By Carolyn Jaynes, Ph.D.
Knowledge of the alphabet at school entry is one of the best predictors of later reading achievement. The following activities are designed to help your child have some fun learning about letters:
- Hunt for environmental print—the letters and words children see around them every day. Start a game of I-Spy and have your child search for letters prominently displayed on signs, posters, billboards, even cereal boxes.
- Play beat-the-clock. Open a book or magazine and have your child point to, and name, as many letters, numbers, objects, or colors as she can in 30 seconds.
- Sing the Alphabet Song. Have fun singing this familiar tune with different tempos or silly voices (monster voice, tiny mouse voice, robot voice).
- Play with alphabet letters. Pull out the magnets, blocks, puzzles, whatever you have, and name the letters, eventually having your child identify the letter names on his own. It’s usually best to introduce letters in alphabetical order, or start with the letters in your child’s name. Upper case letters can be easier to tell apart, so they are often introduced first. At the same time, the lower case letters show up more in print, so there are good reasons to include both. Also, help your child match the letters with the sounds they make, along with a familiar word that contains the letter sound.
- Paint letters with water. Grab a bowl of water and a couple of paint brushes or sponges and “paint” letters on the sidewalk or on a wooden fence.
- Make letters in the sand. Use fingers or small sticks to draw letters in the sand.
Remember the goal of your shared reading time is to foster a love of reading while helping your toddler appreciate and understand what is read.
More on helping children learn to read:
- March Is Reading Month, Even If You Don't Read...Yet
- Reading Month Ideas & Activities
- Video: Reading to Toddlers
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As the literacy development expert on LeapFrog’s Learning Team, Carolyn ensures that the curricular design in LeapFrog products is grounded in the latest educational research. Before joining LeapFrog, Carolyn was a reading professor at Sacramento State University, a curriculum developer for the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, and a teacher in the San Francisco bay area. She earned her doctorate in educational psychology at Michigan State University.
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