May 30, 2007

WFMW – Teaching Alphabet and Numbers

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:02 pm by ogle3

For a short time I was planning to teach high school Spanish; I ended up majoring in literature and teaching high school English.  In order to teach either of these languages, the best technique is immersion, which probably requires very little technique, but lots and lots of real world practice. 

Since Peyton is only 3 years old, we didn’t really plan on teaching him his letters and numbers, but it kind of just started to happen, so I figured we might as well jump in – he was having so much fun, and he was so proud of his success, why not!  He has loved learning his letters and numbers because all the learning happens based on what we’re doing around the house.  

A quick disclaimer and request – I’ve read various posts from those who are obsessed with starting school early and from those who want to delay school as long as possible.  Please please please don’t teach your kids that school is boring or learning is work.  The very best thing you can do for yourself, your child, and your child’s future teachers (:-) would be to teach that learning is fun, even if it doesn’t seem fun…even learning facts in a lecture can be fun in that the facts themselves are amazing and interesting.  Our experience actually summarizes the past few months; whenever we saw a teachable moment, we took it.

We started with his name, and we added a bit of rhythm to make it more memorable (which is also helpful when teaching Bible memory verses)…unfortunately, I can’t type rythm to give you the example 🙂  We would write it on everything we could, or we would help him to type it on the computer, or he would point to the magnet letters on the fridge.  He quickly memorized “P for Peyton,” and after a brief time he could recite and recognize all the letters in his name.  Then we talked about letters for his loved ones – M for mommy, D for Daddy, and all of our other family and friends.  Then we started reading alphabet books (Dr. Seuss’s is really fun), and he helps me to read the book when we get to each letter.  We also bought some alphabet posters (like teachers put above or below the chalk board) on ebay and put them in our hallway, so he begged to “jump” the alphabet on the way to his room: we’d say the sound (crescendo) and then jump…a a a a a A A A  Alligator!  bbbbBBBB Bear!  I often hear him in the hallway by himself singing the alphabet song while pointing to the letters.  We also have an aqua doodle that has a flip-chart with instructions for writing the letters, and each letter has a picture made out of the letter, corresponding with the letter.  For example, L is probably easiest because it isn’t hard to imagine how a few extra lines could be added to the letter L to make it into a ladder.  He likes writing letters with me because it’s coloring with Mommy, not boring or stressful.  He loves to type his name or email loved ones or talk about the letters on the computer keyboard, and he also has his own little kid’s “laptop” from Gramma and Papa, and on one of the games (one of the three he’s old enough to understand), he pushes the button and it gives the letter and a word to go with it.  He’s SO excited when he sees letters on magazines or other books or stores or signs while we run errands.  He’s so proud of himself!

Numbers have been easy, too.  We play hide and seek in the house, but since he’s too little to play the real way, we’ve mixed it with Marco Polo.  He counts to 10 (I count to 20), then he yells “Marco!” and I yell back from my hiding place “Polo!”  It’s a lot of fun, and he has 1-10 nailed, and he only misses a few numbers when counting to 20.  Another teachable moment occurs daily in the car.  He loves the Beatles One CD, and at first he’d ask for the song, and I would change it to the number and tell him which number it was (“Oh, you want number two?).  Since then he’s memorized which songs correspond to which numbers, so he’ll ask for number 6, Hard Days Night, or number 14, Cry-turn (Paperback writer).  He knows when I’m fooling him, which is sometimes unfortunate, as I’d like to listen to more than one song 🙂  Tonight he helped me with the microwave and counted backwards from 9 to 1 many times as the timer counted down.  He also loves to check the clocks and tell us what “time” it is.  Like with the letters, out and about he points at signs and talks about the numbers, and again, he’s so proud of what he’s learning.

I know he doesn’t need to know it yet, but if he’s interested enough to want to talk about it, why not get the head start?  And he’s so proud of himself, as all pre-schoolers desire to be, so it definitely works for both of us.  For more WFMW ideas, check out rocks in my dryer.

Other toys you may have around the house that help to learn numbers or letters – remote controls, old telephones, old keyboards, be creative!

I noticed a few interesting occurences during our learning –

1- he thought the alphabet went “…h-i-jebble…”  Thanks alphabet-song creator.

2- he sometimes switches numbers around (61 instead of 16).  This is actually pretty normal for little kids who maybe haven’t mastered the “left to right, top to bottom” reading.

3 – his memory amazes me!



  1. Gramma said,

    I am glad he “grew into” using his little computer!
    Gramma “Mom”

  2. MamaToo said,

    Great post! Our 3-year old thought “ella-emo” was the three letters in the middle… 🙂
    We’ve done similar activities with our boys, not intentionally “teaching,” but using learning opportunities as they came! A couple additional ideas:
    we write letters on his tummy or legs with foamy soap (at bathtime) and massage oil (after bath). He loves this.
    we used play-doh to roll into long “snakes” and then made letters out of them

  3. Janelle said,

    James told me about your blog so just zipping thru. My oldest daughter just turned four and is showing interest in wanting to learn to read. All I can say is I sure wish I would have taught her the lower case alphabet first instead of upper or maybe even taught them at the same time. p, q, g, d and b can be pretty confusing. If books were all caps she’d probably be on her way to reading already. Just my two cents on the topic 🙂
    Happy parenting,

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