What are letter links?

The letter links name learning system pairs a child’s printed nametag with a letter-linked picture for a word that starts with the same letter and sound. For example, Debbie’s letter link might consist of her nametag plus a picture of a duck or a deer, and Teodoro’s might include his nametag plus a picture of a tepee or a turtle.

Building on children’s natural attachment to their own names, the letter links system enables you to introduce your students to letter names and sounds. As children use letter links to identify themselves and their classmates, they begin to develop an understanding of the alphabetic principle — the understanding that alphabet letters and the sounds of speech are connected. Children also build phonological awareness — the ability to attend to the sounds of language as distinct from its meaning.

Letter links can be used by children and teachers in many ways: to label children’s artwork and belongings in the classroom; to identify children in classroom signs, lists, and messages; and to create fun and engaging classroom literacy activities.

In choosing the image for a child’s letter link, it’s important not only to match the first letter of the child’s name but also the starting sound. Some letters have more than one possible starting sound. For example, for B, Letter Links Online offers the starting sounds B, Bl, and Br. For the name Brady, you would want to choose a word starting with Br, such as bread, bridge, broccoli, or brontosaurus.

Note that Letter Links Online is the only HighScope product that provides images for both English and Spanish words, so teachers with Spanish-speaking children in their classrooms have a wider range of choices. For example, if Teodoro is an English language learner who speaks Spanish at home, the teacher might choose a letter-linked picture for a Spanish word such as toro (bull) or tambor (drum).

For more information and ideas for using letter links in the classroom, as well as background information on the research and literacy learning principles behind the letter links system, please consult Letter Links — Alphabet Learning With Children’s Names, by Dr. Andrea DeBruin-Parecki and Mary Hohmann, or the Spanish version, Enlaces de letras — Aprendizaje del alfabeto con los nombres de los niños. For more information on the content of these books and how to order them, click on Resources in the menu bar above.

Create or edit your CLASS LISTS of letter links.
Visit the ACTIVITIES page for ideas for using letter links in the classroom.