When Henry turned two I decided to start teaching him the alphabet. I’d kept his letter learning pretty low key up until then, other than pointing them out when we were out walking or at home reading books or doing puzzles.
Then one day I found an alphabet sponge kit at Spotlight. I knew that mixing mess with learning would totally be Henry’s thing. Home we went so I could put on my teacher’s hat and act like Mrs Enthusiastic, ready to wow my wee one with my extensive knowledge of all 26 letters.
As soon as I had set up all the letters and paints, he started picking up letters, spouting off what they were (accurately!) and then dropping each one down on the table like it was a microphone and he’d just won a rap battle.
I had to laugh. My ‘introduction’ to the alphabet had come a bit late. I was partly proud – all that rabbiting on while we were out had worked (suck on that all the people who looked at me like I was deranged) but I was partly ashamed, knowing that he’d also watched his Elmo’s Alphabet DVD a biiit too much.
Now my little baby genius knows most of the letters and can sing the alphabet song, although sometimes he can still be wildly inaccurate. There are favourite letters he’ll never forget, like P (not a good sign!) and X, which he pronounces ‘ek’. And there are others he seems unable to recognise like that tricky M, which he calls ‘another W’.
I want to build on his skills while keeping it casual and enjoyable – trick him into thinking we’re just playing while the sweet knowledge seeps in. So I found five fun new ways to teach the alphabet:
- This is my fave because it incorporates outside fun. The ABC Architecture Scavenger Hunt (pictured) means you can get out and about with your little ones, with learning on the side. You could expand this activity by getting the kids to photograph their finds to refer to later. From kcedventures.com.
- Play Alphabet Splash – write the alphabet on a fence with chalk, fill up water guns or spray bottles and get kids to ‘shoot’ the letters you call out. From teachmama.com.
- Incorporating second hand stuff (yay!) – get a bunch of old matchbox cars (I’m still to find a good haul from the op shops I frequent) and write letters on them, asking the kids to pick the right letter, or line them all up in order. This could even be used for spelling simple words with older kids.
- Get crafty and paint up 26 rocks in pretty designs with a letter on each. This is a win from all angles because there’s time spent gathering rocks (my son is nuts about this basic activity!) time spent painting them and then a cool, colourful way to learn the alphabet when they’re done.
- Have a ‘Letter of the Day’ which you cut out of their sandwich. This one is so cute! Much easier with cookie cutters but until I invest in them, I’m going to just hack away and hope for the best.