One morning this week we woke up to a bright, colorful kite draped across the trees down the hill. The kite wings had an extensive span and the face smiled at us from the treetops. This photo requires lots of imagination, especially because the wind was quite strong and whole hillside seemed to be quivering. It seemed just right, tho, for one of the alphabet activities. And for talking about phonological awareness, which is the ability to hear and divide words up into their sound bits. It is a fundamental skill for later learning to read. And the Activity is….Letters have names. They also have sounds. This is such an important concept for early learners. Helping them learn this concept can be done anywhere, at any time. “Look, that sign says Park. Park starts with the letter P and P makes a puh sound. Hey, purple starts with that sound, too. What else? Pickle and playground. Any guesses what letter starts pants and pineapple?” Caution: just be careful if you are making a meal and use the word fridge, as in fridge starts with the letter f and what else starts with that same sound? The answer is not always fork. Or fruit. Or for heaven’s sake. Which brings us back to a is for angel. B is for banana. Banana starts with a buh sound. What else starts buh? A great Activity for Anywhere, Anytime. All Aboard.
Motivating a young child to practice printing letters of the alphabet can be quite tricky. Printing is not an easy activity for kids–the necessary muscles and coordination for such fine motor control are still growing. We can spark their interest and help them practice and develop control with activities that have a little challenge and a big appeal. Felts and colors supply the appeal. Parents supply the challenge: on a plain piece of paper and with a dark pencil trace out a few letters of the alphabet , about an inch high, using upper case capitals. Let your munchkin trace the letters using several different colors. At first, just getting them to more or less follow the lines is enough. There’s time later to work on proper letter formation. It’s helpful to start tracing the letters at the top of the letter and gently encourage left to right work. The whole world of writing is at the end of this rainbow!
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 … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – A B C Dough
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 … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Sing to Learn the ABC’s
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