Friday, November 11, 2011

Teaching the Alphabet

I've been avoiding teaching Jett the letters of the alphabet since he's learning to sight read first and learning the actual letter names are unnecessary, just rote memory and not important to learning how to read. But I have been teaching him the phonetic sounds early on. Inevitably, through various books and songs, he's learned to recognize and verbalize ten letters of the alphabet before I've even gotten a chance to consider formerly teaching him! I wonder how many other letters he knows but can't verbalize? (I have a feeling that it's all of them.) He's 21 months old. 

Note: I soon found out that he did know all of his alphabet and soon after could also can sing the whole alphabet song with me only inputting and not requesting participation. Also at 33 months old, (12/10/12) we realized that he could verbalize words that we spelled out loud! My husband, Kenny, and I were talking about Kay, Jett's neurodevelopmentalist, and Jett said, "Kay -- K-- K-a-t Kat!" We thought that was funny because he's been saying M is for Mommy and D is for Daddy A is for Across etc. for a while on his own. But this was the first time he tried to spell something out loud. So Kenny said, "M-o-m-m-y" and Jett said "Mommy!" Same for Daddy, Alex, Kathy, pillow, milk, pizza, Grammy, bread etc. and he got them all right! It's amazing what input (and supplementation for brain support) can do!

At 3 years, 4 months, he initiates and enjoys playing the "'A' is for..." game, which he can easily do for every letter of the alphabet. He does try to spell on his own from time to time and gets awfully close. I don't push this at all, I just let him play with the idea of spelling and just correct him as he goes.

Using the Doman reading method, Jett naturally learned the lower case letters of the alphabet just through reading and flash cards. He learned the upper case naturally as well, since he saw them used in sentences in books. Once he had figured out the phonetic alphabet and the alphabet letters, he figured out cursive completely on his own with no help from me by 23 months.
This is what I did (written when he was 21 months old):

-Verbalize all the letter SOUNDS of the alphabet with a corresponding high-interest word. When I'm feeding him or in the car, I go through the alphabet like this: "" "Bah...ball" etc. He really enjoys this and smiles when I do it. (He loves any face time, really.) I don't wait for him to respond, I just input.

- We read several alphabet books that follow the Doman criteria for books for young readers:
The Dog from Arf to Zzzz by Harper Collins Publishing 

Dr. Seuss's ABC An Amazing Alphabet Book! Make sure you don't get the little board book because the words are too small. I read this very quickly and it keeps Jett at full attention and interested.

A is for Apple, an alphabet slide book by Allied Publishing Group. I slide each one so that just the letter shows. I verbalize it and then let Jett slide the picture over the letter to reveal the corresponding word. Then I read that word and we go to the next one.

Zoe and the Runaway Ball is part of the Sesame Street alphabet series by Reader's Digest Young Families. They are written by Diane C. Ohanesian with pictures by David Prebenna. Each book features a letter. And every time the letter appears, it is in magenta. The words are a little smaller than I'd like, but Jett is able to see them fine.

and most recently, we got: 
Learn to Write Your Letters by Priddy Books. This book is sold at Kohl's but we got it for 20 cents at the local library book sale. I sit him in my lap and I trace the letters with the dry erase marker. Then I let him do it when he wants to. He loves this!
-Several of these books have the full alphabet written down. Every time we read the book, I sing the alphabet song to him and point to each letter. Just more input.

-We have alphabet flash cards called "B is for Ball" that is part of the A+ series by Dalmation Press. One side has the upper and lower case letter nice and big and the other side has a word and a picture of something that starts with that letter. I just started using them today, that's how I discovered that Jett already can verbalize ten of them!

-He has an alphabet quilt that stays on the floor in his play area (happens to be the library as well) and I'm making a textile alphabet book and we've bought him the Melissa & Doug wooden, magnetic uppercase alphabet letters and board. We haven't given it to him yet since it'll be a Christmas present. I'll also be getting him a wooden alphabet puzzle (hopefully from a garage sale!).

We haven't done this yet, but the School Sparks Blog has an Alphabet Parade. Each Wednesday, a new letter is introduced. The letter includes six worksheets designed to help introduce your child to the sound the letter makes, how to identify the showcased letter in a word, and how to write the uppercase and lowercase versions of the letter, plus fun activity suggestions for helping your child more quickly learn about the letter.

So Jett learned his alphabet in this natural, as in logical, progression building one skill upon another: 
  1. word flash cards (until he figured out how to read phonetically)
  2. reading books aloud to him
  3. using phonetic sounds of the alphabet, verbally
  4. reading the letters of the alphabet phonetically, "A" is "ah" for instance
  5. reading names of the lower case with some upper case letters (which he actually learned most on his own just from lots of exposure and input)
  6. upper case (again, one his own)
  7. cursive (on his own)
To support learning the alphabet, learning how to read and beginning handwriting, I recommend the short, fun videos your can watch on youtube from the channel. Jett really enjoys them. I use them as a reward for things Jett doesn't want to do.

For how I taught Jett to read, see Teaching Your Baby to Read. Then see Handwriting Resources for what we are presently doing.
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1 comment:

Laura said...

Wow! What a little sponge Jett is soaking up all of the information he can get!

We also did not intentionally teach letters or numbers, but K taught herself with the Leapfrog Word Whammer & Love & Learning.