Monday, September 12, 2011

In which we eat our words...

Minty has recently become interested in learning her letters.  Now I know some parents out there are hard core Steiner converts and don't believe in teaching kids to write until they are 6 years old.  If you fall into this camp you will probably think I am cramping my child's creative spirit and hindering her ability to enjoy childhood.  At the other end of the spectrum there are those parents whose children came out of the womb holding a pencil in a pincer grasp and are well on the way to writing their first novel by age 3.  These parents will probably be shocked that Minty still can't write her own name.  

This post isn't intended as some kind of educational manifesto.  At the moment I'm just following the kids interests and trying to keep everything light hearted and fun.  With this in mind I'm going to share with you a few games we've been playing and things we've been doing to help Minty take the very first steps toward literacy.  

So as not to overwhelm Minty, I'm just showing her the letters in her name and Turi's name to start off with.  When she's got these down we'll move on if she's still interested.

One of the activities we've done is to make sand letters.  I found the idea here.  Basically you just write each letter on a card with some glue and let your child tip sand on it.  Shake off the excess sand and leave it to dry.  Minty uses the cards to trace over the letter with her finger.  The textural nature of these apparently help kids to remember the shape of the letter when they are learning to write.

Another game we're playing is a sort of letter scramble game.  I've written all the letters to Turi and Minty's names on bits of paper.  I mix them all up on the floor and then Minty tries to peg them up on the clothes horse in order to spell out the names.  

In another attempt to encourage letter recognition we made alphabet cookies today.  I used this recipe.  This activity encouraged a lot of dialogue about the different letters.  Talking about their shapes and which letter we were cutting out of the dough.  When Minty asks for a cookie, I try to ask her which letter she would like from a selection of two ('would you like this letter M or this letter T?') I also like to think there is an element of maths to this activity, while the kids frantically try to work out which letter has the greatest surface area so that they can choose the biggest cookie!

Since I know you are all such a creative bunch, do you have any more fun ideas for learning the alphabet?

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