When working on handwriting skills, letter rhymes are a tool to have in your toolbox! Whether you are looking for summer enrichment, or planning for the upcoming school year, the OT Toolbox is highlighting letters with posts on games, activities, worksheets, and this one on Letter Formation Rhymes. Pair these multi-sensory activities with hands-on letter formation activities and letter formation worksheets for engaging and motivating skill-building.
letter formation Rhymes
Before getting into letter formation rhymes, it’s important to understand the underlying skills necessary for writing letters with accuracy and automaticity when it comes to handwriting.
When it comes to auditory processing skills, auditory memory is a factor that improves carryover skills. The auditory memory tool of a rhyme to support letter creation is a spark for legible formation and the functional pencil stroke sequences in letter formation, however if the underlying components are not in place, a rhyme or letter song will not help.
As always, it is important to understand the basics before expanding your activities. Understanding development and the “why” before starting activities and games will improve your effectiveness and efficiency as a therapist. Knowing the reason a student is struggling on a particular task will point you in the right direction when it comes to treatment activities.
Difficulties with letter formation may come from a variety of different sources including:
- visual perception
- hand weakness
- motor planning
- bilateral coordination
- executive function skills.
Our lengthy resource on letter formation covers the reasons why the letter formation aspect of handwriting can be so difficult. Be sure to check out all of the letter formation activities including ways to teach letters that use a hands-on and sensory approach to learning letters. You’ll also find resources on letter order, and information on teaching letters based on child development.
Alphabet formation rhymes
Now that you are familiar with the basics, and have some great resources to get you started, how about adding letter formation rhymes to your toolbox!
Some tips and ideas to get you started with incorporating letter rhymes into teaching handwriting:
- Use consistent verbal prompts. If you use a particular letter formation rhyme, stay consistent with using that same verbiage each time.
- Use a visual prompt. You can use our letter formation rhyme printable.
- Use age-appropriate directions. Younger students may appreciate rhymes and cute visuals to go along with the letter formation directions. Older students may appreciate simple instructions for each letter, such as: “m – start at the top. Down up, over, down again, and over once more to finish your m”.
- Add whole-body learning. Incorporate movement using our alphabet exercises along with letter formation rhymes that uses body movements to describe the letters.
- Teach letters in groups based on the pencil strokes that make up the letters. These are called letter families. For example, letters L, E, F, I, H, T are in a letter family. And c, a, g, o, and q are in a letter family. All letters of the alphabet can be grouped with other similar letters based on the pencil lines that make up the letter. This goes for uppercase letters as well as lowercase letters. Teaching letters in a similar group promotes the motor plan needed, as well as improves pencil control skills.
- Simple verbal cues- Handwriting without Tears (now called Learning without Tears) has great rhymes and songs to go with their learning program. Mat Man is a big theme in their program, and simple yet effective directions for forming letters include: big line, little line, big curve, little curve.
- Interactive Activities: Plan interactive and multi-sensory letter formation activities that involve students actively participating in the letter formation process. For instance, use large motor movements to draw letters on a whiteboard or on the floor.
- Try different strategies. Here are 10 ways to teach letter formation that incorporate different sensory tools. Use these activities along with the letter rhymes to really establish a motor plan for each letter.
- Use consistent letter formation activities along with verbal rhymes for each letter. We have our series of sensory letter worksheets that incorporate the same types of activities on each letter mat. Grab your copy of:
letter formation Rhyme videos
Some therapists and teachers prefer to teach using videos. This is definitely a viable option, however you can also use the videos to learn the songs, then teach them to your students without video aids. Plus, you can send a list of the letter rhyme videos to parents to support handwriting carryover at home as part of OT handwriting homework or a home program.
If you are looking for songs rather than letter formation rhymes, Jack Hartman has many videos on YouTube.
Pairing lowercase letter workout with uppercase letter gross motor coordination tasks can be a great lesson plan for teaching letter formation. This video has a workout for forming upper case letters:
This video encourages air writing for letters:
This video allows users to learn the sign language for each letter as well for fine motor coordination and finger dexterity. This can be a great home program recommendation for targeting manual dexterity goals.
This Alphabet Song is a fun way to add music and movement to letter formation activities:
We also have a series of videos that you can pull specific letter formation tips from. Each letter of the alphabet has it’s own video:
The video can be paired with letter rhymes to teach the motor skills needed for uppercase A.
The video covers how to teach letter B and then carry the pencil strokes over to similar letters.
The video addresses how to create a motor plan for letter C.
and so on…Check out the full letter formation playlist here.
why teach letter formation rhymes?
