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Guest Post: A Day in the Life of the Alphabet

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A Heart For Home: Guest Post: A Day in the Life of the Alphabet

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Post: A Day in the Life of the Alphabet

Guest post by Kristin from Bits & Pieces from My Life

Like most of the things I set out to teach my children, I wanted the instructing and learning of the alphabet to be done in a fun and natural way.  I had no intentions of sitting them down and drilling sounds and letter names into their heads or buying workbooks for them to pencil in at the table.  I really didn’t have a plan at all and yet, somehow by the time each child turned two, they knew their letters by name and many of their sounds, too. 

The silliest thing happened one day when I took my oldest (now eight) to the potty.  He was wiggly and didn’t want to sit long enough to use the bathroom so I started singing.  I sang, “ABCDEFG…”  He stopped and he smiled and he listened!  After that, whenever he sat on the potty, he wanted me to sing.  Without really trying, he memorized his alphabet.  Successful potty-training, unfortunately, came much later.  

My second child was born when my first was only nineteen months old and my third was born not quite twenty-five months after that.  I had three under four and my days were crazy.  Between nursing and cleaning and cooking and changing diapers and holding a very-needy infant (still my most needy child of all!), sometimes I felt too overwhelmed to add any learning activities to our day, but we read all the time.  Reading was one of the things I could do that kept everyone happy and so that is what we did.  We brought picture books homes from the library, we filled our own shelves with gems from the Goodwill and yard sales, and we even attempted (very successfully) to read longer chapter books during the baby’s naptime.  Without me realizing what was happening, my two-year-old was learning her letters and her sounds and developing an astonishingly large vocabulary.

By the time my third child was in the alphabet-learning stage, I had just had my fourth child.  I spent much of time in the kitchen, teaching the older kids at the table while I cooked with the baby in a sling.  Being the needy toddler than he was, the third child was always under my feet.  I often directed him to the magnet letters we had stuck on the side of the refrigerator.  I instructed him to bring them to me one by one and I’d tell him what the letter said.  It was a coping technique for me, but it was a golden learning opportunity for him.  One day at the library, he walked to the magnet board they had set up in the children’s section and proceeded to name every letter for me.  At four-years-old, he is still fascinated with the refrigerator letters and sounds out (and even spells) small words on his own

The cycle continued.  Around the time my fourth child was interested in letters, my fifth child was born!  Want to know how the fourth learned his alphabet?  His brothers and sister taught him! 
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Though most of our alphabet learning has been spontaneous, over the course of my eight mothering years, we have found two activities worth repeating:

~    Before the children were old enough to control a pencil I gave them a pan of rice and had them trace letters with their fingers. Just last Friday, I gave this project to my two-year-old and when he was done, the rest of the kids ended up playing with that pan of rice all. weekend.

~   When the kids were about kindergarten age, they each began their own alphabet book.  Each page was devoted to one letter.  They practiced writing a line of lower case and a line of upper case.  Then they drew a picture (or cut one from a magazine) of an object starting with that letter.  If the child’s writing skills were advanced enough, they also copied a scripture that began with the specific letter.

Kristin is a wife, mother of 5, sister, daughter, and friend. She's a  writer, avid reader, homeschooler, organizing fanatic, baker, and fledgling seamstress. Most of all, she is a child of the King!

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