Being able to simply recognize and name the letters of the alphabet is not the key to absolute reading success.
However, research has proven that when children can identify letter names before they actually hit big-time school, it’s a strong predictor of later reading achievement (Bradley & Jones, “Sharing Alphabet Books in Early Childhood Classrooms,” in February 2007’s The Reading Teacher). I’d say that playing games with the ole letters of the alphabet is well worth our time.
So we’ve been doing a lot with our trusty Alphabet Cards lately, so it was only natural that when I (finally!) took down our Summertime Fun Cards to keep them for next year, we’d need to figure out a way to use that black string still tied to our railing. . .
- ABC Cards and Clothespin Match: We had the bag of alphabet cards just hanging around since Owen and Cora have insisted on playing some form of ABC Hide-and-Seek almost every day for the last ten days.
So I decided to mix things up a bit, pull out a huge pack of clothespins that I had picked up at the store a while back, and voila! ABC Cards and Clothespin Match was born!
While I wrote the uppercase letters on the tops of clothespins, Owen and Cora sorted the uppercase letter cards from the lowercase letter cards. Such a simple but worthwhile activity!–we could have stopped there and called it a day and both kiddos would have had a little bit o’ alphabet practice, but we trucked on. . .
And then we set the lowercase letters aside, and Cora started to ‘hunt’ for the first three letters of the alphabet while Owen put the clothespins in order on the string.
When all of the alphabet clothespins were lined up, I asked Cora, Okay, let’s get these Alphabet Cards up on their matching clothespins. Can you find the letter A or B for me? (Always giving two choices sets kiddos up for success. . . )
She had the letter ‘A’ ready, so I asked her to clip it to the correct clothespin. She really, really, really loved this part, and clothespin pinching is great fine motor work for tiny fingers!
Cora checks her ‘H’–card to clothespin.
Each time she picked up an Alphabet Card, she’d match it to the clothespin to make sure she was correct. Then she’d pinch, add the card, and move on.After about ‘J’, Cora was d-o-n-e, which was fine. I was really excited that she was interested that long, to be honest, and I was (literally!) dancing around the living room because she did have quite a bit of success in finding the first few letters.
Owen picked up where Cora left off, and he matched the rest of the alphabet with very little problem. We are moving onto bigger and better things for him, but I am always–always!–down for practicing these way-too-important letters any time he’s up for it!
By the time the whole alphabet was hung, it really looked beautiful, and my truly nerdy teacher heart stopped every time one of the kids walked by and sang the ABC Song.
Cora has been doing it a few times a day since it’s been up, and although she gets all crazy around LMNOP (like so many kids!), she usually picks up again at ‘Q’. And if I’m close by when she does it, I just sing it with her and point to the letters as I do it. That’s it!
But boo-hoo! the letter garland had to come down today so that I could paint the railing (a looong overdue project. . . ), but it’ll go right back up when the paint dries. And for good reason, too–this super-sneaky learning proved to reap big benefits both in fine motor skill practice and in alphabet letter recognition.
Although simply recognizing alphabet letter names is only one facet of truly knowing and understanding the letters of the alphabet, it’s an easy–and clearly FUN!–way of helping to build a foundation for future learning in our kiddos.
Want a few more alphabet activities? Check out:
- backyard alphabet hunt
- homemade alphabet book
- leafy letter learning
- ABC hunt
- on the road ABC hunt
- lowercase ABC hunt
- build your own bingo: uppercase and lowercase match
- ABC cards and clothespin match
- alphabet letter splash
- alphabingo (play with lowercase letters)
- alphabet letter lids
- leafy outdoor alphabet hunt
- build your own board game
- clothespin letter match
- 10 fun ways to learn the alphabet
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