Alphabetical Order Games & Activities

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 15 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Learning while playing is a great way to solidify concepts in a child's mind. These activities include physically active and quiet games designed to support students who are learning (or practicing) alphabetizing skills.

Alphabetical Order for All Ages

When you think about practicing alphabetical order, you may automatically think about Kindergarten, but the fact is, students need to practice alphabetical order through later elementary school as well. List of words with similar beginnings (such as the first three letters being identical) are great for older elementary students.

These activities are designed to be easily adjusted for all skill levels by changing the word lists used. They encourage active involvement as well as quiet contemplation to fit whatever your classroom needs are.

Active Games

Running and playing are fun activities that keep students engaged. Concepts learned while being active and fully engaged are often highly internalized.

The Zoo Train

  • Materials: Index cards
  • Preparation: Write one animal name per index card. Ensure there will be enough for all students in the class. Also ensure that there is a wide variety of beginning letter words (e.g., ant, bear, cat, etc.).
  • To Play: Give each student a card and ask them to walk around the room randomly. At a signal, the students are to quickly organize themselves into an alphabetized train of animals.
  • Adjustments: To increase the skill level of this game, do not refer to it as a zoo train and use any set of words. Students should still physically move themselves around to form a line of correctly alphabetized words.

A B C Hopscotch

  • Materials: Index cards, small bean bags and sidewalk chalk/painter's tape
  • Preparation: Draw four or five hopscotch game boards on a hard surface (you could create these with painter's tape on the floor in your classroom if needed). On index cards, create sets of words to put into the squares on each hopscotch board.
  • To Play: Divide the class into four or five equal groups (one group per board drawn). At a signal, the first person in each group tosses a bag to the square with the word that would be first in alphabetical order for that group and follows through with the correct jumping sequence. The student should pick up the word card on the way back during his or her turn. Then, the second student tosses the bag into the square with the next word in correct alphabetical order and follows the procedure (picking up the card on the way back). Play continues until all members of the team have a card and the cards are in alphabetical order. The first team finished wins. Put the words back into the hopscotch squares and have teams rotate to a different board. Play until all teams have played all boards.

Alphabet Scavenger Hunt

  • Materials: Classroom supplies
  • Preparation: None
  • To Play: Divide the class into groups of four or five members each (make sure the groups are even). At a signal, every member of each group tries to find an item starting with a specified letter. You could assign the same letter to all groups or assign a different letter to each group. When everyone has returned with their item, each group must line up their items in alphabetical order. For a challenge, you could then have all the groups work together to line up all the collected items in alphabetical order.
  • Adjustments: This game requires that students are able to spell. To make this game appropriate for younger students, you could have them grab an alphabet block from a central pile and then put the blocks in alphabetical order in their groups.

Quiet Games

These activities are designed to give students extra practice at alphabetizing without causing disruptions to the class environment. These can all be accomplished with students seated at their own desks or in an assigned work space.

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