She was drawing tiny pictures on small Post-It Note sheets, and I was trying to organize the mountains of papers that had recently found their way to our table. After I watched her color on her “tickets” for a bit, I decided to jump in and use some of them to play with the letters of her name.
- Post-It Note Name: I wrote each letter of her name on one tiny Post-It Note. Then I put them at the top of a piece of construction paper.
I said, Cora, here are the very special letters of your name–C, O, R, A. Let’s say the letters together. C-O-R-A.
Then I mixed up the letters and said, Oh no! Now your letters are all mixed up. Let’s put them back in the correct order. Hmmmmm. I know your first letter is ‘C’. Is this a ‘C’ (I pointed to the C) or is this the ‘C’ (I pointed to the A).
Right! Here is your first letter–C. Will you move it down here for me?
Next, I said, Your next letter is ‘O’, which is Owen’s letter. Is this an O, or is this an O? Then, Which one is your ‘R’ and which is your ‘A’? Right. Now let’s put the letters in the right spots so your name is spelled!
I’ve talked about giving children choices before; rather than set them up for making a mistake or asking them a close-ended question, I’ve always learned that having them make a conscious decision about their answer is the best route.
After her name was spelled and the letters were in the correct order, I mixed them up again, and each time she put them in order, I facilitated less and less so that the last time we did it, she did it on her own correctly.
Little ones most often learn the letters of the alphabet, followed by the first letter of their names (and often the first letters of their family members’ names), followed by the spelling of their names It’s a word that means the most to them, so it makes sense that they’d want to “own” it right off the bat.
And any games we can play with “their” letters–whether it’s re-arranging magnetic letters, letter blocks, or foam letters in the bathtub, helps them learn this lesson in a fun way.
And that’s that. It’s a busy month of celebrations for us, with Maddy’s birthday and the Christmas holiday, so any teeny-tiny bit of learning I can sneak in–when I’m not sweeping tinsel off of the floor or scrambling to make treats for this or that–makes me happy!