26 Awesome Ways to Use Alphabet Beads for Learning

String sight words, have an alphabet battle, and so much more.

Alphabet Beads Activities

We love alphabet beads! They allow kids so many fun ways to get comfortable with letters and the sounds they represent. Here are our favorite alphabet beads activities, and the best letter beads to use with them.

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1. Put together an alphabet bead sensory bag.

Alphabet Beads Activities

This easy alphabet beads activity combines beads with cheap hair gel (really!) in a sealed bag. Little fingers will enjoy just manipulating the beads, while pre-K students can start identifying letters and even using them to make words.

Learn more: Fun Learning for Kids

Buy it: Creativity Street Uppercase Alphabet Beads and Roylco Lowercase Alphabet Beads.

2. Match upper and lower case letters.

A simple sorting game is a good way to help kids recognize the relationship between upper and lower case letters. Alphabet beads activities like these are a snap to prepare and can be played over and over.

Learn more: I Can Teach My Child

Buy it: PandaHall Wooden Alphabet Beads

3. Dig in the sand for alphabet beads.

Who doesn’t love a good dig in the sand tray? Bury letter beads and invite students to dig them up with fingers or tools (for extra fine motor practice). See who can assemble a complete alphabet the fastest, or have them work to spell their name.

Learn more: Preschool Inspirations

4. Splash out with some water play.

Speaking of fine motor practice, this activity has kids using scooping and grabbing tools to fish alphabet beads out of a bin of water. So fun!

Learn more: Fun Learning for Kids

Buy it: Learning Resources Fine Motor Tools Set

5. Assemble a seek-and-find bottle.

Use rice or poly pellets mixed with letter beads to fill a bottle. Then play a game of I Spy: “I spy a red letter with lots of curves.” Older kids can work on sight words or spelling words this way too.

Learn more: The Letters of Literacy

6. Plant carrots with Peter Rabbit.

Alphabet Beads Activities

This is one of the cutest alphabet beads activities we’ve seen! Kids “plant” a lower case letter “seed” in a patch of felt dirt. Then they pretend to water it, and eventually they “grow” the matching capital letter carrot. Simply adorable!

Learn more: Growing Book by Book

7. Make a letter string.

Alphabet Beads Activities

One of the most popular alphabet beads activities is simply stringing letters on pipe cleaners. This one is good practice for kids still learning their letters. Have them match and string a mix of letter beads to find all the ones of the same letter.

Learn more: Happy Little Kindergarten

Buy it: JPSOR Colorful Square Letter Beads

8. Have an Alphabet Battle.

It’s like Battleship with alphabet beads! Learn how to play and get free printable game boards at the link.

Learn more: Fun Learning for Kids

9. Clean up with soap foam.

Time to give your letter beads a bit of cleaning? This activity is a sensory delight for kids, and you’ll all wind up squeaky clean in the end. 

Learn more: Parenting Chaos

10. Give Chicka Chicka Boom Boom a new twist.

Alphabet Beads Activities

“A told B and B told C, ‘I’ll BEAD you to the top of the coconut tree!'” Craft a tree from pipe cleaners, then read the story and have kids add the letters as you go!

Learn more: Stir the Wonder

Buy it: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

11. Sort alphabet beads by characteristics.

Alphabet Beads Activities

Some kids find it a bit challenging to tell the difference between the various letters. When you help them identify the different attributes can be a real help. Get free printable sorting mats to use at the link.

Learn more: Early Learning Ideas

12. Experiment with fizzing letter cubes.

Alphabet Beads Activities

It’s never too early for a fun science experiment! This rudimentary take on acids and bases also helps students learn the beginning sounds of words.

Learn more: The Kindergarten Connection

13. Enjoy a bowl of alphabet beads soup.

You can do a lot of alphabet beads activities with a bowl of alphabet soup! Label spoons with letters and have kids dig out the match. Mix the letter beads with plain beads for more of a challenge. Just don’t get tempted to take a bite!

