I never sat down and said, “I’m going to teach my girls the alphabet.” They’ve had a pretty good working knowledge of it for a long time now, which I largely attribute to a handful of books and a couple of puzzles.
When the girls were a little more than two, they got really interested in puzzles…the wooden ones with the chunky block pieces. After they’d mastered the handful of animal puzzles we had, I found a couple of great alphabet puzzles. They first conquered this uppercase one.
I’m sure at first they were just filling in the slots by shape, but after a while of me cheering, “Yeah! You just found the ‘S’!” or “Only two letters left…who wants to put in the ‘R’?” they started naming letters on t-shirts and signs. I’ll never forget Baby A galloping past the dishwasher, barely slowing as she called out, “B-O-S-C-H!”
I later introduced this puzzle, which helped the girls learn their lower-case letters.
In addition to puzzles, we have been reading several alphabet books, such as Dr. Seuss’s ABC and B is for Bear, since the girls were teeny-tiny. Curious George’s ABCs is my very favorite, since the illustrations show the letter drawn into a picture.
Starting when the girls were about 21 months old, they have been able to fill in the blanks with many of their favorite books. All I have to say is, “Big B, little b, what begins with B?” and they easily spout off, “Barber, baby, bubbles, and a bumblebee!” [The entire line came later than 21 months, of course, but that marked the start of their completing sentences from books.]
Finally, one of our favorite children’s CDs has a great A-B-C song. After a few standard renditions, it names one word that begins with each letter of the alphabet. “A, apple…B, boy…C, cat…D, dog…” The girls have known that song for quite a while, too.
So…where are we now???
At 3 ½, I think the girls have a pretty good start on pre-reading skills. The know all their letters – upper- and lower-case – and they are also pretty good at identifying the sounds different letters make.
“Mommy, what does ‘happy’ start with?”
I can feed them a couple of clues…”a HOUSE on a HILL”…or ”HUNGRY HORSE, HEN in HAT”…and they’ll proudly proclaim, “H!!!”
I’m challenging them now by asking them, “What do YOU think it starts with?”
Just another progression…fitting the pieces together…making it fun. There again, I don’t think they realize they’re learning!