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Classroom Activities

English Teaching Materials, Games and Activities

January 27, 2009

Alphabet Tracks

It was New Year's Eve and my family were all sitting in the living room watching the television and killing themselves laughing. I sat for awhile, but for some reason I couldn't get excited about old men singing karaoke and young men getting dressed up as old women, so I sat at my computer trying to think up a new game or activity.

I like making track races, but it's really difficult to make all those curves and bends, then I thought about the number eight. I opened a text box and created a full page outline of number '8' using Jester font, then I saved it as a PNG file, opened it in Paint, put lines in it and then coloured it. Here's what it looks like so far.


It's not a bad track, but I couldn't think what to put on the track; pictures, words?, it seemed lacking in purpose so I abandoned it.

Back to the TV, but after 10 minutes I thought I had totally lost my sense of humour, so I went back to the computer. Revitalised after my television break, I began to think of how I might use other numbers to create tracks, then it dawned on me that if I used lowercase letters, then I would have 26 Alphabet Tracks at my disposal.

When I get a new idea, then I race to completion, it's almost as if someone else has got the same idea and I'm going to be accused of plagiarism, somehow these thoughts help me focus. Anyway, I set to it right away and before the end of the year I managed to create my first three alphabet tracks. Over the next few days I would enjoy making the next 23.

Many creations end up in the trash can, but Alphabet Tracks will end up in many a classroom. How can I claim such a thing? Well let's look at some of the good points about them. They are very easy to make, just print them out and laminate them. They are affordable; 26 sheets of high-quality inkjet paper, 26 laminating sheets and ink, which does push the price up by a little. They are attractive, colourful and full of interesting pictures. They have a long shelflife and are easy to store. The rules of play simple and you don't need any special equipment to play.


That's nice, but what about their educational value? Well, children will review or learn a lot of interesting words, they will take a greater interest in stroke order and letter formation, and phonemic awareness is built into the boards. For all the consonants, apart from 'X', all the vocabulary items begin with the sound/letter which any particular alphabet track represents. For the short vowels, I decided to use the vowel mostly in the medial position, because of the lack of suitable vocabulary beginning with short vowel sounds.


Let me tell you how I first introduced the tracks to my students. Before class proper began, most of the children were busy doing crossword puzzles, word searches or other worksheets and when it was time to start the lesson they left the writing area and came to the 'play' area of my classroom and took their seats. In front of them, on the carpet, were several alphabet tracks. Now I'm sure the children could have just began playing without any assistance from me, but I wanted them to get the best out of these materials, so I asked them if someone would like to play a game with me. Hands shot up and one child was chosen and I asked the others to watch while we played.

We used two dice and two small counters. I began. I rolled both dice and moved forward according to the lowest number, identifying each picture as I went. I wanted the game to move slowly and I knew that some children would be happy just to count out the numbers and then identify just the one picture on each roll, this way they would move leisurely around the track and be encouraged to name each picture. By the time we finished this first game, all the children were eager to play. They play in pairs or a group of three if we have an odd number of students. Of course the teacher could pair up with one of the students, but I prefer to stay in the background and make myself available, should anyone need assistance. I told the students to ask me "What is it?", if they came across words they didn't know.


It was interesting to watch them play, wondering the best way to use the 't' track and to see them tracing their fingers around the boards without any encouragement from myself. They also began to notice how each track used vocabulary beginning with the same initial sound as in the playing letter. They noticed that the short vowel boards didn't use vocabulary using the initial sound of the playing letter and their asked my wife why this was. We told them that there wasn't many interesting words beginning with these sounds, so we put the sounds in the middle of the words. They noticed it and were quite satisfied with the answer. Most of them were quick to ask me "What is it?", when they came across new words. I used the cards with elementary school students (first-sixth grade), junior high school students, high school students and adults, who happen to be preschool teachers. Everyone, without exception, enjoyed playing.

Now available on CD. Contact me for further information or for a sample puzzle.


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Thanks for sharing. I'd love to have you email a copy for me to use. I'll try them and then let you know what the kids do with them. Pam


It's my pleasure to email the files to you.

Thanks for reading,

I love your small letter track idea! I'm teaching phonics and reading in India and would love copies of these to try with my students. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Thanks, Kirsten

Wow Kirsten. I never realised that ELTNews was read in India, but that's the power of the Internet and the popularity of ELTNews.

I'll send soon.


Hi David,

These are great activities. You have a flair for the visual. My 3- and 5-year-olds crowded the screen when I read your post.



Well, I now have their seal of approval. That's good enough for me.


This is a fantastic resource for phonics. i like that the vocab contained is phonetically consistent and that the tracks follow the writing track of the letters. I would love it if you could email me a copy to use with my students and to share with a few friends who I know are teaching phonics.

