S. has started learning the alphabet, spending a week or so on each letter. She did, after all, just turn 3, so it is high time she start reading her own bedtime stories. Just kidding - that will always be my job. She is a very curious child, though, and since there is no time pressure, it's fun to just play with each letter for as long as it is interesting, then move on. There are soooooooooo many things you can do with each letter, you could really get bogged down if you tried to do everything. An internet search will give you hundreds of blog posts and web sites with activity ideas - so, hey, why not add ours to the mix?!
Some things, we are doing the same with each letter. I have printed out these great coloring pages from About.com, and while she is not into coloring, she will paint most of them. She also loves the dot markers, so I printed out one of the many versions of the alphabet you can find all over the internet (here are some really cute ones from DTLK).
We start a 'word wall' for each letter, just a sheet of paper tacked to the dining room wall, and throughout the week, family members will add words that start with that particular letter. This often happens at meal times, or when we are gathered in that room doing crafts, which is nice - the words are more often relevant to what is going on, and we get anything from "cow" to "catastrophe" (see tomorrow's Nascar Snacks post to see what brought the word "catastrophe" into the conversation).
When we are finished with the letter, I copy each word neatly onto another sheet of paper, with S. watching me write as we talk about each word. Then she gets to go through my big sticker box and find anything that matches. Stickers are HUGE with S. right now, so this is a highly motivational end product.
|She decided this should go on Daddy's computer cabinet for a while. And, yes, you do see the word "boobies" in there.|
Cutting and pasting are also big, so we go through newspapers or magazines to find the week's letter, and glue samples to another page.
We try to do some cooking/baking to go with each letter. I posted earlier about our "A" pastries. For "B", biscuits ruled breakfast for a while, and as Cookie Monster says, "C is for Cookie"!
I absolutely love the Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool site, although it takes my computer forever to download the page sometimes. We watch most of the videos (usually while dancing), but not all of the art projects (we have others we do instead). I love that she starts each letter with a Google image search, and C. and I spend a lot of time asking her, "Which B is red? Which B is made of balls?" We know that, every time a child sees a particular shape, it strengthens that pathway in their brain, and this is a really fun and easy way to do that.
We are also finding different ways to build each letter on our living room floor. For "A", we used our bodies:
For "B", books!
We haven't decided how to do "C" yet.
I also write the letters on her bunk bed, and each night we trace them and talk about words that start with each letter (this has become one of her newest stalling techniques, so I have to put a number limit on them now.)
Upper and lower case letters can get confusing, so I made a matching game today, using some plastic Easter eggs. One side has the uppercase, the other the lower case,
and she simply has to match them together:
daddy gave me this giant box of chocolates for Christmas, and I couldn't stand to throw the box away - I knew it could be used for SOMEthing - and, here it is! Besides, "candy" starts with "C".
There are other things we do differently with each letter, to keep things from getting too routine. For "C", for example, we are planning to visit with some neighbors who raise cows. I am also going to teach her to use my smaller camera, and let her take pictures of things that start with "C". For "B", we sorted buttons, went out to breakfast, and went to see some friends whose last name started with "B".
For each letter, I have three goals, in order of importance right now:
1. Letter recognition - as long as she can identify the upper and lower case version of each one, I figure we're good. She's only three!
2. Sound recognition - I want her to be able to tell me what sound each letter makes (going for short vowel sounds and hard consonants for now), and be able to pck out which words start with that sound. The latter is more difficult than the former, so we're just introducing it and not going for mastery - she's only three!
3. Writing each letter. She has pretty good hand-eye coordination, but a capital "B" is still kind of tricky for little hands. For some reason, she does better on the Etch-a-Sketch than with a pencil/marker/crayon. This is another we are just introducing, because...she's only three!
Having a smart kid can backfire if you start expecting them to learn everything right away. I see it happen sometimes at the library - we start off making learning fun, but our adult mind wants to see the same results every time, and it becomes an expectation with negative consequences. I watched a mother a couple weeks ago getting upset with her toddler, because the girl wanted to play with puppets rather than do flashcards. The child wasn't even potty trained! Learning and exploring are great, but just because your child is ahead of his peer group now, doesn't mean he still will be in fourth grade - especially if you have made learning something he has to do, rather than wants to.
Mini-soapbox-lecture done! Stay tuned for ideas to go with the rest of the alphabet! Unless we stop having fun. Then, you're on your own.