Put on a jacket. We’re going for a walk around the alphabet. For children to really learn a new concept, it is helpful to input the information in all manner of ways. To learn the alphabet children need to hear it, say it, sing it, feel it, manipulate it, roll it, and more and do these things over and over and over. For another way to experience it, take an alphabet walk. I like to introduce this by reading the book Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson.
If you do not have the book, notice something in your neighborhood that makes a letter of the alphabet. Go for a walk and see what else you can find. Take a list of the letters and mark each one off as you find it. STOP signs are good for 4 letters. Some house trim looks like L’s and K’s. An upright and top for a fence could be a T. Find a few today, save the list, and soon those letters will be popping up all over the place. A-maZing, isn’t it?
Not all children are interested in school-type work. Learning the letters of the alphabet does not appeal to all kids. But there are ways to engage reluctant children in learning activities. Hands-on materials capture attention and motivate. Voices practiced letters of the alphabet, yesterday. Today, fingers get a turn. Play-dough or plasticine are just right. Did you know that one lump of play-dough can make all the letters of the alphabet? Amazing! Beautiful! Clever! D…you get the idea. Roll some long shapes and bend them to make the letters–the capital or upper case ones, first. Doing all 26 at a time requires a great deal of patience so break the task up into a few letters now and more later. Make some favorite letters. One time, do the letters round. Another day, do them again and make them flat. Sometimes skinny, sometimes fat, sometimes plain, or fancy.. like that. Learning the letters is easier when it’s fun.
When children arrive in kindergarten and throughout the year, they will be doing all kinds of alphabet activities with their teachers. Children who have some familiarity with letters and sounds even before starting school are much more capable to tackle these tasks. Some programs assess children’s alphabet knowledge as part of evaluating readiness for school. For the next few days, I’ll highlight some alphabet activities that you can do at home as part of whatever you are already doing. These will help you prepare your child for kindergarten.
Here is a super easy idea to get you started. Sing the ABC song. Now, add some fun and reinforce the learning–sing it using a Papa Bear voice, deep and growly. Squeak it in a baby bear voice. Try a robot voice and march all stiff like one when you sing it. Make scary faces and use a cackly witch voice. Take a deep breath and let it out like opera. Imagine an air guitar and jump around like a rock star–isn’t that right, Mr. Craig Duswalt? Dance around and let the letters fly in the air. At bathtime, bubble and sing. Adding a few yawns and a sleepy voice can even turn it into a bedtime lullaby. This doesn’t all need to be done on the same day!! The intent is to learn and have fun at the same time and maximize your child’s chance for kindergarten success.
Motivating children to want to learn about all those squiggles on a page and what they mean can be done by cooking together. Here’s a fun recipe to make mud that good enough to eat! Measure into the blender 1 cup of milk, 1/2 banana, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and 2 or 3 ice … Continue reading Yummy Mud
Writing experiences can start before children are independently reading. A fundamental concept for learning to read is the understanding that print is a kind of talking written down. The squiggles on the page carry meaning. The earlier mud activities, walking in the rain to see puddles, talking about them, playing with muddy-colored play-dough, listening to … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Once Upon a Mud Puddle
Playdough is a super learning tool. It is inexpensive and can be made right at home. My favorite recipe is the cooked kind but I have successfully made the dough that uses boiling water. Mix up a batch. Combine yellow and red coloring to make orange and add a drop or two of blue to … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Batch of Mud
Of all the activities that parents and caregivers can do to get children ready for school, reading books and stories with them is the most important! Since we’re talking about mud, here are a few of my favorite muddy books. Pigs in the Mud, in the Middle of the Rud by Lynn Plourde Puddleman by … Continue reading Mud Books
Yesterday, we walked outside to observe puddles. Today, those same puddles will help kids learn some new vocabulary. Were the puddles deep or shallow, big or small, wide or narrow? What other words will tell us about puddles? Splishy and splashy, murky or flashy. Here’s a poem about puddles: Rain, rain, falls on the street. … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Puddle Vocab and Poetry
After April Showers, the rain leaves great puddles. Yes, puddles can be another learning opportunity–but stay out of the road so you don’t become part of one! Next time it rains, go for a walk and check out all the different shapes. Are puddles round or square? Maybe, their shapes look like something else: a … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – April Showers and Mud Puddles
With the family coming home for Easter, I dug out some of the decorations that the kids, almost in theirthirties, expect to see. I remembered some of the things that I used to do, too. Growing up on a farm, there was lots of family members that gathered and where to sit everybody was a … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Early Writing