Hi Stuart,

These are copyrighted materials, but you are welcome to share them with a "few friends". The tracks will be on the way to you shortly. Let us know the reaction of your students.


Hi David, I would love to try out your "tracks". I do something similar with cards. I lay them out in the shape of the Alphabet letters, but being "cards" it is hard with the curves of lower case.

Hope the "curves" on my cards meet with your approval.


That looks very interesting. I think this is a fantastic phonetic/ writing awareness activity. I'm very interested in trying these out with my pre-k kiddies.

Hi Joe, thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.


These look wonderful. I will start teaching elementary students from April. Before taking into the classroom I will try with my own children. Love how you were inspired by getting away from the TV,

That's a great way to test the materials. I've done the same; I know if they like them then everyone will.


Hi David,
I am using many of your ideas and activities at my school. The 'Alphabet Tracks' look perfectly suited to my pre-F.Out classes of 3-5 yr olds, and will also be good for older beginners. I'd very much appreciate you mailing these to me.
Thank you for your generosity with the ideas you produce.
Best regards, Jeremy Barnes

Hi Jeremy,

Knowing that you are using 'many of my ideas and activities at your school' gives me much job satisfaction. I tend to churn out materials, test them on my students, and then move onto the next project. So I often think that other teachers use my materials better than I do.

Best wishes,
David Lisgo

Hi David,

Another brilliant idea!! I have been using your Switchit cards in all my classes... they love playing it and I love the fact they are working on phonics at the same time!!

I would love a copy of your alphabet tracks - I particularly like the idea of kids picking up on the stroke order through playing a game like this... a New Year`s well spent, by the looks of it!!


Hi Stacey,

Thanks very much for your comment, I can assure you that very few of my ideas are "brilliant", but I'm happy to accept your judgement on this one. Thanks also for using Switchit in your classes. The game has been so popular with so many people. Now I'm developing Switchit Junior, new Switchit packs and a sentence game which work similarly to Switchit. One idea leads to the next.

Best wishes,

Nice new gameboards, David.

I, too, would be keen to add another game to my collection. Please do forward them on. The students are always happy to see & use something new in the c/rm. Report will follow.



Hi James,

I'll be happy to get some feedback on the game boards. I'm really glad that everyone likes them, but I hope you all will be happy to read about average bread-and-butter materials as well.

Best wishes,

Hi David,

Thanks for sharing and thanks for introducing the "tracks". Hopefully this answers my "cloudy head" on how to teach phonics to kids.

You will definitely hear from me and from my students.

Best regards,


Hi MariRose,

Thank you very much for your comment. I think you're going to be a great phonics teacher, because having a "cloudy head" is a prerequisite for teaching phonics. Having a cloudy head means that we are always straining our mind to see things more clearly.

I'm looking forward to hearing more from you, and from your students.

Best wishes,

Hi David,

Thanks for the encouragement. I didn`t know that having a "cloudy head" could have a positive meaning. Yes, I would appreciate if you could forward them. Games are always fun no matter what age.

Best regards,


The files are on the way. Enjoy!

What a brilliant idea. I would love to try these with some of my special needs students. I think it would be of great help to them. Thanks!

Hello Kai,

I hope that you have broadband. I'm presuming everyone who requests these has broadband, otherwise they will take an awful long time to download.

We all have some of those "special needs students" and we all need help.


Just found your new game David. An excellent idea! Please send. I can't wait to try them out on my students -- and recommend them and your other materials to future teachers.

Thank you for that recommendation Aleda; most kind of you. I'll send the files shortly and perhaps you can use them today!


Im working with elementary students in Japan learning the alphabet for the first time. These cards would complement their current lessons perfectly. Thanks for sparing your time and effort.

You're more than welcome.


I too think these look great! I'm new to grade 1 and there are a lot of students who would benefit from these alphabet cards. I would greatly appreciate if you could email me a copy.

You are a saviour! I love resources like these.


I think you will find many ways to use these materials and I hope they benefit you and your pupils.

I'll send the file soon.


You have some many wonderful ideas!
I teach kindergarten. Is it possible to get a copy of all the alphabet letter tracks. I was searching for activities for short vowels.
PS Your computer skills clearly surpass mine!

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you for your kind comments.

I'll send the tracks shortly.


I would love a copy of the letter tracks. They are just what I have been looking for. I used large hand draw pictures showing vocab. centered around letters (ie. a goose with grapes going though a gate to a garden to get a grapefruit...etc.) to review sounds and encourge vocab building, but your letter tracks sound like a fun way to do it simplier and motivate the children to speak. Please send me a copy when you get the chance.


