The Power of Tracing the Alphabet


Guest Post by Kristen of Busy Kids = Happy Mom 


Hello I Can Teach My Child friends! I’m excited to share a technique I’m using with some of the little people I’m working with this year… we’re Tracing the Alphabet. I’m sharing Part I of tracing the Alphabet here and Part II on my site, Busy Kids = Happy Mom.



The tactile experience (touching the letter with your finger) is important for building a memory trace.



In her book The Next Step in Guided Reading, Jan Richardson, shares how important it is to trace the alphabet. After 10 years of research, she was able to conclude that tracing is the fastest and easiest way for children to learn their letters. While individual rates of learning varied, a child who begins the tracing process knowing fewer than 5 letters took three months of tracing to learn them all!


Tracing Procedure Goal: 

To teach the name of each letter and create a picture link for the letter sound. For a child who is behind, the sooner they learn the names of letters, the sooner they can participate in classroom instruction.


How often?

Every day for maximum success! I’m always surprised that students don’t mind doing this with me. We do try to get moving with a little “alphabet exercise” beforehand by jumping and singing the alphabet.



Directions for Tracing the Alphabet:

1. Identify your child’s “Reader Finger”. Make sure they are using their dominant hand (the one they write with). Do not let them switch fingers as they read.


2. Demonstrate:  Starting at the top of the letter, the child uses his or her Reader Finger to trace each upper and lowercase letter in the ABC book. Say the name of each letter as it is traced, then point to and name the picture. Tip:  If they need help doing it independently, you can gently guide their hand.


3. If your child does not know the name of the picture or letter, say it and have them repeat it.


4. If your child is having difficulty forming the letters, you can help them by guiding his or her hand.



Looking for something to use for tracing?


Why not make a “Who Am I?” book with your child. Bonus:  Your child loves working with his favorite people… his family!


How to make a Who Am I? book, click here.




Thanks for letting me stop by! Click here to read Part II of this post, which contains links to tracing cards and other material you can use with your children to trace the alphabet.


Kristen is a Reading Specialist who currently works with children in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. She is the blogger behind Busy Kids = Happy Mom, a site dedicated to fun, practical, and purposeful activities to do with your kids. Follow Kristen on FacebookPinterest, and Busy Kids = Happy Mom.





  1. Alphabet tracing is amazing!! I never would have thought something so simple would have such an impact on learning the alphabet but it has. My son has a speech delay so saying the letters is a little difficult but he can identify and show you how its suppose to be written because we finger trace them. I strongly encourage everyone to give this a try.

  2. I have a 2 1/2 year old. Would alphabet tracing for appropriate for him? Or do you think he is too young? I really struggling with knowing what cognitive activities for appropriate for specific ages. I am a teacher by trade and know all about middle schoolers, but these little ones really throw me for a loop!

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