Homeschool Preschool: Letters

Need ideas for teaching your child letters? Start here!

* Point out letters wherever you go: On building blocks, on signs, painted onto the street or parking lot, on food jars and boxes, on containers of all types...

* Sing the ABC Song often.

* As you teach the names of the letters, also mention the most common sound they make.

* Watch The Letters Factory. (By watching this DVD, my firstborn learned her phonics before she could actually talk. She was a later talker.)

* Use a Word Whammer. This toy offers a fun way to learn the sounds letters make and is a terrific companion to The Letters Factory DVD.

* When your child is attentive, point out letters and their sounds. For example "C (see) says k." As she grows older, sound out simple words for her. For example, if you're reading Cat in the Hat, sound out
c-a- t phonically.

* For older preschoolers who are beginning to sit down and do some worksheets, use free alphabet worksheets that link the letter to the sound it makes.

* Read, read, read, read, read to your child. When he develops a love of books, he will have a natural desire to learn to read them himself.

* Purchase large foam letters or make them from cardboard. Show your child how to trace around the letter (using correct writing formation) with matchbox cars. Don't fret if your child drives the cars around the letters with incorrect writing formation, but from time to time, play cars with him and demonstrate the correct formation.

* When it's time to start teaching your child to write, begin with the first letters of her name, then move on until she can make all the letters for her first name. Practice writing the letters in shaving cream, sand, in chalk on the sidewalk...

* When using alphabet books, games, and worksheets, avoid those that show both the upper and lower case versions of the letters. Instead, focus on the lower case letters first, since most letters we are exposed to are lower case. Once your child can recognize or write these, move on to upper case.

* Play Letter Bingo.

* Dump a bunch of plastic letters into a soup pot. Give your child a ladle and have him fish out one letter. Let him say the name of the letter. When he is more proficient, have him also tell you the sound the letter makes. When he's even more proficient, ask him to hunt around the house for something that starts with that letter.

* Near the end of the preschool age, play I Spy: "I spy something that begins with the letter R."

* Purchase cookie cutters in the shape of letters and bake and decorate cookies together. Younger kids can identify the letters; older ones can also tell you the sounds they make or begin to spell things with the letters. Start with the child's name.

* Help your child make her own alphabet book. Purchase a notebook and give your child old magazines and catalogs. Find letters and objects, animals, or people that start with each letter. Help your child cut them out and paste them into the book.

* Make letters from Play-Dough.

*  Whenever you drive somewhere with your child, tell him you're going to play detective: He needs to find a particular letter during your ride. At first, help him spot signs, containers, etc. that might have the letter on it. Soon, he'll be busy shouting out every time he finds the letter.

* For older preschoolers, do fun crafts, activities, and worksheets related to each letter.

More Articles in the Homeschool Preschool Series:

Why Homeschool Preschool? 
Thoughts on Readiness 
How Much Time? 
Scissor Skills
Colors & Shapes
The Balance Beam Game

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