Hi Madeleine,

Good to hear from you again. I'll send the tracks to you in a minute.

Take care,

I would love a copy of the letter tracks. They are just what I have been looking for. I used large hand draw pictures showing vocab. centered around letters (ie. a goose with grapes going though a gate to a garden to get a grapefruit...etc.) to review sounds and encourge vocab building, but your letter tracks sound like a fun way to do it simplier and motivate the children to speak. Please send me a copy when you get the chance.


Hi there, I love your idea
about the alphabet race tracks and was wondering if you could send me your
tracks for use with my two kids who are a little slow at learning and I am needing something that can spur on their imagination. I think the tracks would do it well. Thanks again.

Hi Andrew,

I now play "Stop! Ask! Pass!" A student goes round the track identifying each picture as he or she goes, when an unknown is reached the student asks me to identify the picture and play now passes to the new player. Who must begin at the 'start'.


Hi David,
Have just come across your alphabet tracks and am very interested in utilising them in my classroom. I would love it if you could email me a copy of them.
Thanks for your time

Hi Michelle,

I didn't get your email number could you contact me again.


Hi David,
Just wanted to say again how impressed I am with your designs. Would love to hear about anything else you have in the works.

my kindergarten kids have been starting the lower case alphabet, so these would be an awesome activity for them to do. This is my first time to visit this website, but definitely not the last,

Hello Daniel,

I'll send you the files shortly. I'm glad to hear that you like the website. It's a compliment to us all.



Thanks for sharing. I'd love to have you email a copy for me to use. I teach reading in Korea. I'll try them and then let you know what the kids do with them.


Hi There! I'm very thankful for your great ideas ! Could you please send me the letters tracks , I'm a teacher from Argentina and I'm just dealing with the alphabet with my kids ! You are very creative ! thanks again!!!

Hello, I had been told about these alphabet tracks, I teach phonics and they would be so cool to use. Where can i get them from. I have never seen them here in New Zealand. Hoping to hear from you,
kindest regards
Margaret Wood

Hi David,

Coming up with these Alphabet Tracks is an excellent idea. I am planning to do this with my 1st Grade classes this June. I would appreciate it if you could email me a copy of the tracks. I sure will send you my pupils' feedback the soonest time possible!
Thanks ahead!
Teacher Caroseal

Hi David,

These look great! If the files are still available would like to have them sent to me as well.

Thanks in advance.


These are great! I have only just found this site, but have been looking for great ways to introduce and teach words like this. I will be back to visit this web site again and again for great ideas! Would you mind emailing me these tracks?? Thanks TONS!
Laura H...

Thanks for the visit, you're welcome back anytime.

I'll send the tracks soon.


I'd really like a copy of your alphabet. I'll be teaching first grade this year. Thanks! Sally


what a fantastic Idea! I would love to try out these letter tracks in my elementary school English classes. Would you be kind enough to email them to me?

Thank you


Hi David,

These look like a lot of fun. If you could send me the files I'd love to try them out. Keep up the good work.


Hi David!
I've just enjoyed reading your inventive way of teaching English to young learners.Congratulations!
I'd like to have a copy of it on my email.

Best regards,Daniela

Thank you very much for your comment and apologies for not having sent his earlier. I hope that they are still useful for you.

Hi, David! I love your alphabet tracks. They are very easy , but at the same time soooo useful. The children would be excited to work with them!!!!
Thanks for a great work!!!!

Hi David,

I love your idea and would love to have a copy. I'm sure my students will love them. We'll give you feedback!


I'm looking forward to that feedback.

I think I found just what I'm looking for with your alphabet tracks! Would you please send your files to me? I teach students with disabilities in high school, many of whom are just learning to read.
Sue :)

I sure hope they like them.


I would love you to email me a copy of your materials. I think my "active" Kindergartners would enjoy using them. Thanks for the informations

I really like your alphabet tracks. I'd like to use them with my kindergarten class. Please email me the files. Thank you :)

I love your alphabet tracks!! I am teaching phonics to 4 year old children at an international school. I would love to try these with them and see the results.

Hi David,

I was referred here by your post to Activelearners. These games look fun! If you are still reading these comments and wouldn't mind sending me a copy of the tracks, I'd sure like to have them for my preschool students and my soon-to-be-preschooler son.



Hi David,

I just found this page while searching for phonic-related activities to teach kindergarten students, and I think your alphabet tracks are a wonderful idea. I would really appreciate if you would send me a copy by email.

Thanks in advance.


These alphabet tracks are one of the best things I have found online. I usually like to make my own materials, convinced that nothing in a book or online reflects what 'my' students abilities and interests are. BUT this is definitely something that my ESL students will enjoy and learn from. I would love if you could send me the file of alphabet tracks! Thanks so much, Joanna.

