The Top 8 DVDs That Teach the Alphabet and Phonics

While limiting TV time is important, the time kids do spend in front of the television can actually be educational. A wide variety of shows and DVDs are available that focus on teaching kids as well as entertaining them.

Some TV Shows Are Based on Academics and Learning First

Anna Housley Juster has worked in educational media for young children for over 11 years. As the former director of content for Sesame Street, Juster says, "I know much much research goes into quality children's television that is truly educational." Formative tests are used on educational children's shows like Sesame Street to increase the comprehension of children with specific learning goals.

Certain programs focus their scripts around academic curriculum on helping children prepare for school. For example, Sesame Street writers focus on the basics of the alphabet like letters, numbers, and cooperation to help low-income kids.

Below is a list of DVDs that are great for helping kids learn the alphabet and/or phonics.

In Richard Scarry's Best ABC Video Ever!, Huckle Cat and his classmates present the alphabet in 26 charming stories. Each story emphasizes familiar words beginning with each letter.

This 2001 animated short is an Amazon Best Seller and runs for just 30 minutes to help children learn the alphabet in a storytelling style. The stories are a great fit for toddlers and small children.

In the 2004 Rock 'N Learn: Letter Sounds, director Richard Caudle colorfully presents each letter of the alphabet along with corresponding letter sounds and words beginning with each letter.

After presenting the letters, the DVD puts kids' knowledge to the test with well-developed games that are both entertaining and highly effective. The mix of characters, entertaining music, and phonemic awareness allows students to become better readers. This type of program has won over 150 educational awards.

LeapFrog is a short educational film and music show released in 2003 by director Roy Allen Smith with the goal of experiencing pure learning fun.

In the installment of the LeapFrog educational series, Professor Quigley, Leap, Lily, and Tad arrive at the magical Letter Factory, where Leap learns about the sounds each of the letters make.

Kids love to watch their friend Tad, and the movie contains humor and music as well to help kids learn to love the letters. For children aged 2-5, Letter Factory teaches letters, phonics, and listening skills.

Alphabet Beats
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Originally developed to help children with autism learn to write the alphabet, TV Teacher DVDs can help all kids learn to read and write their letters.

TV Teacher Miss Marnie uses visual demonstrations along with clever auditory chants to help kids learn to properly form each letter of the alphabet. Also, viewing kiddos get to see objects that begin with the letter they are learning, as well as see the word for the object, and hear Miss Marnie say the word. All of these different learning styles come together into a highly effective teaching tool.

Alphabet Beats comes on two separate DVDs, one for uppercase letters and one for lowercase ones. The TV Teacher makes writing fun with complete educational sets that therapists, teachers, and parents can use. More »

Meet the Letters
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Meet the Letters is an animated DVD by director Kathy Oxley from the Preschool Prep Company. The 2005 series focuses on wonderful characters that teachers children upper and lowercase letter recognition.

Meet the Letters effectively introduces toddlers and preschoolers to the upper and lower case letters of the alphabet by showing each letter and name several times. Then, the different animations involving each letter serve as memory cues, in addition to being fun for kids. More »

This 2005 educational DVD by Galloping Minds is a series that helps babies and kids develop their minds from ages six months to six years old. Children learn how to identify objects that are related to the alphabet, and the series breaks up educational programs between younger and older children.

Baby Learns Alphabet and Phonics introduces children to the alphabet and phonics using computer animation and live action footage. The video displays both upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet, along with computer animation, pictures, or live footage of objects beginning with each letter. Letters, letter sounds, and words are spoken by a narrator.

Sesame Street’s All-Star Alphabet introduces children to the alphabet letter by letter. Costumed letters “A” (Nicole Sullivan) and “Z” (Stephen Colbert) host the show from the mall.

In between shorts and musical numbers about each letter of the alphabet, "A" and "Z" walk around as pseudo reporters, interviewing adults and children about alphabet related topics and pointing themselves out in-store signs.

All-Star Alphabet was released in 2005 and includes popular segments like Elmo's Rap Alphabet, Telly Monster, and Don't Know Y.

In this live-action program, Barney, Baby Bop, BJ, Riff and their friends learn about animals one letter of the alphabet at a time.

The gang starts out with alphabet blocks, then each character takes a few letters and sets out to find an animal that begins with each letter. As they go through the alphabet, the friends talk, laugh and sing about the different animals they discover. At the end, Barney and friends review each letter and animal again.

Animal ABCs was released in 2008 and forms as a clip show of scenes from Seasons 8-10 of Barney & Friends, plus some extra videos. There are over 21 songs that help children learn the alphabet.