Our preschool at home consists of lots of play: outdoor play, creative play, and playing with letters and numbers. I’m not planning on teaching Miss to read anytime soon (you can read about that here), but Charlotte Mason recommended that young children learn their letters through play, so that’s what we do! Teaching the alphabet can be daunting, but if you don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself and just teach through play, it can be really fun! Here are some play-based ways to teach your child the alphabet.
Foam Bath Letters
During bath time, we ask Miss H to find specific letters for us. We started with the first letters in the names of family members, and then moved onto letters of familiar words like “d” for “dog.”
I bought an alphabet puzzle when Miss H was about 18 months old, and ended up putting it back together for her every time we played with it. Now she can put it back together with a little guidance. I try to vary the guiding questions that I ask her.
- When she grabs a letter, I say the letter name and sound. She then looks for a picture that matches the sound.
- If she knows the letter name, I say the sound or “A is for apple.” She then finds the corresponding picture.
- She chooses a picture, and looks for the letter with the same beginning sound.
- I say a letter, and ask her to look for it.
By mixing up how we do this puzzle, it remains fun.
In the car, we look for letters on street signs. We try to go in alphabetical order, but if Miss H finds a letter out of order, I definitely don’t discourage her! Sometimes when I’m not the driver, I make letter shapes with my fingers to show her what we’re looking for.
Alphabet Nature Walks
Sometimes we focus on a specific letter of the alphabet when we take a nature walk. We look for things that begin with that letter. On an A nature walk, we might look for ants, aphids, and apple trees.
Outdoor Alphabet Activities
You can read my 11 ideas for learning the alphabet outdoors here.
The Amped Up Alphabet Song
This song is to the tune of the good ole’ ABC’s song, but it includes the letter sounds, too. We sing, “A, a, apple, buh, b, ball, c, k, cat, d, du, dog.” (Say the sound the letter makes after the actual letter.) You can really use any words that you want, and it allows your child to learn letter sounds as well!
Look for familiar letters in magazines, newspapers, catalogs, etc.
We received a book from our library’s summer reading program called Kindergarten ABC’s that has objects to find representing each letter of the alphabet. This creates a fun way to learn letter sounds. I often sound out each word as we search for it so she’s aware of all of the sounds. For example, I’ll say, “F-l-ow-er,” while we search for the picture of a flower. There are so many alphabet books available! Find one that you both enjoy.
One Mistake to Avoid (That I Made!)
Recently we completed the puzzle and I made a big mistake. Instead of “h” making a nice, breathy sound, I said, “Huh!” H is a voiceless consonant. If H said, “Huh”, then the weather here has been “hu-ot!” See my video below about voiceless consonants. Other voiceless consonants are c, f, k, t, p, s, th (as in think), sh, and ch.
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