Incorporating a rhythmic song or rhyme to letter formation is helpful for establishing a motor plan for letter forms. This is especially helpful for those who learn with auditory input. We know that every student has their own learning style. The acronym VARK is used to cover these various styles of learning.
V is for Visual Learners- Some learners are visual. These individuals learn through visual input: reading, watching others complete tasks, visual examples, viewing videos, worksheets, etc.
R is for Learning Through Reading- You may find students who need to read and write the information in order to learn. This may include a combination of visual input and or auditory input by reading back information.
K is for Kinesthetic Learners- There are students who are kinesthetic learners. These learners better retain information by doing the task. A multisensory approach is great for this type of student. One tool to support this learning style when teaching letter forms is our A-Z multisensory learning mats.
Letter formation rhymes can fit all of the VARK learning categories. Videos and visuals help the visual learner. Songs and rhymes satisfy the auditory learner. Reading and writing along with the rhymes or songs can help the “R” learner, while the kinesthetic learner needs to get up and move around with the songs and rhymes.
You can modify the lesson for each individual learner, or provide a plan that has all four styles of learning embedded to meet the needs of your students. Meeting the needs of your students will be far more effective than having them bend to your particular teaching style. The most effective managers and teachers have figured out how to morph to meet the needs of each of their individual students or staff.
Alphabet Formation Rhymes
We’ve created our own letter formation rhymes for uppercase letters and lowercase letters. We’ve also put these letter rhymes into a packet, which includes uppercase letters and lowercase letters.
This takes a developmental approach to writing letters, which is to focus on the uppercase letters first and focusing on the simplest pencil strokes first, which is straight lines down and then vertical lines.
Then, the pencil strokes which can carryover to other letters are covered. We tried to come up with letter rhymes that focus in on these key developmental concepts.
Below, you’ll find the uppercase letter rhymes and the lowercase letter rhymes that we love to use.
We included a visual image (like an apple, butterfly, and cookie) for each letter. This is so the play mat has a small image that the user can color to work on fine motor skills and hand strength.
If you are a member of The OT Toolbox membership, you can log in and get these letter rhymes in a printable activity set.
Uppercase Letter Rhymes
Below are uppercase letter rhymes.
Please don’t copy these and post them in other places. Content on this site is copyrighted and trademarked.
A- A is for Apple, so round and red, To make an uppercase A, here’s what’s said: Slant to the left, a diagonal flight. Then slant to the right, with all your might. Across the middle, a line so true. Completing the A, just for you!
B- B is for Butterfly, vibrant and bright, Let’s learn to write it, with all our might. Line down, from top to base. Then a little curve, adds some grace. Another little curve, we’re almost through. Uppercase B, look at what we can do!
C- C is for Cookie, sweet and round, Let’s learn to make it, hear the sound. Start at the top, curve around in glee. A big, round shape, like a smiling C.
D- D is for Dinosaur, tall and strong, Let’s learn to make it, join along! Start at the top, make a straight line down, a sturdy backbone, with no frown. Curve to the right, like a big smile, Uppercase D, it’s been worth the while!
E- E is for Elephant, strong and grand, Let’s learn to write it, hand in hand. A big line down, from top to base, Uppercase E finds its rightful place. Then three short lines, straight across, E’s horizontal friends, no time to pause.
F- F is for Firefly, glowing so bright, Let’s learn to write it, with pure delight. A big line down, from top to base, Uppercase F takes its rightful place. Two short lines, right across it goes, One on top, the other below.
G- G is for Giraffe, tall and so grand, Let’s learn to write it, holding our hand. A big curve, starting from the top, Round and smooth, it won’t stop. Then a short line, right in the middle, Uppercase G, let’s solve the riddle!
H- H is for House, standing so tall, Let’s learn to write it, one and all. A big line down, from top to base, Uppercase H finds its rightful place. Another big line, parallel and strong, Side by side, where it belongs. Then a short line in the middle, you see, Uppercase H, formed brilliantly.
I- I is for Igloo, tall and grand, Let’s learn to write it, hand in hand. Start with a long line, from top to below, Uppercase I, a letter we’ll know! Add a short line up top, not too far, Like a little hat, it’s just the right star. Then a short line at the bottom, oh so neat, Uppercase I, it’s now complete!
J- J is for Jellyfish, swimming with glee, Let’s learn to write it, come and see! Start with a line that goes down, curving with grace, Uppercase J, taking its place. Then add a short line, standing high, Completing Uppercase J, reaching for the sky!
