I am almost reluctant to remind families about using magnetic letters as a tool to help children learn the alphabet. Even though it has been years and years, I remember one pre-supper ‘arsenic hour’, when I gave my daughter a few letters to amuse her while I worked in the kitchen. Somehow, one of the letters got caught between the door and the fridge, the door didn’t close, swung back open, causing my daughter to lose her balance and fall on her baby brother. Supper was late. However, magnetic letters are a good resource. Children not only need to learn 26 letters of the alphabet, they really have to learn 52 with both upper close and lower case. In any case, (deliberate word play) starting off with just upper case letters is easier. Speaking of fridges, what letter of the alphabet is a vegetable? The letter P(ea).
Each of us has a preferred learning style. Some people are visual learners, some are auditory and others are kinesthetic. People with a visual learning style prefer seeing or reading about something new; auditory learners like explanations and stories; kinesthetics need hands-on manipulating and feeling. This is very over-simplified. In reality, we learn using all three ways and some tasks are more suited to one method than others. But we all know friends and coworkers who respond better to memos and emails, others whose mailboxes are over-full but love to chat, and those who need first-hand experiences. Children have learning preferences, too. New ideas need to be presented in a variety of formats to both appeal to their strengths and to expand their strategies. That’s why we sing the alphabet, read books, play listening games, and manipulate play-dough. Here’s another idea, that combines all 3. This abc puzzle is hands-on, very visual and kids can practice saying the letters, too. I picked it up at a dollar store. The pieces fit snugly, at first, but are quite small so a container with a lid may help. In any case, it’s easy to do together and 3 times the fun.
Motivating a munchkin to practice letters is no trick when the medium is so yummy. Mix up a batch of chocolate pudding, put a couple of spoonfuls onto a big plastic plate or container lid and write away. Licks are allowed.
While you are mixing it up, you can take advantage of having close attention and work on letter sounds: “Pudding starts with the sound ‘puh’. If I say pudding and pineapple, do those words start the same? How about pudding and milk? Do pudding and pink start the same or different?” The skill of dividing words into their sound bites (pardon the Pun) is called phonological awareness and is critical for learning to read. Not all children learn to do this on their own and such word games help them develop this crucial concept. The pudding is probably all prepared to pop onto a plate and practice. YUM!
Another of my favorite books to share with kids is the I Spy Alphabet book. I must confess that I am not very good at finding the hidden pictures but I love to spend a few minutes searching. I feel so clever when I do locate a few. And kids enjoy the books, too. … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Eye Spy the Alphabet
Wait…before you throw out or recycle all those flyers and unwanted mail, mine them for all those learning treasures. Empty cereal boxes and other packages are great resources, too. Put a few on a safe surface and let your little ones cut out any letters they want. They can choose favorite letters, random ones or … Continue reading To B or not to B
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 … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – A is for Angel in a Tree
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 … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Rainbow Letters
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 … Continue reading Kindergarten Activities – Walk Around the Alphabet
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