Learn more: Play Teach Repeat

14. Build a rope pulley.

Active learners will love alphabet beads activities that get them up and moving. Set up a basic pulley with a rope and bucket. Stand on the higher level (playground equipment is perfect for this) and call out a letter for a student to find. Have them place it in the bucket, then haul it up to see if they’re correct.

Learn more: Fun Learning for Kids

15. Find the missing letter.

Alphabet Beads Activities

String a series of letters onto pipe cleaners, with one or more missing. Have your students identify the correct alphabet beads to complete the series.

Learn more: My Little Bookcase

16. Stamp your name with alphabet beads.

Make permanent stamps with hot glue, or stick them into poster putty so you can re-use the letter beads. Then let kids go crazy stamping their names in a rainbow of colors!

Learn more: Preschool Inspirations

17. Make an impression with Play-Doh.

Alphabet Beads Activities

Play-Doh belongs in every classroom, and there are so many alphabet beads activities you can use it for. Stamp out sight words, match upper and lower case letters, sort out all the vowels… you get the idea.

Learn more: The Kindergarten Connection

18. Sport an alphabet bead necklace.

Learning the ABCs? Make a necklace kids can refer to while they practice! They’ll work on their fine motor skills as they string it, and it makes a fun keepsake of their preschool or kindergarten years.

Learn more: Rhythms of Play

Buy it: Rockin Beads Multicolored Round Letter Beads

19. Work on sight words.

Sight words are a major concept for kids learning to read. Practice recognizing, matching, and spelling out sight words with these free printable cards. 

Learn more: In My World

Buy it: Melissa & Doug Wooden Alphabet Beads Set

20. Spell out CVC words.

Mastering consonant-vowel-consonant words is another important part of learning to read. This alphabet beads activity has kids sounding out each letter of the word as they slide it into the pipe cleaner, building to the complete word as they finish.

Learn more: Gift of Curiosity

21. Break words into parts.

Alphabet Beads Activities

Use other beads (or pasta!) as separators as kids break words into their phonics parts or divide them by syllables.

Learn more: My Little Bookcase

22. Swallow up flies and spiders.

Alphabet Beads Activities

Singing or reading about the old lady who swallowed a fly? Turn it into an alphabet beads activity by stringing the various things she eats onto pipe cleaners and dropping them into an old (but clean) Mrs. Butterworth’s bottle!

Learn more: Housing a Forest

23. Get some hands-on spelling words practice.

No matter how old they are, kids will get a kick out of using alphabet beads activities to practice spelling. It’s a lot more fun than just writing the list over and over.

Learn more: Creative Family Fun

Buy it: Warmtree Transparent Multicolor Letter Beads

24. Learn the finger spelling alphabet.

Embrace diversity by teaching your students to finger spell using alphabet beads! Make your own activity cards, or visit the link to buy a set.

Learn more: Miss Giraffe

25. Create alphabet beads napkin rings.

Here’s a cute project for kids to take home to their families. Have them spell out names on pipe cleaners decorated with other kinds of beads. Then bend them into spirals to be used as napkin rings!

Learn more: Art Bar

26. Knot a nifty name bracelet.

Alphabet Beads Activities

This craft project is perfect for older students who are ready to move beyond simple stringing. Get complete instructions on how to knot these fun letter bracelets at the link.

Learn more: Instructables

We’ve got all the best ideas for helping kids learn to read. Check out the Big List of K-2 Literacy Centers!

Hoping to catch a great bargain on some of these alphabet beads or other teacher supplies? Be sure to join the WeAreTeachers Deals group on Facebook.

26 Awesome Ways to Use Alphabet Beads for Learning

Posted by Jill Staake

Jill Staake is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She's spent most of her life teaching in traditional classrooms and beyond, from 8th grade English to butterfly encounters, and believes learning is a life-long process.

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