K- K is for Kite, soaring up high, Let’s learn to write it, reach for the sky! Start with a straight line, from top to base, Uppercase K takes its rightful place. Then make a slant, from top-right to left, Another slant down, with a gentle heft.
L- L is for Lion, strong and bold, Let’s learn to write it, as we’re told! Start with a big line, straight and tall, Uppercase L, stands proud overall. Then draw a short line, just like a mane, Completing the L with a majestic reign.
M- M is for Monkey, swinging with glee, Let’s learn to make it, just you and me! Start at the top, make a mountain peak, Uppercase M, strong and sleek. Downward we go, like a slippery slide, Then up again, right by its side. End with a big line down, no time to frown!
N- N is for Night, starry and bright, Let’s learn to write it, with delight! Start with a big line, straight and tall, Uppercase N, stands proud and all. Then a diagonal line, slanting right, Creating N’s shape, oh what a sight! Finally, a straight line, reaching up high, Uppercase N, reaching for the sky!
O- O is for Octopus, in the deep sea, Let’s learn to make it, you and me! Start at the top, a curve round and true, Uppercase O, a perfect circle for you. Go all the way around, never break the line, Uppercase O, a shape so fine!
P- P is for Penguin, waddling on ice, Let’s learn to write it, it’s simple and nice! Start at the top, a straight line down, Uppercase P, wear your writing crown. Then curve it around, like a little loop, Creating P’s shape, a playful swoop.
Q- Q is for Queen, majestic and true, Let’s learn to write it, just me and you! Start at the top, like a crown so grand, Uppercase Q, take your royal stand. Curve around, like a swooping bow. At the bottom, add a tail, Uppercase Q, you never fail!
R- R is for Rabbit, hopping with glee, Let’s learn to write it, you and me! Start at the top, a line straight down, Hop to the top for a writing crown. Then make a curve, like a little bow, Creating R’s shape, let it proudly show. Add a slanted line, with a tail so neat, Uppercase R, now complete!
S- S is for Snake, slithering with grace, Let’s learn to write it, at our own pace! Start at the top, with a curve so round, Uppercase S, a shape we have found. Then curve again, just like before, Creating S’s form, we explore.
T- T is for Tree, standing tall and true, Let’s learn to write it, me and you! Start at the top, a straight line down, Then add a line across the top, wearing its writing crown.
U- U is for Umbrella, keeping us dry, To write it, let’s give it a try! Start at the top, go down straight, Then curve around, like a smiley gate. Go back up, just like you came, Uppercase U, that’s its name!
V- V is for Violin, playing a tune, To write it, let’s try very soon! Start at the top, with a slanting line down, Then go back up, like a hill’s crown.
W- W is for Whale, swimming in the sea, Let’s learn to write it, you and me! Start with a slant down, then another the same, Climbing back up, like a mountain’s frame. Go down again, a slant it will be, Then climb back up, just like the sea.
X- X is for Xylophone, making a sound, To write it, let’s trace lines we’ve found! Start with a diagonal line, left to right, Then cross it over, it’s quite a sight.
Y- Y is for Yo-Yo, up and down, Let’s learn to write it, top to ground Start with a slant down, left to right, Then slant up, it’s a playful sight. From the center, a line straight and long, Uppercase Y, standing strong!
Z- Z is for Zebra, stripes so bold, Let’s learn to write it, we’ll be untold! Start at the top, a line going right, Then slant down left, it’s quite a sight. Another line straight, from left to right, Uppercase Z, you’re not a fright!
Lowercase Letter Rhymes
Below are alphabet rhymes for making the lowercase letters.
Please don’t copy these and post them in other places. Content on this site is copyrighted and trademarked.
a- a is for apple, juicy and red, To write it, follow these steps, it’s said: A curve on top, like a smile so sweet, Then a line down, to complete. Remember the shape, round and neat!
b- b is for butterfly, colorful and bright. To write it, here’s a simple guide: Line down, then a curved belly. A smaller hump, so lovely!
c- c is for cat, soft and sly, To write it, let’s give it a try: Start at the top, make a curve round, Then a line down, don’t make a sound! A simple shape, like a moon in the sky!
d- d is for dog, loyal and true, To write it, here’s what you can do: Start with a circle, nice and round, Then add a line, curving down. Writing d is easy, you’ll soon see!
e- e is for elephant, big and strong, To write it, it won’t take long: A line across, take a look! Then curve around. Writing e is fun, you’ll agree!
