Monday, August 05, 2013

5 Days of Teaching Kids to Read: All About Learning the Alphabet

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Welcome to day 1 of my series on Teaching Kids to Read!

Well, I am now officially past the stage of teaching my kids to read. All three of my children learned to read fairly well by the end of first grade with my first born being the easiest to teach. He read his first real novel in first grade. (And now at the age of almost 14, he is still the one who loves to read the most out of my three kids.) I thought I would take this Blog Hop opportunity to share a few tips over the next five days.

Please know that I don't think there is only one way to effectively do this; there are countless ideas out there, especially with Pinterest being so popular now. (It didn't exist when I first began this teaching-my-kids-to-read venture.) There are lots of different learning styles and only you know what will work best for your children. Anyway, I am just sharing what worked for us, and I hope the information will be helpful to you. So, please join me for . . .

Of course the first step to teaching kids to read has to begin with learning the letters and their sounds. Personally, I think it's the easiest and the most fun of all the stages. It's such a colorful stage filled with wonder and awe. Little ones seem so eager to soak up new information!

Even though I knew I was going to homeschool my kids before they were born, you don't have to be a homeschooler to begin teaching the basics of reading. Most of us do it naturally anyway just by singing the alphabet song or reading books aloud to our children. And that's the best way to start, but if you want to go a little further, you can teach your children the names of the letters and their sounds. (I think most moms do this pretty naturally, too.)

The great news is that you don't need a fancy curriculum to teach the basics to toddlers/preschoolers. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
  • Alphabet Flashcards - I think I just found some inexpensive ones at Wal-Mart.
  • Alphabet Puzzles - I remember using a foam one I found for $1 from K-Mart.
  • Alphabet Magnets - These are great for sticking on the fridge - my kids loved these!
With one or all three of these simple and inexpensive tools, you can easily set aside a few minutes each day to begin teaching the names and sounds of letters. Remember learning should be fun! I had to remind myself of this ALL of the time. I have a tendency to be really task oriented. Type A issues. *Sigh*

Even though learning should be fun at this age, I did require my toddlers/preschoolers to have what we affectionately called "school" everyday. I started this when my kids were around 2-3 years of age, and it was intentional learning time in which they had to practice sitting still beside me and listening to me teach. (With child #3, it was a little more difficult to carve out a specific time everyday.)Learning time for toddlers lasted about 10-30 minutes and stretched over a longer period of time as they got older. I thought this was really great practice for when they began kindergarten. (Homeschool) Plus, I personally think kids need to understand that there is a time for sitting still and listening quietly even when they don't feel like it. I loved spending this focused learning time with my kids!

Other Alphabet Tips and Resources

Because my mother-in-law purchased some A Beka preschool materials for me when my first born was still a little guy, I did have some really fun, large alphabet flash cards to also use during our "school" time. Here's what we used from A Beka:

*Animal Alphabet Friends Flashcards ( The front includes a letter and an animal friend, and the back includes teaching ideas and a description of the animal.)


I used a few of their other preschool products as well during our "school" time, but since they don't really have anything to do with teaching letters, I won't mention them here. Feel free to check them out, though, if you are looking for more than just teaching letters at this time!

*Make personalized letter albums - I made Creative Memories ABC albums for both of my boys when they were little, and they LOVED looking at them over and over again. I used personal photos of them for each letter of the alphabet, wrote bible verses that started with each letter, and used stickers to represent different items that started with each letter, too.

Also, my mother-in-law made a wonderful alphabet Bible verse album for my firstborn (Mullin). All of these albums made great letter-teaching tools!

* We also used some quality Leap Frog products. Some of the more expensive educational toys were given to us as birthday or Christmas gifts, which was a huge blessing. My kids really enjoyed watching some of the Leap Frog DVDs - I can still picture The Letter Factory quite clearly! I am pretty sure I borrowed the DVDs from the library or a friend. I highly recommend them, though. A 3-pack learning DVD set is available on Amazon - click the picture below to check it out.

*One of my favorite websites for preschool teaching tools/worksheets/crafts was First-School. And it's totally FREE! The first link will take you to the home page which is worth checking out, but here's a link to the alphabet page as well.

About 4 years ago, I wrote a post about my preschool daughter begging to do "school," and in that post she is gluing the letter B and a few pictures that start with B onto some construction paper. That worksheet was from First-School. You can see what it looks like by clicking the above link. We went through the entire alphabet, plus there are SO many other activities from which to choose. We did all kinds of stuff from that website. LOVED IT!

*Starfall is another free website that teaches letters and phonics and offers free reading material as well. I remember my daughter playing around on this site. :)

*Fast Phonics - free website I found but have never used.

*Let your child make their own ABC notebook. I had an index-card sized notebook on hand, and I let my daughter go through all of my scrapbooking stickers that I didn't use any more. On each page she stuck on a letter and found stickers to add that started with that particular letter. Super easy and super entertaining. As you can see on the example below, B is for button, bee, Band-Aid, book, bow, balloons, and binoculars.

*One last resource: I happened upon Crystal & Co. not too long ago and found this great Letter of the Week theme she posts. For each letter of the week, she has a craft idea, snack idea, and picture book recommendations for kids. The link will take you to the letter P, but she includes all the previous letter links at the end of the post. Wish this had been around a few years ago!

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1 comment:

Capri said...

Great blog! You should create a lens about this on Squidoo. Right in the developing years, parents should always read to their children regularly at least once every day and preferably story books. Phonics is really important for toddlers, it helps them learn on how to read as they grow up.


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