|This post originally appeared on Muddy Little Toes where I was previously a co-contributor.|
One of the first songs I remember singing to my daughter was the alphabet song. I’d sing it while changing diapers, in the car, during bath time, waiting for dinner…pretty much all the time. When she was about 20 months, she started singing the song on her own with a little help here and there. By the time she turned 2 years old, she knew the song and could recognize some letters (mostly the ones in her name). Currently, she is 3 (turning 4 in January) and she knows all the letters by sight, can write about half of them, and knows 3/4 of them by sound. I’m not telling you this to toot my horn or say that I’m a great teacher when it comes to letters. But there are some tools I’ve used that have proven to be successful for my daughter, and my son is starting to catch on as well (he is 18 months). Check out the list below and see if anything catches your eye!
Sing the ABCsI mentioned this one already, but I wanted to include it as part of the list. This is the simplest way to expose your kids to the alphabet. Most babies and young children like songs and music and catch on quickly. Even if you only sing the ABCs anytime you change their diaper and they’ll hear it at least 5 times a day.
Watch Sesame Street alphabet videos
Say what you will about letting small children watch tv, but it was something that I allowed my daughter to watch for maybe 10-15 minutes a day when I needed to distract her while I got dinner ready or used the bathroom or straightened up the house. I wanted to make sure that any exposure she had was educational, so I simply subscribed to the Sesame Street channel on YouTube and let her watch alphabet videos and other songs. Before long, she’d ask for the “elemeno” song and would try to sing along.
Sidewalk Chalk (3 variations)
- In Order: Write the alphabet out on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk. I got into a habit of doing this almost every time we went into our backyard in the summer (starting when my daughter was about 18 months). She didn’t pick up on a lot at the beginning but just seeing the letters consistently helped her recognize them more easily as she got older.
- Mixed Up: Write all the letters of the alphabet on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk. Then quiz your child on where any given letter is. This is an activity to be used once your child is older, probably 3+. It stimulates them mentally and physically since they are walking/running to each letter.
- Trace Letters: Write all the letters out on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk. Give your child some chalk and help them trace the letters as you tell them what the letter is. Not only does this expose them to the letters, but it also helps strengthen their fine motor skills which are important for activities like writing.
This is really just another way to help introduce letters to your child. It is fun for them because the get to color in the bathtub, but it’s also an opportunity to teach them where they (generally) won’t run away from you. You could do all of the same activities as you would with bath crayons as you do with the sidewalk chalk.
Foam Bath Letters
Foam bath letters are similar to bath crayons but nice because the are reusable and cheaper than bath crayons. The same activities used with chalk and crayons can be used with these as well.
I bought some inexpensive letter magnets from the dollar store and wrote out the alphabet on a piece of construction paper and stuck it to the fridge. Then I gave my daughter the letter magnets and told her to find the letter that matched the one I had written and place it on top. She loved this activity and has asked me to do it multiple times.
This is kind of a no-brainer, but alphabet books are awesome tools to help your child learn their letters. My kids love the ones that have the letter and objects that start with that letter surrounding it. I think it’s a good way to help them make an early connection between letters and reading and the objects around us.
When you feel comfortable letting your child use markers, a white board is a good indoor activity to use to help your child practice recognizing, tracing and writing letters. (We’ve also used our white board for shapes and numbers.)
Letters of Their Name
The first letters my daughter became familiar with were the letters in her name. I would write her name over and over and we’d practice saying each letter. She got to the point where she could recognize those letters in books, on signs, cereal boxes, etc.
Pencil/Pen and Paper
Recently, my daughter has been asking for pen/pencil and paper to practice her letters. Sometimes we’ll write the alphabet and other times we’ll write words or names. We started with her name and we’ve expanded to writing my son’s name, “mom” and “dad”. This is another activity that helps strengthen their fine motor skills.
Once your child hits about age 3-4, letting them watch the videos put out by Leap Frog may be something you want to look into. They cover everything from letters to numbers to reading. I really like them because they are simple, straightforward and they use music to supplement the learning, which kids love. My two favorites are Letter Factory and The Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park.
Another activity we’ve been doing recently with my daughter is using the game Bananagrams to quiz her on letters. We also spell words with the letters or ask her to spell some of the words she knows. It’s just another activity to help with letter recognition.
I hope you found something that you think will help your child learn their alphabet! Keep in mind that all kids learn at different rates and what works for my kids might not work for yours. But I think the key is consistency. If you are working with your child on a fairly regular basis, they will catch on eventually and at their own pace.
What have you done with your kids to help them learn their alphabet letter and sounds? I’d love to hear your ideas!