f- f is for frog, leaping so high, To write it, let’s give it a try: Start with a curve and then a line, straight and tall. Remember the line, like a lily pad, Writing f is easy, it’s not too bad!
g- g is for grapes, sweet and divine, To write it, let’s follow the line: A curve on top, just like a smile, Then a line down, it’s worth your while. Add a hook at the end, like a little swing, Writing g is fun, let your pencil sing!
h- h is for hat, worn with pride, To write it, here’s a guide: Start at the top, a line straight down, Then add a line, curved like a crown. Remember the shape, tall and true, Writing h is easy for me and you!
i- i is for igloo, icy and round, To write it, here’s what we’ve found: A line straight down, simple and neat, Dot on top, a tiny treat. Remember the dot, like a snowy flake, Writing i is easy, no mistakes to make!
j- j is for jellyfish, floating in the sea, To write it, let’s follow with glee: A line down, then a little hook, Like a curly tentacle, take a look! Remember the shape, curvy and bright, Writing j is fun, it feels just right!
k- k is for kite, flying so high. To write it, let’s give it a try: A straight line down, then a slant in and out, A shape like half a triangle or a spout.
l- l is for lion, fierce and grand, To write it, here’s what we command: A line straight down, standing tall, A line across, like a grassy stand.
m- m is for monkey, swinging with delight, To write it, follow this path just right: A little line down, like a playful dance, A hump in the middle, a joyful chance. Remember the shape, curvy and round, Writing m is fun, let’s make a joyful sound!
n- n is for nest, cozy and snug, To write it, here’s what we’ll plug: A little line down, Then one bump. Writing n is easy, up and down!
o- o is for octopus, in the deep blue sea, To write it, let’s follow this tip: A simple circle, round and true, Remember the shape, like a watery ring, Writing o is easy, let your imagination sing!
p- p is for panda, black and white, To write it, here’s what feels right: A line straight down, standing tall, Then a curve, like a bouncing ball. Remember the shape, curvy and clear, Writing p is easy, let go of any fear!
q- q is for quilt, cozy and warm, To write it, let’s follow this form: A curve round, just like c, but it’s neat, A tail curling out, like a cozy treat. Remember the shape, round and swirled, Writing q is fun, you’ll rock the world!
r- r is for rabbit, hopping the race, To write it, here’s what we’ll embrace: A line down, like a fast sprint, Then up with a curve. Remember the shape, bouncy and bright, Writing r is easy, let your imagination take flight!
s- s is for sun, shining up high, To write it, let’s give it a try: A curve on top, like a cheerful smile, Then a curve below, it’s worth your while. Remember the shape, like a wave in the sea, Writing s is easy, let your creativity roam free!
t- t is for tree, standing tall and strong, To write it, here’s where we belong: A line down, straight and true, A line across, like branches do. Remember the shape, simple and clear, Writing t is easy, have no fear!
u- u is for umbrella, keeping us dry, To write it, let’s reach for the sky: A line down, with a little hook, Then another line down, just like a book. Remember the shape, open and wide, Writing u is easy, enjoy the ride!
v- v is for Violin, playing a tune, To write it, let’s try very soon! Start at the top, with a slanting line down, Then go back up, like a hill’s crown.
w- w is for wagon, rolling with fun, To write it, here’s how it’s done: Start with a slant down, then another the same, Climbing back up, like a mountain’s frame. Go down again, a slant it will be, Then climb back up, just like the sea.
x- x is for xylophone, making a sound, To write it, let’s trace lines all around: A slant down left, then a slant right, They meet in the middle, just right. Remember the lines, crossing and strong, Writing x is easy, like a joyful song!
y- y is for yo-yo, going up and down, To write it, let’s spin lines all around: A slant down left, then a slant down right, The tail hangs down, just right.
z- z is for Zebra, stripes so bold, Let’s learn to write it, we’ll be untold! Start at the top, a line going right, Then slant down left, it’s quite a sight. Another line straight, from left to right, letter Z, you’re not a fright!
Free Letter Rhyme Play Dough Mats
Want to get your copy of letter rhyme play dough mats? We have put together a set for uppercase and lowercase rhymes.
Each alphabet rhyme play dough mat includes:
- A large letter with directional arrows
- A rhyme for the letter’s formation
- A small picture to color or fill with play dough
- A space to write the letter
You can laminate the play dough mats, or slide them into page protector sleeves. Add them to a binder and use it as a multisensory workbook for letter writing.