Hello David, I would like to try your alphabet tracks.Please send me a copy.
Thank you

The tracks are fantastic! I think they'd be a perfect way to review letters and sounds for some of my struggling students. Could you please email them to me? Thank you!!


What a great idea! Combining letter recognition, letter writing/tracing and vocabulary all in one activity.

Would you please email me the files. I would love to try these with my elementary students and junior high students. I think my two children, 7 and 4, will also love this activity.


Iwaizumi, Iwate

Hi! David ! This year I made a welcome sign with your tracks and then the kids did activities finding words in the sign , it was great ! THANKSS!!!!Ana Lía


Great approach for helping students absorb phonics. This is useful for learners of English from any country!

For those teachers looking to teach Japanese elementary students the alphabet incredibly quickly, I've just released the mnemonic system I use in my own lessons as an e-book. My revolutionary approach may seem a bit heretical, but it works like a charm! My students love it and they actually remember what they've learned! I invite anyone interested to check out the mnemonics at
Print out the examples, try them on your students and see for yourself!

Happy teaching!

Drew Badger

David, I am a Title I teacher and would love to try your alphabet tracks in my classroom with my K-2 students. I would really appreciate it if you could send me your file. Thanks! Tammy

These are really eyecatching. I'd love to try them in my phonics class if the offer is still available.

Thank you



great idea. I'm sure all the students will love playing these. They'll be especially useful for the students that have a hard remembering the sounds.

Would you please send me a track or two?

Keep up the good work!


Please could I have a copy of these please, they would be great in my classroom thanks in advance

It's wonderful, I really love them! It's a great idea and I'm sure it's a hard work! Would you mind sending me a copy of your alphabet tracks for my French pupils please? Thanks a lot.

I totally love your alphabet tracks ... I showed them to the english coordinator at school, she loved them too... awesome work u really inspire teachers to be creative...


costa rican teacher!

Hi David.
I just discovered your alphabet tracks and would love to use them with the kids I teach support english to. I'd love if you could mail me the files.
Thanks for sharing your ideas,

I work with special needs kids in my class. That would be something really interesting to try out. It says that they are available on CD. How do you exactly get those? Can you send me the info? I would like to have them for my students. Thanks

I love this idea and have never seen it before.Could you please send me a copy of them?

What a great idea for my PreK students! I am envisioning adding miniature cars so they can 'race' around the lettters learning as they go. May I have a copy for my classroom, please.

I love the alphabet tracks and would be very greatful if you could send me a copy that I could cut out and laminate. Thanks very much

I love these! I am teaching young kids in a bilingual school in Hungary, and I know they'd love these--can you send me the files? Thank you!

Well, been a bit since you have created these alphabet tracks. Love the idea! Ideal for my preschoolers as well as my students that take part in my Summer Kindergarten Readiness Programs. I'm especially interested in the vowels to use presently but the consonants for the fall. Would it be possible to get a copy of these now? Thanks!

I like this idea,

I want to start using it with my classes how to get more letters.

Hi David,
Have just come across your alphabet tracks and am very interested in using them in my classroom in Peru. I would love it if you could email me a copy of them.
Thanks for your time


Hi David,
the tracks are wonderful. I really like how the way to follow the track is the same way to write the letter. Now just gotta get my students interested in boardgames. Please send me the files!

wow! I love the alphabet tracks. how do I contact you to organise payment for those great resources?
justine - Victor Harbor, South Australia

Please sent me a copy of this material. Thanks and congratulations!

It is really a cool idea. Thanks for sharing it. I will use it right away with my kids in class!

I really like your tracks and would love to get a copy of them to use with my students.

I like your alphabet tracks and I will love to use it with my children. Please could you send me a copy.

I love the look of these resources and can see great learning potential using them in my Phonics group. I'd appreciate a copy if the offer still stands. It is testament to their worth that people across the globe are still requesting copies nearly 5 years later! Thank you for creating and sharing.


Hi David

I work in a special needs school in England and would love to use your alphabet tracks with my children. I would be most grateful if you could send me a copy.

Thank you very much for your kindness and hard work in designing and sharing this amazing resource!

Many thanks


Hi David, I have several children in my class whose first language is not English and your alphabet tracks would be great for helping them to build their vocabulary, as well as reinforcing the letter shapes. Please could you send me a copy..

Hello David

I am a professional jolly phonics listed trainer on UK' s website.I conduct phonics programmes for the kids age 3 to 5 ,to develope an emergent reader.

I just loved your capital and small alphabets track coloured sheets along with the vowels.I would really appreciate if you could email me these files on my email address.I would share the usage of the same soon.
Thank You
Hema Chandra

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