Learning the ABCs

"My child knows the alphabet." "My child doesn't know the ABCs!" "My child can sing the whole alphabet song."

Which one of these is you? Just because you think your child knows the alphabet, you may want to think again. How is it that you 'know' your child knows the alphabet? Is it because he/she can sing the alphabet song? If so, then this does NOT mean your child knows the alphabet! If, on a letter identification test your child is unable to identify each letter, when the letters have been mixed up and are out of order, then THIS is the true test of whether or not your child 'knows' the alphabet.

Being able to identify the letters of the alphabet is just one of the basic foundational skills necessary in the development of phonemic awareness which leads to reading and writing success. Sure, singing the alphabet song is a good beginning but it isn't the test! Once your child is able to identify the upper- and lower-case letters, out of order, then he/she is on the way…

Memorizing the letter names is like memorizing number facts. It is one of those things that just have to be done! Since there are a total of 52 letters to memorize, it is an awesome task to expect of a young child. Breaking the task into smaller bits will make the learning easier and much more comprehensible. So, begin by having your child learn the letters in his/her name. After all, these are the letters that will have the most import for your child who feels that those letters belong to him/her! (How many of you have heard your child say, "That's MY letter!" when referring to the first letter of his/her name?)

Here are some suggestions for helping to learn the letters. Practice every single day for ten minutes, no more, no less. This should be IN ADDITION to any other homework (but, do it at a different time from the regular homework time).

  • Letters in My Name: Make up special flash cards, one letter per card, of the child's name. Click here for a flash card template. The squares are for the letters that are short; the rectangles are for those letters that are tall, have tails, or are capitals/upper-case. Mix up the letters and show one-at-a-time, saying each letter name aloud. Ask your child to tell you what the name is for each letter. Once a letter is named correctly on a regular basis, put that letter to rest.
  • Adding New Letters: Do not begin adding new letters to the name letter mix. Wait until ALL of the letters in that first set have been mastered before moving to the next group. Once the name letters are mastered, then select the next five to seven letters. Work with those letters only.
  • Post-it Letters: Pick up a package of Post-it™ notes (sticky notes). Write one letter per note (only the letters you are having your child practice). Place these around the house (bathroom, kitchen, hallway, etc.). Whenever you and your child are in that part of the house, have your child tell you what the letter is. Train the other family members to do the same. This way your child is ALWAYS seeing the letters and practicing! You can even use safety pins to pin the notes to the seat of the car…then, your child can be staring at the letters while in the car.
  • Salt/Sand Letters: Take a large cookie sheet or cake pan and fill it with salt or play sand (you can get play sand at Home Depot for about $5). Have your child practice writing the letter in the sand/salt.
  • Shaving cream letters: Take a plastic baggy. Fill the inside of it with shaving cream/gel. Push out all the air then seal up the baggy. Take another baggy and put the first one inside (this will help just in case the first one pops!). Have your child write the letters in the cream/gel.
  • Sand Paper Letters: Get sand paper and cut out the letters. Have your child trace the letters with his/her fingers. Get paper and crayons out. Have your child make a rubbing (we have done rubbings in class so your child should be aware of what to do.).
  • Alien Finger and Books: Whenever you are reading a story together, be sure to use the Alien Finger (found in the Purple Box). Point out the letters that you are working on together. Have your child identify them.
There are a multitude of ways to work with the alphabet. These are just a few ideas to get you started. Have fun and remember, no more than 20 minutes of regular homework and no more than 10 minutes of any extra homework (such as alphabet practice, name writing practice, etc.).

AR Book Find

I bet YOU have your own 'AR' books at home or have been checking some out at your own public library! 'Accelerated Reader' books are simply those that have the special quizzes to go with them. Check to see if your book book is listed under the AR Book Find. You can find the reading level and more!

Contact info

You may contact Mrs. S-S via email if you have questions: email Mrs. S-S