You can also practice the alphabet formation with other multisensory strategies, too:
- Use wikki stix to form the letters
- Use a dry erase marker to write the letter and color the letter picture
- Finger trace the letter
These packets are both free downloads here on our site. You can get them by entering your email address into the form below. The printable packets will be delivered to your email address. This way, you can print them from any device and any location.
These uppercase and lowercase alphabet rhyme printables are also available inside the Membership Club, along with hundreds of letter formation and multisensory handwriting tools. Members do not need to enter their email address for each item, they are all in one place, sorted by topic! Not a member yet? Join us in The OT Toolbox Membership Club!
final thoughts on Alphabet rhymes
If after scrolling through this post and clicking on some of the rhymes and songs, you find yourself humming along to one particular tune, you may have found the perfect one for you! Generations ago, Sesame Street or Barney was the way to learn. Now it seems Jack Hartman and Heidi have taken over. Whatever works for your particular students is the best way to teach!
Victoria Wood, OTR/L is a contributor to The OT Toolbox and has been providing Occupational Therapy treatment in pediatrics for more than 25 years. She has practiced in hospital settings (inpatient, outpatient, NICU, PICU), school systems, and outpatient clinics in several states. She has treated hundreds of children with various sensory processing dysfunction in the areas of behavior, gross/fine motor skills, social skills and self-care. Ms. Wood has also been a featured speaker at seminars, webinars, and school staff development training. She is the author of Seeing your Home and Community with Sensory Eyes.
Want printable handwriting and sensory motor activities to target the visual motor skills needed for letter writing? Grab a copy of our Letters! Fine Motor Kit. The printable PDF contains 100 pages of hands-on letter writing practice for multisensory handwriting!
Inside the Letters Fine Motor Kit, you’ll find:
- A-Z Multisensory Writing Pages: Roll a ball of dough letters, ASL sign language letters, gross motor movement, small-scale letter box writing task, finger isolation letter trace, and writing practice area
- Alphabet Fine Motor Clip Cards– Clip clothespins or paper clips to match letters with various fonts to strengthen the hands and focusing on eye-hand coordination, bilateral coordination, visual processing skills, and more.
- Cut and place Fine Motor Mazes– Cut out the letter pieces and trace the maze with a finger to work on eye-hand coordination and finger isolation. Place a small letter on the letter spots to address in-hand manipulation and dexterity skills.
- A-Z Cotton Swab Cards– Includes upper case and lower case letters. Dot the cards using a cotton swab or laminate the cards and use them over and over again.
- A-Z Pattern Block Cards– These cards include a section for tracing with a finger tip for separation of the sides of the hand, eye-hand coordination, and finger isolation during letter formation. There is also a space to “finger write” the letter using the fingertip. This multisensory letter formation activity can be a great brain break during handwriting or literacy tasks. Learners can then form the letter using parquetry blocks.
- Fine Motor Letter Geo-Cards– These geo board cards include A-Z in upper case forms. Users can copy the letter forms in a variety of multi-sensory strategies.
- A-Z Color and Cut Letter Memory Cards– These upper case and lower case letter cards can be used to color for letter formation. Then use them in fine motor matching tasks or in sensory bins.
- Color By Size Sheets– Help learners discriminate between tall letters, small letters, and tail letters. This visual perception activity invites learners to color small areas, using hand muscles for strengthening and handwriting endurance.
- A-Z Building Block Cards– These LEGO block cards invite users to copy the cards to form letters using small building blocks. Users can place the blocks on the cards or copy the letter to address visual shift and visual memory. This activity set comes in upper case and lowercase letter forms.
- A-Z Play Dough Letter Formation Cards– Print off these cards and laminate them to create play dough mats. Learners can form the letters using the arrows to correctly form letters with play dough while strengthening their hands and visual motor skills. Each card includes a space for practicing the letter formation, using a dry erase marker if the cards are laminated.
- Graded Lines Box Writing Sheets– Users can trace and form letters in boxes to work on formation of letters, line awareness, starting points, and letter size.
- Alphabet Roll and Write Sheets– Roll a dice and form the letter associated with the number of dots on the dice. This is a great way to work on letter formation skills using motivation. Which letter will reach the top first? This activity is easily integrated with a rainbow writing task to increase number or repetitions for letter practice.
- Pencil Control Letter Scan– Use the letter bubble tracks to scan for letters. Users can fill in the letters of the alphabet to work on pencil control skills.
- Color and Cut Puzzles– Color the pictures to work on hand strength and letter formation skills. Then cut out the puzzles and build visual perceptual skills.
Get your copy of the Letters Fine Motor Kit today!