While we can't deny the power of singing the ABC song ad nauseam, it's not the only way to help your child learn the alphabet. From letter-shaped magnets to alphabet-inspired crafts and games, here are 10 great strategies suggested by Circle of Moms members for introducing your child to the wonders of letters.
1. Letter-shaped Magnets
Alphabet magnets are a great tool for teaching letter recognition. Numerous Circle of Moms members, including Cassie F., specifically recommend the Leapfrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet Set: "There's a base magnet and letters. You input the letters and the base tells what they are and the sound that the letter makes as well as sings a song. My kids both loved it." Other moms, like Annette, recommend magnets that show both a letter and a common object that begins with that letter.
2. “What Starts With ___ ?”
“We play 'what starts (with)___' ALL the time,” shares Teresa in the Moms with School Age Kids Community. “He'll ask me 'what starts (with) B' for example and want me to list word after word after word. I've started making him try to come up (with) some now and give him hints.” She also recommends playing the reverse game: “What does ___ start with?”
3. Alphabet Crafts
“Try doing alphabet crafts with her,” suggests Jeneva W., and many moms agree. Victoria B. suggests creating letters out of Play-Doh, while Melissa R. supplies several more ideas: “If he likes cars, make the letters on paper for him to drive over. If you don't mind messes, put some flour on a cookie sheet and have him write the letters in the flour.”
4. Notice Letters Everywhere
As Ink E. suggests, nearly every environment offers opportunities to point out letters to a child: “When you are walking into Kmart...point out the K...Trace the M on McDonald's door. Point out the D on the dentist's office door. Use his finger to trace the F on the newspaper in front of you. Wherever, whenever.”
5. DVD: The Letter Factory
LeapFrog's The Letter Factory video has recieved tons of praise from Circle of Moms members. Judy L. raves: "I absolutely love the DVD The Letter Factory by LeapFrog. It teaches letter recognition and the sound each letter makes. It is so worth the money!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Phyllis H. also loves the song-based video: "'The Letter Factory' was awesome. The kindergarten teacher here borrowed it from me and now she uses it in class to help the kids with the alphabet."
6. Start with Names
Identifying the letters that spell your child’s name is a great way to introduce letters. As Annette explains: “I found it's easier to start with her name, as it's something personal she can understand.”
7. Letter Toys
To help make learning the ABCs fun, Circle of Moms members have suggested a variety of alphabetic toys, including puzzles with letter-shaped pieces and foam letters to play with during bathtime. As Mikki R. relays: "My son loves puzzles so it was a great way for him to 'accidently' learn while playing."
8. Flash Cards
The repetition of using flashcards can also help teach children the ABCs. Lori T. recalls: "I went to the dollar store and bought inexpensive flash cards that had an object or animal that went with each letter and then worked with my son everyday, a few minutes at a time until he got it."
9. Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
An engaging children’s book with alphabet characters, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a another great tool for teaching letters. Christie B. shares: “It is wonderful for keeping a toddler's attention and there's even a DVD and computer game to further their learning and fun."
10. Keep it Fun
“Keeping it fun is the most important thing," Jenn R. emphasizes. "If you make it a struggle every time obviously they will begin resent it, and that is not the kind of relationship I want my child to have with learning.”