Making it Fun to Learn the Alphabet Letters July 08 2008
As the parent of a preschooler, you understand the importance of helping your child master the letters of the alphabet before they reach grade school age.
As any first grade teacher can tell you, children who enter school with a solid understanding of the alphabet are apt to learn to read faster, and can quickly learn to write sentences more fluently than their peers.
But, while most parents know that learning all the alphabet letters is crucial to the development of basic literacy skills, most don’t realize that children possessing a deficiency in this area in the early years often fail to reach important literacy milestones well into elementary school.
The good news is that there are many simple, fun (and by fun we mean fun for children and parents), and effective ways of teaching your child their letters and all the sounds each letter represents.
Since preschoolers learn most effectively by using all five of their senses, it’s best to incorporate a variety of activity types into your lesson planning. Here are some tips that we think you’ll love and will keep your child ahead of the literacy game.
Start by choosing a “letter of the week” each week and make that letter your focus as you choose from the activities below.
Activities that use visual skills:
- Create an alphabet chart for your child and keep it posted where he or she can see it throughout the day. Use it to go through the alphabet with your child regularly and to point to your “letter of the week.” Alphabet charts can be created from a number of items included in the Basic Literacy Kit, such as the Desktop Pocket Chart, the Big Book Easel, dry-erase boards, Magnetic Foam Alphabet Letters, or Magnetic Plastic Letter Tiles.
- Put magnetic letters on your refrigerator and help your child arrange them into words that have meaning for her, such as her name.
- Point out your letter of the week on signs as you’re out running errands together and in books while you read.
- Label objects around the house starting with your letter.
- Use alphabet flash cards and have your child name the letter you’re holding up. This can be especially useful in helping your child understand the correlation between upper and lowercase letters.
- Use the Step-By-Step Alphabet Line, and have your child jump from one letter to another. Each letter features a fun character underneath it to help children make connections between letters and words. Vowels and consonants are color-coded in red and blue.
Activities that use hearing:
- Sing the alphabet song and stop just before you get to your letter of the week. Have your child fill in the missing letter.
- Introduce a new letter by pointing out some of your child’s things that begin with that letter, such as their favorite ball, baby doll, or blanket
- Read to your child at least 15 minutes per day.
Activities using touch, taste, and smell:
- Let your child practice writing alphabet letters, even if it’s just a scribble, and praise them for their efforts. Writing helps your child reinforce what they’ve learned, and introduces the concept of communicating ideas through print.
- Trace letters with your finger on your child’s back, and ask them to guess which letter you are writing. A product that is perfect for this is Textured Touch and Trace Letters.
- Construct playful activities (either real or make-believe) that begin with the letter of the week. For example, make pretend you are pirates once during “P” week, or fly a kite together during “K” week. To see many wonderful examples of these types of letter-specific activities, visit SearchWarp.com.
- Eat foods that begin with your letter, and let your child help you in the kitchen if they desire.
- Choose a day to wear colors that begin with your letter, and let your child help choose his or her outfit.
- Make letter shapes with food on your child’s plate, or have your child glue beans or cotton balls onto construction paper. Hang your child’s creation on your refrigerator.
- Serve your child alphabet soup or alphabet cereal. Once your child has a firm grasp on the alphabet, it is also beneficial to begin engaging him in activities that help him learn how to spell. The books Letter Name and Letter and Picture Sorts for Emergent Spellers offer a complete teaching resource package that enables readers to understand the best ways to develop phonemic awareness in combination with alphabet knowledge and letter recognition.
With a little creativity and attention, your child can be on the road to literacy well before they reach kindergarten.
And, they’ll have a great deal of fun in the process. Not only will such activities help them reach academic success, but it will also develop a lifelong love of learning and boost self-confidence through elementary school and beyond.