The preschool years are probably my favorite years of parenting. The kids are still cute enough, and their brains are still largely play do, able to be molded to my liking. I've learned that as much molding as possible should be done before 6 years old because, at least for girls, attitudes start to harden those squishable blobs! One thing I've had an easy time with is teaching my kids their letters. My goal with my preschoolers is for them to recognize letters as individual characters (rather than memorizing the alphabet) and to learn the sound(s) that each makes. From there, we move to pairing two letters together and before you know it, we're beginning Dick and Jane! Here are my 4 most successful ways to teach letters.
1. Cheez-It Scrabble. My son is an eater, so anything that can feed his stomach and his mind at the same time is alright in his book. I would show him a cracker, and if he knew the letter he ate it. It not, we learn the letter along with the sound it makes and a simple word that starts wtih that letter. Given another chance to name the letter, the cracker usually ended up in his tummy.
2. The Z was Zapped, by Chris Van Allsburg. A great book where the letters are mutating and getting attacked. The images in the book are just as large as the cover, so the letters are easy to see. Whether it's a D that's drowning or an I that's being iced with icing, my kids had a great time filling in the blanks while we read this book. There's a great Teaching Guide available too!
3. Sesame Street's Do The Alphabet video is a favorite in my house, and as most Sesame segments do, this one engages children. In my house, Mommy usually has to join in the fun to keep the kids from zoning out, but as a group activity, this teaching tool is fantastic!
4. Noticing letters during car rides is a regular activity for us. Whether it's air writing a name, pointing out letters in commercial logos, or playing the alphabet game (a race to see who can find words that begin with each letter of the alphabet, in order), we're constantly using our down time in the minivan to expand our reading horizons!
I'm always on the lookout for new ideas and angles for teaching reading, so feel free to share what's worked for you and your kiddos!