Many children begin their exploration of letters and the alphabet with the quintessential “ABC” song. While it’s a catchy tune and popular at any gathering of young children, does it really help children understand the basics of reading and writing?
Instead of working to memorize this litany of letter names, we invite you to try some alternative alphabet activities: Sound games!
Here are three games to play at home, or anywhere for that matter, to help your child begin to listen for and identify the individual sounds that make up words. Give them a try!
Begin by thinking of items in a category, for example “animals with tails.” You might lead off with, “I’ll start. Mouse! mmmmmMouse starts with mmm. What’s another animal with a tail?” When your child thinks of one, and each time there’s a follow up, identify the first sound you hear in that word. “Fox” “ffffFox! Yes! A fox does have a tail! What does fffffFox start with?”
Extrapolate the Sound
For this game, the object is to begin with a sound and keep thinking up new names, objects or words that also begin with that letter sound. For example, “I’m thinking of someone in our family whose name begins with dddd. Who is it? Dad. Yes! ddddDad starts with ddd. What else starts with d?” Try using letter sounds that your child is familiar with, for example the first sound in their own name or that of a sibling.
A classic activity, but this time with an alphabet twist. Instead of identifying an object by its color or location, spy an object by it’s first letter sound. “I spy with my little eye…something beginning with fff. Yes! It’s ffffFlower! Now it’s your turn.”
By playing games that give your child an opportunity to listen for and identify sounds all around them, they’ll be better prepared to sound out each letter of a word when it’s time to begin writing!
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