Surely repetition is key to all learning, but I think especially so with younger learners. It is common sense really, the more you see, hear, say, explore and practise something, the more likely you are to really remember and know it. I always felt like it was difficult to do enough repetition of skills in my (older level) classrooms because the curriculum had so much packed into it. There was so much to cover, we were lucky to get back to main topics two or three times in a year. This is yet another point on my list of 'why I should home school', but we'll leave that discussion alone for now.
I recently posted about an ABC book on Instagram (see it here). My toddler has really been getting into his ABCs lately and is starting to recognise certain letter shapes. As I went around the house to look for some alphabet related activities we could do, I was actually a bit shocked at how much I found. Maybe it's because I'm a teacher? I've been subconsciously collecting alphabet items for the past five years?
I'm going to blame the fact that my closest friends are all teachers and get my kids the best gifts. However it happened, it is definitely a good thing. My kids will certainly see, touch, hear and play with the alphabet without every having me thrust flashcards in their faces. Not that there is anything wrong with flashcards. I just feel like they tend to used the wrong way with little ones more often than not. Repetitive learning is possible for toddlers, preschoolers and older children, without the need for tools like flashcards. Below are a list of just some of the alphabet related items my kids play with, that I found around our house.
Wooden blocks - our set are by Uncle Goose (their website is here) and are a bit different than the typical set of blocks. If you are at all into typography, than these blocks are for you. I love playing with them! My 4 year old is finally at an age where he can do the puzzle sides of the blocks as well (not pictured here). It is actually quite tricky as they've printed the alphabet in half - the top of each letter on one block and the bottom on another. It's not that easy to line up even for me!
Magnetic letters - we used to have an easel that the kids used these on but we sold it when we moved from the UK. Now I just have an Ikea Sponton magnetic board (found in the office section) hung on the wall for all sorts of magnet fun. My 4 year old changes it frequently to things like 'My room' or 'My lego display', etc. My 2 year old rips them down and scatters them around the floor but at least as we pick them up together I use the letter name or sound. Natural learning at its best! If it's hard to read sarcasm on here, so I'm just going to point it out.
Alphabet puzzle - my other half doesn't tend to pick up many toys, he leaves that to me. But this wooden puzzle he grabbed from a clearance rack at a local grocery store for £1 was a big score! We use it all the time, as you can see from the well worn pieces.
Alphabet stickers - the sheet of stickers in the picture is just one of many pages from a Melissa and Doug sticker pad. We have had it around for a few years now and it is still going strong. We use it to make cards for people, to stick all over walls and furniture (my favourite), to put on our clothes and to just throw all over the floor. The different fonts and colours are a lot of fun and of course stickers are great for working out toddlers' hands.
Alphabet cards (pic below) - I got these beautiful alphabet cards at the baby shower for my first bub. I hung them on a string with those little mini-clothes pins in his nursery and even as a baby he loved the colourful pictures. I love them too! Now they are more of a play set we pull out for various activities (tracing letters, copying pictures).
Alphabet stamps (pic below) - I actually got these stamps for my classroom from a shop in the UK called Tiger. It is like a dollar store done by Ikea, full of quirky, cute and cheap items. I miss wandering those aisles. I lost most of the letters over the years but luckily my son was given another pack from one of my teacher friends. I love using them to make gifts and cards. My eldest loves using them for anything really - he is on a book making kick at the minute. My toddler happily sings the ABC song and just stamps away with them.
Foam alphabet - you really can't go wrong with letters in the bath tub. To be honest, the little one tends to eat them more than anything...but hey, that still counts as exploring! Of course his older brother is always spelling away on the walls of the tub, which I think is such good exposure for my little guy.
Alphabet bed sheets - I forgot to get a picture of these but my son's first big boy bed had a set of alphabet sheets from Ikea (Eivor Ord). They are black and white which I love, rather than some of the more gaudy children's themes that are out there. They aren't sold by Ikea anymore but I think you can find them on ebay or amazon.
So...is this all too much? Have I gone too far? I can't be the only one subconsciously collecting the alphabet. Oh well. It is all getting good use in our house, which is what matters most to me!
Hello! I'm Deb,
a book-toting mother of two and an elementary (primary) school teacher. I love making stories engaging and interactive for kids.
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