Having toddlers is a lot of fun, but it can also be sort of stressful when you think about having to teach your child. Maybe it’s stressful because you’ve never taught anyone before, maybe it’s stressful because you have no ideas, or maybe it’s just stressful because your toddler is a wild child and you just don’t know where to start.
Whichever one is you, let me reassure you, the only mistake you can make in helping your child with their ABCs is doing nothing at all.
My main concern was how to get my very active toddler interested in learning in the first place, on top of which helping to create something (letter and word knowledge) from nothing. Literally nothing. No background knowledge, no… nothing. It intimidated me.
So, I just took a chance and jumped in. I experimented with a lot of different things, and found out what my child liked best, and what I could best manange. It was worth it. These are just a few fun ideas we did to help our toddler learn his ABCs…
The letters that most children learn and become familiar with first, are the letters of their name! So, put their name on a lot of stuff. Make crafts from their name, write it on sippy cups, find letters in the cereal aisle that are in their name… Anything. Just start pointing out and saying those letters all the time. They’ll love it. And pretty soon they’ll start to recognize not only the letters in their name, but their actual name.
Now, in most classrooms, a word wall is a serious thing and almost a living creature as it grows and changes throughout the year. Yours does not need to be that complicated. For our word wall at home, I took my sons favorite things, and made crafts with them. As he decorated I’d made a sign for his picture and we’d hang it up together. In minutes I could say, hey buddy, what do you think that word is? And he’d spout out, “Doughnut!”
What can I say, they are his favorite food group…
Other fun words we have on our wall include: sun, boat, fish, pizza, apple, etc.
Again, food excites my kid. So I use it.
Get that alphabet up!
This doesn’t have to be fancy, and as you can see by mine, it clearly isn’t. But I wanted a large print of the entire alphabet (on a dime) that we could point to and say the letters, play letter search games, etc.
One of my FAVORITE games is to have my son throw a silly putty/sticky star thing at the alphabet chart. Whatever letter it lands on we would name. Eventually, after playing this game for a while we would try to think of one word that begins with that letter sound. Really fun because guess what, boys like to throw things. Boom, mind blown.
Also, having alphabet puzzles (and alphabet magnets) has been really fun, because most kids like puzzles. As they try to figure out where different letters fit, they are learning about the distinguishing features of each letter, and therefore able to tell them a part more easily. Oh, and it creates 3 minutes of quiet in your home.
There are several letters that are difficult for kids to tell a part. So, to prevent this, I used the top of a box I had, wrote a different difficult letter on each side, and created 3 or so laundry clips that would match each letter. When it was time to play, I took all the clips off and had my son re-clipped them to the correct edge of the box… Clips with ‘O’ go on the ‘O’ edge and so forth… It was a really easy game to make, and I was fascinated at how much it really helped.
A really fun game to play, and also to assess what your child knows is to write the entire alphabet on the ground in chalk. (I only use all caps right now). Put the letters in a random order, and give your child a squirt gun. Each letter they find and name correctly, they can squirt with a gun. The ones that need help, I circle and practice those a little more over the next few days. My child gets confused with K, A, Z, N, and J. But I know where to start! And activities are just one Pinterest click away!
This is a recent activity that I have started. But we have begun a letter of the week, if you will. Each week I pick a letter and this is how we explore it…
Day 1: introduce letter nd sound, and find letter on alphabet chart. Explore items that begin with that sound
Day 2: Remember sound and letter, without looking at objects, try to remember items that began with your letter’s sound. Make a letter craft… ‘C’–paper cookies, ‘S’– paper snake, etc.
Day 3: Review letter, sound and things that begin with that sound, play a letter game that reinforces that letter. (look on Pinterest for letter specific games, and your search is done)
Day 4: Review letter and sound, go to library and find books to borrow. Point out the your focus letter along the way.
Day 5: Play letter hide and seek (letter hidden among other letters or pictures) and eat a snack that begins with that letter sound!
I really thought for a while how I wanted to introduce my letters, which should go first and which should wait. As I researched, I decided to go with a Montessori approach, which allows the introduction of letters and sounds to produce a lot of words, so your child can make a lot of simple words quickly and therefore, begin reading. It has been really good. This is a list of different ways to introduce letters that I’ve gotten from a different site.
s m t a p f c
r b l i g n d
h j k w o u v
y z x q e
Here’s the order suggested in How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin:
First set: c m a t
Second set: s r i p
Third set: b f o g
Fourth set: h j u l
Fifth set: d w e n
Sixth set: k q v x y z
Here’s an order used in some other Montessori schools:
First set: m s a t
Second set: b f o x
Third set: w i g l j
Fourth set: c u p z
Fifth set: h e n r d
Sixth set: v k q y
And here’s another order used by some Montessori schools:
First set: r a m f
Second set: b i t g
Third set: p o n l
Fourth set: h u s c
Fifth set: d e x q y
These are just a few ideas, nothing is perfect, but almost anything will help. I just want my children to have fun, and for most activities to not take longer than 5 minutes. This is right up their alley. I hope you enjoy, and please tell me any of your fun ideas for helping your child with letter recognition!