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a is for alphabet

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A is for Alphabet!

The alphabet is the beginning — not the beginning of learning because that starts on day one through the senses and play — but it is the pathway towards literacy.  It all starts at Aa through Zz.

Every child learns at a different pace.  While one child may recite all of his letters at 18 months, another may be still learning them at 3 or 4 years of age.  We must meet the learner at their unique level and give them the proper tools to set them up for success.

My almost-three-year-old is still working through his uppercase letters.  I am glad that, while I expose him to all stages of literacy learning, I only expect him to learn his uppercase letters right now.

Think about it, as a blank slate, learning all of the uppercase and lowercase letters:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Recognizing, printing, and sounding out all of the uppercase and lowercase letters is a huge task for little minds.  

In my series {Early Literacy Stages}, I have many suggestions for teaching your child his alphabet.  These stages are not listed by age-level, but rather by skill-level for the individual learner.  Here are the stages (click on the links below to see more suggestions and resources for learning!):

1.  Uppercase letter recognition

There is debate surrounding whether children should be taught uppercase or lowercase letters first.  Some teachers opt to teach them together.  I believe that children should be taught recognition of uppercase letters first.  While children should certainly be exposed to lowercase while learning to master uppercase, the focus should be on uppercase.  We call them “big” and “little” letters.  My decision to teach uppercase first is based on the following reasoning:

  • learning 26 letters will set your child up for success sooner than trying to learn 52 letters,
  • uppercase letters are more distinguishable from one another,
  • uppercase letters have many more straight lines, so when it comes time to begin printing letters, children can excel, and
  • uppercase letters represent the majority of letters in print outside the home (on street signs, in the grocery store, etc), so learning these will expose your child to a world of print outside the home.

There are many tools you can use and activities you can do with your child to teach them the alphabet.  I recommend focusing on one letter at a time, perhaps doing a “letter a week” and focusing on learning through play.  Here is a sensory bin for letter G:

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2.  Tactile uppercase letter writing

Tactile experiences surrounding a particular letter allows your child to use his senses to learn, recognize, and remember his letters.  We like to create our letters while using shaving cream, sand, sugar, squishy bags, push-pin pens, do a dot markers, and more!

Here is my son practicing making curved and straight lines (and getting very messy in the process!):

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3.  Utensil prewriting and uppercase letter writing

When it comes time to write uppercase letters, a proper sequential order is needed to set your child up for success in handwriting.  All of the alphabet letters include either straight lines, diagonal lines, and/or big and little curves, and they should be taught in an order that make sense.  You can find resources in my post and read more about letter sequencing, but here is the order recommended (as written in the wonderful Handwriting Without Tears curriculum):

      • Vertical & Horizontal Lines: L, F, E, H, T, I, U

      • Magic C: C, O, Q, G, S, J

      • Big & Little Curves: D, P, B

      • Diagonal Lines: R, K, A, V, M, N, X, Y, Z

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4.  Lowercase letter recognition

1plus1plus1equals1 has created an A – Z list of {free!} printable packs that can aid in learning the alphabet, so check her list out to find something with your child’s interests!

There are many tools you could make or purchase (or make for a low cost at home!) to further your child’s recognition of lowercase letters — these letters appear most in print.  This Lauri A to Z Lowercase Crepe Rubber Puzzle is such a great learning tool.  It is a puzzle with soft, squishy letters for little hands to remember the feel of the letter — and its little picture behind the letters help children to correlate a beginning sound with the lowercase letter.

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5.  Lowercase phonetic sounds

Children can learn the sounds that letters make from the beginning.  If you are working on the letter Aa — you may focus on an apple or alligator for the week.  And for Bb — you may focus on a ball or a bear.  You may not notice at first, but slowly, these objects will become correlated with the letters in your little one’s mind, and the sounds will come! You can help this learning with an object box!

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We have an alphabet box at home to aid in learning the letters’ sounds.  Each letter has a drawer, and each drawer contains several objects that begin with that sound.  Check out my post on our Montessori Alphabet Box to learn more about how you can make your own!

If you are looking for curriculum, we plan on utilizing My Father’s World for Kindergarten.  Alpha-Phonics and How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Lessons are, also, both excellent, inexpensive, and phonics-based curriculums.  We also plan on supplementing using the excellent Explode the Code phonics workbooks.  (My mom taught me to read using Alpha-Phonics!  Sometimes sticking with time-tested materials is best!)

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6.  Lowercase letter writing

Again, I highly recommend the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.  This helps your child learn the letters through writing in a logical sequence.

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There are so many creative ways to teach the alphabet to our young ones.  Here is a short list of further resources I have found helpful:

Top 10 Ways to Remember the ABCs from Fantastic and Fun Learning

Laundry Letters from My Joy Filled Life

Alphabet {Free!} Printables and All ABCs from 1plus1plus1equals1

A-Z Review from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Alphabet Learning through Play from Little Bins for Little Hands

 

…English is a very complicated language… and it’s sometimes silly.

If you haven’t heard the hilarious “Crazy ABCs” song from the Barenaked Ladies childrens’ album “Snacktime” to point out all the irregularities in our crazy language, here it is on YouTube, just for fun!  And a handful of the crazy lyrics:

“A is for aisle, B is for bdellium, C is for czar…

You know everybody knows apple, ball and cat
I wanted to get into some, you know some stranger words…

D is for djinn, E for Euphrates…

G for gnarly, I for irk, H is for hour
J for jalapeños, good in either corn or flour…”

How have you taught your child the alphabets?  What activities/ tools/ curriculums did you find most helpful?

 

Amy writes at Wildflower Ramblings, a homeschool blog she started when she became a mother.  Amy obtained her Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan and is a former Kindergarten teacher.  She lives with her husband and three children.  You can find Amy on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.  

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