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Picnic Table Talk: Alphabet

Emma developed an obsession for letters of the alphabet at an early age. She loved letters and knew the entire alphabet (and the sounds most of the letters make) well before her second birthday, in part thanks to the fact that she watched Signing Time Volume 5: ABC Signs DVD and the Leap Frog – Letter Factory DVD. I used to put her to sleep at nap time by singing the alphabet sounds song from the Letter Factory DVD. I don’t think she would have gotten much out of these DVDs if we hadn’t watched them with her and talked about what she was seeing.

We have some foam letters that Emma really enjoys playing with, and I think they have helped her learn her ABCs. Other alphabet-related activities Emma enjoys include:

  • talking about what letters different words start with (she can frequently figure it out based on the sound of the word)
  • Reading out the letters on signs and on packages, mail, etc.
  • Signing letters of the alphabet (she’s still learning how to differentiate some alphabet signs, such as M, N, and T which are very similar)

Emma recognizes a handful of words regardless of font: names of family members, “stop” (from seeing stop signs), and “Costco”. She writes a handful of letters (E, I, O, L, and T). I gave her a letter writing worksheet a while ago thinking she would enjoy learning to write a few new letters (such as M and A, so she could spell out her name), but she got upset when she couldn’t write the letters perfectly (she’s a bit of a perfectionist) so we’ll try that again when she’s a bit older. The letters she does write she started writing on her own, so it’s possible she’ll just add in more letters over time. For now, she seems content to write everything with the five letters she is happy with her penmanship on, or to use “cursive”.

Johnny (who thinks he can do everything his sister can) pretends to read out words and write and sign letters, but I haven’t seen any real letter recognition so far – and I’m pretty sure Emma was older than him when she started recognizing letters. I’m a huge fan of teaching preschoolers primarily by induction and based on their interests at a given time. Emma loved letters but had almost no interest in numbers until recently, so we are only now starting activities around numbers.

Our favorite alphabet book is Z Goes Home by Jon Agee (reviewed here); my kids also love Dr. Seuss’s ABC (reviewed here) – especially the alphabet pages on the inside front and back cover!

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

12 thoughts on “Picnic Table Talk: Alphabet”

  1. I really regret not doing signing with ER! I even happen to know quite a few signs from teaching special ed! Oh well, next child!

  2. @Kara – Thanks for the link to the Handwriting Worksheets Wizard – looks great!

    @Annette – My kids are 17 months and nearly 3.5 years old.

    @Holly – I love your son's strategy for writing MOM, excellent problem solving :)

  3. teachingyoungchildren

    It was fascinating for me to read your review of what Emma can do, since she is a little older than Anna. Anna will only be 3 in October, and so far she is not interested at all in writing. As you mentioned, my girl is also a bit of perfectionist and doesn't want to do anything if there is a chance she won't do it well enough. I loved your cursive – how very inventive!

  4. Holly@MotherIsNotConcerned

    I love the cursive. My 6-year-old sometimes pretends to write in cursive (and in Russian, which he doesn't know).

    My 3-year-old can write most of his letters, but he refuses to write Ms, so to write MOM he writes WOW and then turns it upside down…

  5. Thanks for the book recommendation. Z Goes Home is one I haven't seen before. We'll have to check it out!

  6. Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog

    I remember the Letter Factory DVD was one of Emily's favorites too. She would keep asking to watch it over and over. Funny how those songs get stuck in your head!

  7. Katie, Kevin and kids

    Thanks for the review of Z Goes Home. I actually haven't ever read that one. I am jealous that you got to live in Scotland!! I bet you have amazing memories and pictures. I hope some day I am able to bring my own family there to visit.

  8. When Emma's ready to try the worksheets again, I've been printing some off for Abby from Handwriting Worksheets Wizard – I like it because I can customize the style and the text, so she likes to practice on worksheets that say things like "I Love Daddy" and then give them to Daddy.

  9. We are always look for new books. Will have to check out Z Goes Home! Looks really cute. Thanks for the recommendation.

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