The Alphabet Song. Love it or hate it… is probably one of the first tunes as a parent that makes you realize you had become more Raffi and less Dave Matthews. As you’ve read here and here, I’m not a wild advocate for obvious academics in preschool (read: flashcards and drilling). I believe that children are innately interested in gathering knowledge and decoding the complexities of their surroundings. I also believe that the best literacy tool box to give them isn’t a workbook or a spelling DVD, but things like reading aloud. Things like singing songs and making up silly rhymes to help them gain phonetic agility (i.e. trading the C in C-A-T to make R-A-T.) Things like observing language in your surroundings: Oh look… I see a green sign with the word, exit… lets look for exit 7. And things like playing games where you make 3 sounds and have your child blend them together… <er> + <a> + <t> = rat… these are the building blocks for reading and writing.
A few months ago, Eleanor started asking lots and lots of questions about letter sounds and made the discovery that SHE could sound out words and therefore write and communicate on paper. She’s been hooked ever since. “Mummy, what makes the <oo> sound in Susan?” “Mummy, what does TOLP spell?” Lots of this going on…
I typically defer to her and encourage her to write down whatever she thinks. We’ve started writing down a few of the words that I know she’ll just have to learn one day, but all of this is very much child-driven. I’ve tried to meet her at her level of interest. Well the other day was alphabet day around here… I’ve been trying to think of fun activities that will continue to reinforce Eleanor’s knowledge of letter sounds without taking it to the next level of memorizing words or mindlessly filling in worksheets.
This first activity we did at breakfast when they had a holiday from school. I simply wrote the letters of the alphabet around a paper plate and cut each letter out. When Eleanor saw something starting with that sound, she could fold over the letter on her plate. (Like K for Kix.)
I added the three most common digraphs to her plate (th, ch, and sh) since these are sounds that can be learned just like the regular ol’ alphabet letters.
Eleanor loved looking around the room to find things for each letter. For some of the letters, she was allowed to use her imagination… like Q and X. (She was Queen Elsa, lest you worry that Frozen has left the building over here.)
Oliver wanted in on the action of course… he does NOT know his letter sounds nor does he really care about spelling or writing, but he DOES want to do whatever his big sister does. I tweeked his to have just the letters of his name so pretty appropriate for a 3-year-old.
So to piggy back on Eleanor’s obsession with all things alphabetical, I saw this fun idea on Pinterest and whipped it up one afternoon. Eleanor and I sat down and brainstormed some things around our house that started with each letter of the alphabet. 15 minutes running around with my camera and 30 minutes on PicMonkey, and our alphabet was created…
I printed and laminated and popped them on a ring, and Eleanor now has her own alphabet flip book to enjoy.
I love simple activities that you can riff off of depending upon the mood of the moment. For this alphabet flip book, Eleanor could use a dry erase marker to write the sounds of the rest of the word. I write it this way to be clear that we’re not spelling… for a 5-year-old, my focus is having her listen to and piece together sounds regardless of whether the spelling is correct. E.G. “hed” instead of “head” or “ne” instead of “knee”. (To translate, that note says “Happy Valentine’s Day, Lilah.” Not Happy Valium Day.)
Oliver is just excited to see his stuff in the pictures. He doesn’t get that I took the pictures so every time he sees something he’s all “That’s like MY hat!” Or “I have a train like that!”
For other #wednesdayplayday posts click here! What do you think of these Wednesday posts, incidentally? Liking them? Loving them? Throwing up in your mouth over them?
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