Playing with letters is a better way for children to learn

Children love to play, so why not combine a bit of fun with the wondrous world of letters and sounds?

Children can explore the letters and sounds of the alphabet at a young age so learning the alphabet can be a wonderful adventure. Families are essential partners in teaching childhood literacy skills. Children learn and develop most effectively through all of their senses while using their whole body, and their natural environments. Because of this we encourage you to play with language and have fun with your child.

Gloop recipe

You will need:
  • 2 cups cornflour
  • 1 cup cold water
Pour the cornflour into a bowl. Add the cold water slowly, stirring constantly and stop when the water is barely absorbed by the cornflour. Gloop is wonderful to play with. It can be scooped up with the fingers, but flows like liquid back into the bowl. You can also avoid those messy mishaps as it brushes off clothing as a dry powder.

Fun ways to learn

Hear

1. Pick a letter and help your child to listen to the sound that the letter makes. Use words that start with the same letter and see how many words they can think of that starts with the letter. 2. Read aloud with your child every day and remember to place emphasis on the words that start with that letter or that have the letter in them. 3. Play I-spy using the sound of that particular letter. 4. Listening to music can also help your child to recognise words in the songs that start with the letter.

See

1. Help your children to notice the letter in the world around them by showing your child examples of the letter in the names of friends and family, books, store names, product names, signs, magazines and recipe books. 2. Make letters on their plates using food or snacks like carrot strips, snake lollies, crackers, cheese strips, spaghetti, etc. Use cookie cutters and cut the letter from pieces of bread. 3. Create the letter in sand, gloop or paint for them to see.

Say

1. Ask your child to repeat the letter and letter sound after you have said it. 2. Ask your child which letter specific words start with, using words that all start with the same letter until a variety of letters have been learnt. Point to a letter and ask your child what letter it is.

Touch

1. Create opportunities for your child to trace the letter using their fingers and toes. 2. Allow a variety of tactile experiences by using different media (for example, using sand, gloop, food, sand paper, paint, material, playdough or batter for them to trace).

Create

1. Ask your child to create the letter out of play dough, batter, matchsticks, food, pipe cleaners, wire, boxes, nature (sticks, stones or shells), gloop, in bread with cookie cutters, etc. 2. Your child can even use the limbs of their body to create the letter.

Write

1. Encourage your child to write the letter using his/her fingers or toes in paint, sand, gloop, water, and the air. 2. Ask your child to write the letter using a crayon, paint brush, feather, matchstick or cotton earbuds.

Read

1. Read a variety of books with your child and together you can identify the new letter learnt, as well as the sound that it makes. 2. Show your child a variety of two-letter and three-letter words that start with that letter or that have the letter in them and read the words together. 3. Identify the letter in the names of friends and family, store names, product names, signs, magazines and recipe books, then help your child to read the words.
Emma Loggenberg runs a company called Mighty Minds. She has a Masters in Educational Psychology, a Graduate Diploma in Teaching, and has completed advanced courses in Play Therapy. www.mightyminds.co.nz
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