphabetic Principal is crucial for a young child to become a successful reader. The Alphabetic Principal is simply the idea that a letter or groups of letters represent a spoken sound. Once young children understand the letters and their predictable sound(s), they are able to apply that knowledge to the decoding of words.
The best way to teach the alphabet is to teach letters (upper & lowercase) and sounds together, but have the emphasis of accountability on the uppercase letter. I like to introduce my letter using my focus wall above. I introduce everything I can about the letter including the name, the sound, mouth positioning using Lindamood LIPS picture cards (I know there are cards available on TPT). I like to use the signing cards from signingtime.com, but there are many free cards available if you google it!
I use the pocket chart that is made by Really Good Stuff that is available on Amazon for $29. (I actually bought 2 sets so that I could keep all of my letters in a bag as this set copies A-M on one side of the card and N-Z on the other. This drove me crazy because I am an organized filer that wants everything ready to go.
One of the resources that I could live without is the alphabet tubs from Lakeshore (also available on Amazon. I use these tubs not only with my focus wall, but with many beginning sound games. I know they are a little pricey, but I started by trying to find my own objects at dollar stores and more and it was adding up really fast so I decided to use some of my budget and just bite the bullet. I do not regret it, because I have now had them for 20 years and they still look as good as new!
The sticks of course are from Handwriting Without Tears, The little letter books are from Rigby Books, and Hameray Publishing. The Alphabet Zoo program is mine that I have used for 25 years. It has evolved throughout the years and I now own a beanie for each letter (thanks to ebay). The letter chart above the focus chart is how I practice the letters and sounds before the new letter introduction. Now, I am doing and A-Z uppercase anchor and so the letters are in order. When I begin my letter focus weeks, I will turn the letters to lowercase and place them in the introduced order. That way, the letters will be ready for me to arrange as we learn to decode words.
Our podcast, The Alphabetic Principal offers more insights on how I use my focus wall to teach the alphabet.
In the podcast I speak of some great books that talk about the Alphabetic Principal, the anchor of uppercase letters, and suggestions of how to set a solid foundation with your students for future reading success.
This book is the one that was developed by the government to end the so-called "Reading Wars" of the '90s. The other one is the Consortium on Reading or CORE. The older version (the much cheaper one) is the one I love! Actually I have not looked at the updated version.
All of thematic units contain great alphabet games. Here are a few products, specific to alphabet that you will enjoy. The Falling Leaves Game is FREE!