Thursday, May 31, 2012

Teaching the ABC's to little ones

photo credit Microsoft Office

I have two children; one reads really well & the other doesn't - yet!
One has a keen interest in reading and  began to read before age 4. Now Ethan's almost 7! Of course, he had some help with a wonderful Christian pre-k daycare that was run by former Bible translator missionaries. They used some great tactics and introduced the alphabet to him by focusing on one letter a week. Each story, project, craft, and snack would then correspond with the letter of the week. Brilliant!

My other child, Claire, is now 4 and is home educated. She loves books, but hates to perform. It used to be that if you asked her a letter, she'd get shy and then mad that you asked her. We had to find some ways to teach the alphabet without making it seem like work. (We also had to deal with some letter confusion simply because she was learning French by immersion at the same time she was learning the American alphabet - same letters basically but a different sound!). She's doing great now, and it's likely due to consistency (mostly on my husband's part - God love him, he's so great!)

We found some great tools in Sonlight's curriculum. We use the Alphabet Bingo, and Go A to Z game (which is basically two sets of Alphabet flashcards that you play "Go Fish" with), and also a box of 25 simple readers called Fun Tales. They are very helpful. We sound out the letters as we read and point to them & she has fun when she can guess the whole word as she hears us complete the sounds (very Sesame Street-esque, I know!). 
from Sonlight (see link above)
 We also use workbooks from Walgreens or even Wal-mart. Oh, and she loves Curious George, so we bought a Curious George alphabet book too. We even use We point out letters wherever we go. We sometimes trace letters in a pan of sand (or even rice).  Sometimes, I make soft baked pretzels and we shape them into letter shapes (or you can pour pancakes in letter shapes - put the batter into a plastic baggie, close it, and snip the corner to make it into a type of frosting/decorating dispenser, if you know what I mean.). 

bought elsewhere
 Our latest addition to our alphabet resources includes a book,
 The Sleepy Little Alphabet by: Judy Sierra.
Claire really loves this one since she is into anything that has to do with mommies and babies. There are capital letters in the book that are the parents to lowercase letters. She loves that we say that the mommy "T" tucks the baby "t" in bed. So this gave me an idea!

Here's what I did:
You know those paint strips they have at your Home Improvement store or even Wal-mart - the ones with different shades of the same color? Most people use them to create a color palate for their walls, well...

I took two sets of several colors (think I picked reds, blues, oranges, greens, and purples - so 5 sets, 2 of each color).

On one set I wrote a capital letter on each space and on the matching set I wrote the matching lowercase letters. I alternated sets as I went through the alphabet so that A, B, C, D, E were not all on one card (helps memory to learn out of order too). (I wrote a diagonal line between some like the lowercase "g" since I'd like our children to be able to recognize the "g" of one font and the "g" of another as the same sound and letter (see photo below).

Then I set aside the capital letter sets and cut apart only the lowercase ones so that what your left with is cards to match the lowercase letters with the capitals.

My custom-made Mommy & Baby Letter Match Game used with J. Sierra's book.

How to play our Mommy and Baby Letter Match Game:
You say the name of the letter and tell your child to put the baby letter with the mommy letter (if that's what works with your kid!). Then if they can't find it you give a hint, "It's on the red card," for example (that narrows down their guess to just 4 or 5 letters to choose from). You do this until all are matched and keep track of the ones they needed help with so that you know what to focus on later. We keep the cards in a plastic zipper bag. Claire loved this game and wanted us to find the letters in The Sleepy Little Alphabet book as we went along! Hope this helps your kiddos as much as it's helping Claire. Enjoy!

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