Thursday, June 4, 2009

Picnic Table Talk: Alphabet

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Emma developed an obsession for letters of the alphabet at an early age. She loved letters and knew the entire alphabet (and the sounds most of the letters make) well before her second birthday, in part thanks to the fact that she watched Signing Time Volume 5: ABC Signs DVD and the Leap Frog - Letter Factory DVD. I used to put her to sleep at nap time by singing the alphabet sounds song from the Letter Factory DVD. I don’t think she would have gotten much out of these DVDs if we hadn’t watched them with her and talked about what she was seeing.

We have some foam letters that Emma really enjoys playing with, and I think they have helped her learn her ABCs. Other alphabet-related activities Emma enjoys include:

  • talking about what letters different words start with (she can frequently figure it out based on the sound of the word)
  • Reading out the letters on signs and on packages, mail, etc.
  • Signing letters of the alphabet (she’s still learning how to differentiate some alphabet signs, such as M, N, and T which are very similar)

Emma recognizes a handful of words regardless of font: names of family members, “stop” (from seeing stop signs), and “Costco”. She writes a handful of letters (E, I, O, L, and T). I gave her a letter writing worksheet a while ago thinking she would enjoy learning to write a few new letters (such as M and A, so she could spell out her name), but she got upset when she couldn’t write the letters perfectly (she’s a bit of a perfectionist) so we’ll try that again when she’s a bit older. The letters she does write she started writing on her own, so it’s possible she’ll just add in more letters over time. For now, she seems content to write everything with the five letters she is happy with her penmanship on, or to use “cursive”.

Johnny (who thinks he can do everything his sister can) pretends to read out words and write and sign letters, but I haven’t seen any real letter recognition so far – and I’m pretty sure Emma was older than him when she started recognizing letters. I’m a huge fan of teaching preschoolers primarily by induction and based on their interests at a given time. Emma loved letters but had almost no interest in numbers until recently, so we are only now starting activities around numbers.

Our favorite alphabet book is Z Goes Home by Jon Agee (reviewed here); my kids also love Dr. Seuss's ABC (reviewed here) – especially the alphabet pages on the inside front and back cover!

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