Relying only on rhymes, songs, recitation and drill to teach the alphabet to your little one? Well, you can do away with these mundane and conventional methods, and get creative. All it takes is some innovation and some of your spare time to teach your child. These fun ways will surely hold her attention and drive away her boredom.
Before you begin, choose a time of the day when your child is full of energy and is most responsive and attentive. It could be a short while after breakfast or after the evening snack. Remember, a cranky child is a poor learner and can leave you exhausted as well. So, choosing the right time is the key to effective learning.
Gather all the materials needed beforehand; you can rope in your child to collect them as well as put them away after use. Explain to your child what both of you are going to do. Keep the excitement and interest level high by exaggerating the activity ahead! Preschoolers love the thrill of engaging in something new and open up right away.
Here are some ideas to get your child to enjoy alphabet learning:
1. Write on sand. Fill a tray with sand or salt. Hold your little one’s hand and trace out the letters on the sand. Once done, level the sand by swiping your palm across and start all over again!
2. Paint the letters. Dip your child’s index finger in paint. Paint out each letter of the alphabet on a piece of A4 size paper.
3. Make letters from clay. First, you and your child can knead colourful clay. Then, roll out each letter and bake them. You can reuse the clay shapes later.
4. Use magnetic alphabet stickers. Jumble all the letters. Now, challenge your child to arrange them in order around the sides of the refrigerator.
5. Pick a letter for the day. Focus only on that letter. Talk about the words that start with that letter. Also, ask your child to spot objects whose names start with that letter.
6. Use flash cards. First, let your child pick a flash card and you name the letter. Next, you pick a letter and let your child name it. Take turns picking flash cards and naming the letters.
7. Sing along alphabet rhymes. This will help you teach your child the order of the letters. Search online for such songs. Sing those songs every day till your child can sing by himself.
8. Make an album. Create an album of all the letters of the alphabet with all your child’s favourite photographs. For example, A for his favourite fruit apple, B for ball or baby.
9. Use alphabet pasta. Add it to soup. Let your child fish out each letter and revise the letters of the alphabet.
10. Play a tracing game. Write each letter of the alphabet on individual A4 sheets. Place tracing paper over each letter and let your child trace the letter with a big crayon.
11. Practise writing letters of the alphabet on cupcakes or cookies. Fill a Ziploc bag with some buttercream and snip the corner. Hold your child’s hand and spell out his name by writing one letter on each cupcake or cookie.
12. Pin up letters on toys. Pin one letter of the alphabet on each of your child’s favourite soft toys. Ask him to queue them up in order one behind the other.
13. Use an alphabet puzzle mat. Rearrange the letters. Call out a letter and ask your child to jump on that particular square!
14. Play the guessing game. Trace a letter on your child’s back with your finger. Ask your child to guess the letter you have written! Take turns doing the same for each other.
15. Spot the letters. A great way to revise the alphabet on the road would be to spot the letters on number plates of vehicles passing by you and reading them aloud.
16. A twist to spot the letters. If your child’s name starts with the letter B, spot cars or vehicles that have a ‘B’ on their registration plate.
17. Use an alphabet stencil. Cut out an alphabet stencil. Let your child draw around it and fill it with colour.
18. Play with stickers. Purchase alphabet stickers. Put up chart paper against a wall. Draw rows on the chart paper. Get your child to stick the alphabet stickers neatly in a row. Alternatively, call out a letter and let your child pick it out from his sticker bunch and stick it.
19. A game before the rains. Using a piece of thick chalk, draw letters on a concrete slab or sill just when it is about to rain. Watch it get washed away and start all over again!
20. Free writing. Hang up a white board or a black board in your home. Keep pieces of coloured chalk or erasable markers handy. Give your little one a free run to practise drawing alphabet shapes and figures.
The precious preschool learning years are few. So, before you know, your little one would be off and doing things on his own. Embrace these years and enjoy the time spent with your child while sowing the seeds which make him feel that learning is nothing but a whole lot of fun!
Anitha Bennett is a freelance author who has written books for children from preschool to preteen levels. She also conducts workshops for parents, teachers and children.