Teach the Alphabet

Homeshooling youngsters can be both joyous and stressful, especially when you are in search of the best lesson plans to help you teach your little one to read. The cyberworld is full of gems as well as coal…so what does a mother do? She makes up her own! In this article you will find some great starters to get you and your little on the way to learning the alphabet.

Materials to have on-hand:

You will need the basics; pencils, crayons, markers, chalk, and paper (lined and blank, colored and white). It will also be beneficial for you to have a note book or journal, tape and glue, some strings of your choice, scissors (regular and fancy cutters), a few magazines with bright and fun pictures, sticky notes, stickers, and a hole puncher. Some other items that will come in handy are jello, sand, clay, peanut butter and jelly, crackers (the stick shaped ones work great), Ziplock sandwich baggies and gallon bags, dry beans or peas and elbow noodles, colorful candies (m&m’s or skittles), and paper towels (for clean up).

Before you begin:

If you are looking for lesson plans on the alphabet, your child is presumably between the ages of 2 and 6. These little people have a world all their own, and until you can get a sneak peak into that world teaching them will be a challenge. So, before you begin drilling with flash cards and having them perform the ABC’s for all of the family, take some time to look into their world. Some questions to ask are: How does she learn the best? What are his favorite toys? How long of an attention span does he have? Does she like to perform? Does he like making up his own stories and adventures? Does she love to help out around the house? Questions like these will lead you in different directions for each child, and because of this each lesson plan will vary. This is where the notebook or journal will come in handy. As your child grows, he will change as well. The journal will be a helpful tool as you discover your child and help her discover herself.

You’re all set, now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started. The three lesson starters to follow are arranged by understanding levels. Of course, you can use them interchangeably and expand them in a variety of ways. Get creative, and keep your child’s temperament, personality, interests, and attention span in mind as you prepare for your lessons.

For the beginner:

This is the child who is between 2 and 4 and has no previous experience with the alphabet. Your main goal is to introduce the letters, and their sounds. The very best way to do this is by reading to them, on a regular basis. As you read their favorite stories, stop and point out words, and then move onto letters. Giving the child the opportunity to harvest the knowledge that words and sentences are the final product of letters will provide a solid foundation for reading. Also, make sure that the texts are varied; use books and magazines, read adventures and fairy-tales, you can even explore the backs of cereal boxes and street signs.

Of course, just sitting or walking around reading isn’t enough. You need to let your child explore the letters and words as you read them as well as afterward. Here’s where all those baggies and gooey materials come in. Prepare jello, then poor it into the baggies filling them about half way. Zip them up and let them set in the fridge. While sitting at the table or on the floor or ground, encourage your child to make the letters by sliding his fingers across the baggy. You can also let them get reall gooey, and plop some peanut butter on a paper plate and let them draw the letters in it.

Seeing letters in action will help your child take ahold of the concept of letters combining to make words. To do this, simply post sticky notes around the house with the words printed neatly. For instance, “cupboard” posted on the kitchen cupboards and “sink” posted below the kitchen sink. Ask your child what things he would like to see, then help them write the letters to make the words on the sticky notes. You may end up with “toys” stuck to the toy box, or “shirts” on a dresser drawer. Once you have a few labels in each room of the house, have a scavenger hunt for letters. Write each letter on a small piece of pare. Fold the paper and put them all into a hat or a box. Have the child draw out a letter, say the name (help them until they start to get it), then have them go find labels with that letter on it. You can have prizes or tokens of accomplishment for the child finding the write letters, naming the letters, or saying the word with the letter in it.

For a snack, use the crakers, peanut butter, and jelly. If you are using graham crackers, spread the peanut butter on one and the jelly on the other. Using a plastic spoon handle, write a letter in the peanut butter. Then, encourage your child to try in the jelly. Smooth it out, and repeat until the child’s attention is diverted.

For the novice:

This child can sing his ABC’s and can write her name; maybe even recognize a few letters of the alphabet. Reading to your child is still a very important step, so do it often. You can take it a step further by going on an alphabet hunt in your child’s favorite stories. One day look for A’s the next B’s and so on. Keep track of the letters your child learns in your journal, and help him make one of his own with construction paper. To do this, lay 14 pieces of colored paper in a stack. Then fold them in half lengthwise. Staple the folds, and viola! you have an alphabet journal. To make the journal more fun and interesting, let your child decorate a cover; remember to include a title and byline. There are two basic variations of an alphabet journal. One is to write a letter on each page, then as your child discovers words with that letter in them, have him write the word. He can also draw pictures of the words to help him remember them. Or, on each page have your child cut out pictures that will help her remember the names and/or sounds of each letter.

Quite often, children at this stage will tend to invent their own alphabet and language. It is common for parents and teahers to correct the children when they do this. Doing so is actually counterproductive to the learning process. Encourage them to create their own language, then sit with them and translate it into English. Create a “Davidish” to “English” dictionary together following the same template as an alphabet journal. You can also use a notebook with a three-ring center. Use a three-ring hole punch to prepare several sheets of colored paper (construction paper takes up more space). Alternate lined paper with colored paper. Have your child cut out pictures or draw them for the words in the translation dictionary. Organize the dictionary according to the English alphabet, write the English word on the left sheet of lined paper, and the corresponding word in the child’s language on the right sheet. Have your child dictate several short stories, and then help him translate the stories. Soon the child will be learning his alphabet as well as laying the foundations for a second language.

For the pro:

The pro alphabet learner knows most of the alphabet, has begun to read short words, and can write a few as well. This child is well on his way to reading and writing, but still needs some practice and encouragement. Reading to your child at this stage is not only important, it is fundamental. Read to your child now on several levels. With the easy readers,encourage your child to read along with you: stop for words you know your child knows. Again, hunt for letters as you read, and encourage your child to do so on his own as well. He can add words and letters to his alphabet journal or translation dictionary.

There are a few common difficult letters that your child may be struggling with. The letters that can sound alike, such as: K, C, and S; D and T; Y and W; Y and E; and X and S. These letters may continue to trouble your child for months, maybe even years. But don’t worry yourself too much over them. Give your child the tools they need, and provide an encouraging environment for them to explore. A letter journal may help them move past these letter, or you could try to create collages and scrapbooks with them. When you do these kinds of projects it is more beneficial for the child to se the letters in action together instead of separated. For example, create a page full of C’s that sound like S’s and then an adjacent page full of S’s; and then a page full of K sounding C’s with the adjacent page full of K’s. Remember to include pictures to help the child remember the letter as well as the sound(s) each letter makes.