All of us are familiar with the famous “Now I Know My ABC’s” song – you know, the one that sounds suspiciously similar to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” – and while it’s an effective tune, you’re probably wondering if there are some other fun or creative ways to teach your child their ABC’s. After all, even if they know the “ABC’s” song by heart, they may still not be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet when they see them, and let’s face it – that’s the gold medal in the alphabet Olympics. So in the interest of helping your child get a thorough grasp of this all-important fundamental concept, below are some fun, creative and effective ways to teach your child the alphabet.
1. Read ABC Books
There’s no shortage of these books around, but one of the best out there is the classic Dr. Seuss work “ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book!” Another favorite of parents and teachers the world over is “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. Practically any book that presents the ABC’s in a fun, colorful and creative way is a sure winner. Be sure that you work with your child to sound out the letters as you’re going through the book, and it also helps to take their hand and have them trace over the letters with their finger, so that you can introduce a tactile element into the mix.
2. Use Multi-Colored ABC Refrigerator Magnets
This is one of those learning activities that combines visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile learning all in one to really tie the concept together in your child’s mind. Take about 5 letters at a time and put them on the refrigerator, making sure that you point to each one and have your child repeat the letter sound after you. Then allow your little one to scramble them, play with them and basically do whatever they want with them while you casually and intermittently remind them of what each letter is. Be sure to have them repeat the letters after you several times during the exercise, and don’t always try to present the letters in their traditional order; even if you’re unsure whether or not your child is grasping the concept, don’t worry – that little brain is hard at work, forging new connections as you speak.
3. Use Manipulatives to Form Letters
You can arrange Lego blocks, cheese sticks, pieces of string, dry beans or any number of other objects to form the letters of the alphabet. Arrange a few of the letters at a time to give your child a good “starter set” to work with, and see if they can copy your letter shapes using the same materials. As you’re working together on this project, be sure to have your child repeat the letters after you. Also try transforming one letter into another, such as a capital E into a capital F, so that they can see how making a small adjustment to the shape of a letter can form another one.
4. YouTube is Your Friend
There are countless ABC videos on YouTube that you can play for your child on your smartphone, tablet or smart TV. Two of the most popular videos along these lines are “ABC Songs for Children,” by ABCkidTV, and the “ABC Song” compilation from Little Baby Bum. When you turn on these energetic, brightly-colored videos for your toddler, they’ll be singing along before you know it.
5. When you’re teaching your child the alphabet, the important thing to remember is that variety is the key element that will help anchor the concept into their mind. As you present the same alphabet in a variety of different formats and styles, your child’s eager mind will develop stronger neural connections that will flesh out the concept in a more comprehensive way. Above everything else, be sure to make it fun, and your toddler will be well on their way to mastering their ABC’s!