You don’t need all the latest tech-toys to teach your child the ABC’s. One of my favourite tools for teaching the alphabet is good, old-fashioned magnetic letters. They’re not expensive and provide a hands-on activity and lots of face-to-face interaction between you and your child!
Put the magnetic letters on your refrigerator door.
· Start with the lower case letters – a, b, c and so on. Then, later, add the upper case letters. Why? Take a look at a page of print in a book. What do you see more of, upper or lowercase letters? Your child will need to know both to begin to read most efficiently.
· Start with about 3 letters so you don’t overwhelm your child.
· Show your child each letter and say its name. You’ll probably have to do this many times.
· If your child already knows a letter or two, make sure to always include them in a group with one or two new ones. This builds confidence.
· Say the sound the letter makes, too: “This is an ‘a’. It makes the sound ‘a’ as in ‘apple’. A-a-a-apple.”
· Do one new letter a day or every couple of days.
Make your child’s name with magnetic letters. It’s meaningful!
· Use an uppercase magnetic letter for the first letter and lowercase letters for the rest of the name, e.g. Larissa.
· Make the name and tell your child: “This is your name. Larissa.”
· Then ask your child to make his or her name directly below the one you just made. Repeat! And repeat!
· When teaching your child to write his or her name, use an uppercase letter for the first letter, followed by lowercase letters.
· Why? This is the way of convention and it’s the way the pre-school or kindergarten teacher will be teaching your child how to write his or her name. Make is easy for your child by teaching it the right way to begin with!
If your child has a very long name, you can shorten it for now – Christopher can become Chris.
Scramble the magnetic letters of your child’s name.
· Scramble the letters, and ask: Show me an ‘m’, show me a ‘p’, and so on.
· You can still use the refrigerator door for this, or a little magnetic board or cookie baking sheet.
Play a matching game with magnetic letters.
· Buy two sets of magnetic letters, or three sets.
· Make sure you have both upper and lower case letters.
· Put two sets of the same 5 letters up on the refrigerator – a,a,b,b,c,c,d,d,e,e.
· Mix them up.
· You can do fewer letters with a younger child.
· Show your child how to match them in pairs.
· Scramble them again, then, say: “You do it.”
· Try to do it faster.
Play “What’s the Mystery Letter?”
· Once your child has learned some letters, put 5 magnetic letters in a bag or a shoebox with a hole cut in the lid.
· Have your child pull out one letter at a time and say the name of the letter. Tell your child what sound the letter makes – “A” makes the sound “a” as in “apple”.
You can find magnetic letters at toy stores, educational supply stores and even dollar stores.
Always remember not to overwhelm your child with too many letters at any one time, and, most importantly, to praise your child for a job well done.
Your child can learn her ABC’s along with Super Hammy and Little Mouse. Super Hammy ABC – a poster I’ve illustrated, is available from DC Canada Education Publishing.
To purchase the poster, click HERE.