Hello parents! We all know that teaching-learning of alphabets can be tedious most of the time, especially to the young child. What would you say parents, if you find a play-way method to teach and learn the ABC?
At four years, your child is cognitively ready to climb the first step in learning the alphabets. He has picked up advanced sensory and cognitive skills after toddlerhood .This has been kept in mind while creating activities and games as part of the play –way method in this article.
Pointers and suggestions are given herein. But if you feel even a wee bit adventurous, do create some of your own play activities by using the cognitive skills of a four year old, given in the box. It will be most satisfying if you involve your child in the making of the “props” for the activities.
- That the lower case English language alphabets have been used for demonstration. Feel free to transfer the methods of learning alphabets using the language of your choice.
Highlights of cognitive skill at four years
*Idea of same and different.
*Sorts objects by shape and color.
*Recognizes and identifies common objects and pictures.
*Correctly names at least 3 colors and 4 shapes.
*Recognizes some letters and learns to write his name.
*Recognizes familiar word e.g. STOP at a traffic signal.
*Enjoys singing rhymes and making up words.
*Is curious, inquisitive and creative.
Applications of principles of learning to practice
- One type of skill your child shows is that he recognizes some familiar words like “STOP” in the streets.
- Therefore the first thing you can do is familiarize the child to created labels which will become familiar words to him as he sees them every day. Do label some of your child’s belongings such as his desk, clothes cupboard and shoe rack with their names.
- You can also stick your child’s name on the door of his room or on his bed.
- Whenever you take him on a familiar road, look for signs such as” turn right, go and car.” If there are pictures within the signs, the child learns by association of a words/letter to its picture.
- Your child first listens to the sound of a letter, recognizes it, and then learns to name it. He must go through these stages to ultimately learn the concept of the letter in question. This is the first step to learning reading and writing.Since a four year old likes to sing songs and recite rhymes, one can put this to good use.
- You can sing with him English alphabet songs from time to time. It helps your child to listen to the sound of the letters.
- Make a cluster of alphabets like “d, e, f, g” and make one liners using each letter, perhaps like a jingle and let your child sing it with appropriate facial expressions and hand movements, again and again. .An example would be to use the tune of the famous English song namely, “Doe a deer a female deer”
Your jingle could go like,
D for deer, it is here
E my very little earF is our fan that gives us air
G for goat, run little goat
That would bring us back to D, oh oh oh.
- Now make other clusters and sing to the tune of other songs. You can of course make your own tunes.
- Your child understands the concept of same and different.
You can make clusters of alphabets by using a letter from which many letters can come out by little tweaks and additions, here and there.
An example: The letter c will form many letters.
T he letter c will give:
e, by an inward turn at the top which you join at the curve.
a, by making a tail with a slight outward curve
o, by having an inverted curve join it from top to bottom.
s, by an inverted curve joining it at the bottom.
Other clusters are:
n ,u, m ,w
p, j, y, g, q
l, t, h, f, k, b, d
Whereas, v, x, and z will have these types of lines,
and, i and r stand on their own.
Like this you can make your own clusters.
- A child learns concepts through three stages i.e. Matching, Recognition and Naming.
An example for learning sounds of the letters has been already given above. A mixed bag of activities is given below for learning the letters through these three stages.
- Draw two columns on an ‘A ‘sized paper and write 5 to 7 alphabets serially in one column. In the next column write the same letters but change the order’
Ask your child to match each letter in the two columns, by joining them.
- Draw big enough geometric shapes/letters/write his name on the paper/floor other surface and ask your child to place different types of materials as in a rangoli outline.
Another way is to draw/copy semi circles/ rounds/ different types of lines on paper, for practicing the curves and lines required in writing the letters.
- Hide about 4 letters in a room and keep a set of the same alphabets in a plate. Let your child go on a treasure hunt for the hidden letters in different places .When he finds them he should match them with the ones kept in the plate.
- Play bingo with 9 letters drawn (use a very big paper) in one/two/ three rows on a paper. You or your child can draw letters one by one, from a bowl and match it with the same one on the paper, till all letters are matched. This is possible if your child recognizes the one in his hand and crosses the same letter on the square paper.
- The child can fish for letters written on thick paper/cardboard about 2” squares (with U pins stuck on one side) in a receptacle, using a string tied to a magnet. Letters can be dug out from sand in a bowl.
- Letters can also be removed one by one, from a deep bag.
For Nos. 3, 4 and 5 above, your child can:
* match the letters after taking them out to the ones already laid out in a line.
* after making a pile of collected letter, he can hand over the letter called out by you, called out by you.
*make a simple word, if you have placed three letters. e.g. cat, bat.
- For knowing the sounds of letters, lay out letters A and B on the table some distance apart.
Keep aside a pile of 3 letter words which begin with A or a B. Your child has to pick a word and decide if it belongs under letter A or B. He has to read the word aloud (only if he can) or just place it under letter A or B as the case may be.
- If you design physical games for learning letters, it would be most enjoyable to your child.
- You can draw a huge enough circle, for your child to run on.
First you have to draw 3 letters on separate 3” squares which if placed in order will make up a word.
Your child has to pick out a “ticket letter” from this pile of 3, in the middle of the circle and run on /around it, to music. When the music stops, he has to collect the letter and put it aside. He can thus have 3 rounds of running and at the end, make a word from all the letters he has collected. He may or may not require your help in putting together the word.
- Your child and his friends running around a big circle to music will be another game. The circle will have 4 stops marked in advance by the letters of their choice. When the music stops, the children will try to reach the nearest stop and call out the name of their station. One stop will be rubbed out each time the music stops, till only one child is left. Since at this age we do not want to have winners and losers, the last remaining child will get to distribute a small package to each child that has the done up letter from which his /her name begins , and, 2 to 3 chikees (instead of sweets) wrapped in silver/ decorative paper.
Do remember to announce the pleasant duty of the last remaining child before you begin the game!
Note: At 4 years, children do not follow strictly the rules of the game. Let them make the best of it. The idea is to read the letters.
A word of caution
The process of teaching learning of alphabets will take some time to culminate in a child’s learning all the alphabets. Be patient with your child and create games and activities using you creativity and spontaneity. Only a few examples are mentioned in this article.
Do remember to go slow and easy. Start with the basics or first level and fewer materials. Increase the level of difficulty for your child as you go along and understand your child and his level of functioning.
Don’t forget to let the child practice each step/stage as much as is required for his learning.
Here is wishing you all the best of luck in helping your four year olds learn the alphabets.