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In an attempt to perfect the knowledge of a Russian alphabet in my (now perfectly) bilingual almost-three year old, I came up with this game:

Firstly, we cut letter shapes out of colorful paper. If your child is a toddler, you will probably need to hold his/her scissors, while they are cutting. Make sure the scissors are toddler-safe. Then, we move the letters into groups, which we sort by color. This way, we end up with a pile of green letters, a pile of blue letters, a pile of yellow ones, etc… Then we make words, putting the letters from each pile together.

Lets take our yellow pile, for example. Lemon is yellow. Squash can be yellow. ¬†So, using this logic, we take our yellow letters and spell the names of yellow objects. Then, we move to the red pile and spell words, like “strawberry,” or “tomato.”

Finally, we group our words together. We move all of the “fruit” words into a group and we move all the “vegetable” words into another group. Someties, we take this one step further and “make a salad” or a “soup.” We think about the ingredients for the dish and move the names of those ingredients together on the table.

Since toddlers are notorious for having short attention spans, this game can extend over three hours. We make some letters, we play with the trucks, we make some words, we play with our brother and sister, we make some more words, we throw a little tantrum. ūüôā This game teaches fine motor skills, color recognition, shape recognition, letter recognition, object recognition and conceptual thinking.

When we are done, we put all of our letters in a box, so that we can continue playing this or a different letter game later.

 

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First of all, to help with future reading, it’s a lot easier to learn letters as phonetic sounds, as opposed to as letter names. ¬†Secondly, you need to figure out if your child learns better by hearing, by making things or while moving. Or maybe he or she learns in another special way? Once you know your child’s learning preferences, you’d be able to better teach them. My son loves to be in motion. He also learns through feeling: he likes to literally touch what he is learning. This means that we learn on the go and we learn while building things that we can touch. We walk and sing a “letter song, while we are walking. ¬†We build garages for his toy cars in shape of a letter “G” ¬†for “garage.” Sometimes it’s letter “B” -“big garage.”

Here are some of my suggestions.  Feel free to comment with yours:

1. Write letters on index cards and hide those all over the house. When your child finds a card, ask: “What letter is this?” and, “Which word starts with this letter?”

2. Make letters out of play dough together. Make letters out of paper. Make letter out of bread. Cut letters out of vegetables. Making letters is better for kiniesthetic children, that learn better by doing. I have one of these, so we make a lot of letters!

3. Create a special song for each letter and sing it throughout the day. Like: ¬†“A is an Apple, B is a Boy.” You can group two-three letters into each song. Melody is wonderful for getting things into the brain. I credit my knowledge of English to American songs: they really helped me learn the language (I also speak Russian, Hebrew and French.)

4. Create something that helps your child to associate a particular letter with the particular object. Take “W,” for example. Yesterday we made a pretty W by cutting it out of green and red papers, sticking those on top of each other and saying that “W is a watermelon.”
You can take a cucumber and cut a nice “C” on it’s skin with a knife.

5. Make sure you learn letters every day at a set time. If you make the process fun, your child will eagerly anticipate both the ritual and the lesson.

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