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Friday, May 16, 2014

Learn About the Alphabet through play using Upper & Lower Case Felt Letter Set

This article was published for Playtime Felts. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

My daughter is only two, but she is already getting the understanding that letters mean something. She sees writing and she asks me- what’s this? Constantly. She is just a sponge for information these days.

She still calls numbers and letters "numbas" but she gets that there is something there. We are reading to her on a regular basis, and we try to keep our fingers on the letters as we read them, so she can get the sense of what it means on paper. I suspect that she is ready to take the next step to begin using letters herself, to start identifying them.

This is where the Upper & Lower Case Felt Letter Set from Playtime felts is very helpful.
The set allows kids to touch the letters, trace their fingers on them, flip them about to help recognize the correct orientation and play. (Learning should be fun after all!) My daughter has always been very interested in touching things, even from a very early age. She picks stuff up, turns it over and over in her hands examining every aspect of the item. I find felt to be a very satisfying material to play with myself, so certainly these will be the same.

There is a lot of flexibility possible with these letters.  

Here are a few ideas I am planning to use, and have read about.
·         We have a felt Christmas tree and turkey for Thanksgiving. It would be great when she is older to use the letters to make messages to us on the felt. Right now, she can just play. We intend to make a felt board for every holiday and season, so the letters will always be in use all year long.

·         This set has enough letters to make my daughter's name, so we can teach her that early on. She already has her name on her bedroom wall, so she could practice lining up the letters to match her name. (I like having soft toys in the bedroom- it keeps it as a quiet area for her.)

·         And speaking of quiet… Felt letters are always a part of every quiet book I have ever seen. Don't want to bring all the letters on a trip? Just bring the vowels, and incorporate vowel lessons in the pages of the quiet book. You can have a few pages for each letter, and still cover a valuable lesson.

·         If you want to have a little time to yourself in the kitchen, you can take the felt letters and clip them with a magnetic clip. My daughter ADORES magnets and moving them about on the fridge. It will be a quick transition to learn the order of the letters and how to spell words eventually.  If lets parents do some cooking or cleaning while the little one is learning and playing with the letters.

·         I have been reading up on Montessori methods for my daughter- these letters are very useful to help employ the methods. Apparently, there is a traditional way of introducing letters, and that is to teach the names of the letters to the child. The Montessori approach as I understand it, is to use the lower case letters first, and then introduce the sounds they make, and not introduce the names of the letters until the child is 3 or more.  I like this idea and it makes sense to me. It sets the groundwork to read by teaching sounding out instead of just memorization which is not as dependable in my mind.

·         Older kids can match up the letters to items that you might place on a tray or mat. The A can be placed next to an apple for example. But the creativity doesn’t need to end there. You can set your child up with a blanket on the floor and have them do their own alphabet scavenger hunt in the house. They find their own items to match up with the letters.  I don’t know about you, but Z is going to be a killer at our house! You may not see your kids for hours as they go around trying to find something. (Luckily we have a xylophone, so that one won’t be hard;)

I am getting excited about this one already. I am imagining my adult friends doing this at a Halloween party or such. They would be roaming all over trying to finish the game! Even adults have something they can learn.

If you are lacking imagination there are literally THOUSANDS of posts on Pinterest to help fire you up. Learning the alphabet can be so much fun when using tools that are inspiring to a child. Quality materials last for years and are reached for time and time again!