Alphabet exercises as easy as ABC!
Some children are “fast learners” of the alphabet and pick it up easily, but only 5% of kindergarteners fall into this category. Most kids need a bit of extra help and repeated exposure, especially with letters that can be easily confused for each other, such as b and d, or p and q. Here are some fun ways to reinforce alphabet learning.
Alphabet soup is just one way to eat letters. You can drizzle pancake batter into letter shapes. Cut a sandwich or a piece of fruit into a letter. Shape licorice strands into the letters of your child’s name. Or arrange carrot sticks or raisins into letter shapes.
Visual and sensory experiences can provide compelling reinforcements to learning the letters. Fill a pan with amaterial that might interest your child, such as dry beans, rice, flour, dirt or shaving cream. Let your learner explore and describe the texture. Then write letters into the pan and erase by shaking or patting the material.
There’s an app for that!
Cheap or free ABC apps are readily available. Some are just letter recognition, while others let little fingers trace letters on the phone. Some have a preschooler talking; others let you record your own or your child’s voice. During road trips or waits at the doctor’s office, playing with mom’s phone is a treat that sneaks in extra learning.
The “Handwriting Without Tears” curriculum breaks down letter formation into shapes: short and long straight lines, and small and big half circles. These shapes fit together to form all the capital letters. You can buy wooden cutouts of the shapes or make your own with stiff cardboard or thick foam sheets. “At the beginning, you can match the pieces to a model on a card so there are good learning cues for formation and motor planning,” says early childhood occupational therapist Mindy Huston.
Wetter, better letters
When your child wants to practice writing his own letters, start with a chalkboard and a short piece of chalk. Begin by writing a letter on the board yourself. Have your child erase it with a finger dipped in water and then trace over the letter. Use this exercise to show and practice the proper stroke formation of letters (left to right, up to down). You can also use a paintbrush dipped in water, which helps teach proper pencil grasp. When your child is ready, let him write the letter and erase it.
Writing letters home
Write a letter on a large, colorful sheet of paper. Display it in a prominent place. For several days, ask your child to tell you what letter that is. Talk about the sound the letter makes and find things that have the sound in it. You can do this with up to five letters in different places, switching letters once one is mastered.
Using these ideas, my daughter is well on her way to recognizing all the letters, and she is having a great time doing it.
Daisy Wakefield is a freelance writer.