How to Teach Your Preschooler the Alphabet Through Play

How to Teach Your Preschooler the Alphabet
 

Do you think it is possible for a two year old child to learn the entire alphabet- all of the letters and sounds, out of order- just through play, without ever doing any flash card types of activities?  Well it IS possible!  And today I am going to tell you how one mom did it, just by reading, playing, and singing with her child on a regular basis since birth.  Don’t believe it?  We have a couple of videos that will show you that it can be done!

A couple of weeks ago, a mom by the name of Heather contacted me on my HeidiSongs Facebook page and uploaded a cute little video of her children dancing to Alphabet Action, a song from my Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds DVD.  She said,

“Hi Heidi!
Thought you would like to see my 2 and a half year old and 1 and a half year old doing their alphabet songs! They love “Ms.Heidi”! I brought brought my videos home over the summer and they were hooked!  We have to watch the alphabet songs and numbers/shapes at least twice a day!”

 

I was curious to know how many letters and sounds her two year old knew by now, so I asked her, and she replied,  “Yes…a couple are in consistent. Many of the sounds too.”

So I asked her if she could find out how many he really knew accurately, and she agreed to do that and video tape it for me!  She said that it truly was the FIRST time she had done flash cards with him, and it was only because I had asked her to find out how many letters and sounds he knew.  And it turns out, he knew just about every single letter and sound, with very little hesitation or correction necessary!

The first video below is her child telling her the upper case letters and sounds. The second is of him telling her the lower case letters.  He is so cute the way he jumps every time he says a letter name!  I think that he did a great job sticking with the entire alphabet, especially considering that he is only two years old!

 

 

I think that Heather’s story is a GREAT one and an awesome testimonial on the power of learning through play in an enriching environment, coupled with an adult that is continually talking with the children about the letters and sounds, and is making an effort to make sure that those letters are all over the house, and reading to the children constantly.  This is totally different than children left to play alone while the caregiver talks on the phone or sits on social media all day, ignoring the children, with the television on in the background.  Children do indeed learn through play, but focused adult interaction is the key.

So I asked Heather if she would share with us how she taught her two year old the alphabet and sounds.  I am sharing her guest blog post with you below in italics, and am sharing any other comments of my own in the regular font.   She also was nice enough to supply some photos of her lovely children in action.  Enjoy!

*******

Two Year Old Dancing to HeidiSongs DVD
 

How I Taught My Two Year Old the Alphabet
My two year knows more of his letters and letter sounds than many of the Kindergartners I start teaching every year! As an early childhood educator, I wanted to start early on developing my son’s literacy skills. When practicing letters we have always included the sounds. This past summer I brought home my Heidi Songs Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds DVD for my then 2 year old (25 months) son. The first time he watched it was on our trip to Florida and he was hooked! Since bringing home the DVD’s we watch the letter songs and or number/ shape songs everyday (and now the new Colors and Shapes DVD)!   It is something I could put on while I showered or folded some laundry that would keep my boy’s attention and help them learn at the same time. Now my younger son (18 months) begs for “letters” just as much as he does for Mickey to be on TV. He is just beginning to become more interested in learning letters. “Ms. Heidi” is famous in our house!

My husband and I have never sat down and “drilled” letters with our son. (The videos we taped for this blog was the first time we have ever done flashcards with him.)  We have only ever practiced with him in play situations. We never push him to play these activities and when he loses interest we move onto something else.  In the beginning sometimes 2 minutes was all he was interested in.

Here are some examples of activities we do with our children:

1. Sing
Ever since my oldest was born I sang songs from HeidiSongs, because they were always in my head from singing them with my kindergartner’s everyday at school. I sang the B song the most because it is the first letter of his name.

Two Year Old Dancing to HeidiSongs DVD
 

2. Letters Around the House
Around his 1st birthday I started hanging a letter each week around the house in both upper and lowercase, 3 lowercase and 3 uppercase on Post-it Notes.  Whenever we went into a room with the letter I always pointed it out to my son. “There’s /a/ /a/ A!” By the end of the week he could say it when I asked him.

How to Turn the Alphabet into Environmental Print
 

3. LeapFrog Letter Factory Phonics
 I also bought the LeapFrog Letter Factory Phonics. (*Note: This does not have lowercase letters.) This kept his attention for a couple of letters.  His favorite one was L and the alphabet song it plays.

Leapfrog Letters
 

4. Environmental Print
In the car we always talk about the signs we see.  My oldest son’s favorite store is Kroger (a local grocery store) and he has been able to point out this sign he sees in places we rarely go or driving down the highway since he was about 18 months.

Two Year Old Identifying Environmental Print
 

5. Letter Matching
I took an idea I saw on Pinterest and made sun-bleached letter mats for him to match magnet letters to.  (This idea is from Pre-K Pages– an excellent resource for all things regarding preschool and pre-k!)

Letter Matching with Sun Bleached Alphabet Puzzles
 

6. Read, Read, Read!
We have book bins on all three floors of our house. If there is a book our boys bring to us to read we stop and read to them. (Let’s be honest, many of the books only take a minute to get through!) We always read before nap and bedtime.

Keeping books in tubs is a GREAT way to organize books for preschoolers!
Keeping books in tubs is a GREAT way to organize books for preschoolers!  They can dump them out, to look at them, and it won’t matter!  They can also help to put them away easily.
 

We are already applying these types of activities to other early learning skills such as rhyming, numbers, shapes and colors. Thank goodness there are Heidi Songs for these concepts, too!

Two Year Old Choosing a Book
 

*Heather C. has taught Pre-K for 2 years, 1st grade for 1 year and Kindergarten for the last 7 years.  Her 2 boys are now 21/2 years (32 months) and 18 months old. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education, Early Intervention Specialist and a Reading Endorsement.

 

Letters and Sounds Animated DVD

 

Number Jumble Animated DVD

 

Colors and Shapes Animated DVD

 


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Heidi Butkus

About Heidi Butkus

Heidi Butkus has been teaching in California public schools since 1985. She has somehow managed to stay in Kindergarten all of those years, with the exception of five years in first grade, and also taught a parent participation preschool for a short while! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. She has presented at conferences nationwide, and is the owner and founder of HeidiSongs.com. Heidi has also created fourteen original CD's and DVD's for teaching beginning reading and math skills, three musical plays designed especially for young performers, and has written some picture books and many other teaching resources. Heidi's multimedia workshops are filled with fun and motivational educational activities that have been classroom tested and revised for effectiveness with all types of learners.
  1. Wowie, wow, wow!!!!! This is amazing! Can only imagine how great this makes you feel Heidi!!! Heather, you are an awesome mom and I love seeing this!

  2. I bought your CD for letter sound song, WOW, it’s amazing. The children loves your song and we have been sing and learn alphabet from your song.
    They remember the letter and the sound easily. But I am sorry I did not take any video when my class sing the song. Last year the children learn the song for open house the center. Parents came and they were surprised how the children learn very fast with this song. And I have one child adopted from China, she can sing the letter sound A too.
    Thank you for sharing your hard work.

    Tina

  3. What cuties! I loved how the little brother was watching his big brother for a lot of the video. It reminded me of when I had 2 little boys close together in age. I didn’t have Heidi songs back then, but they also learned letters and sounds through play. I will definitely by using Heidi songs with my grandkids though! My kindergartners are learning so much through Heidi songs. We LOVE Heidi songs!

  4. Just wanted to thank you again .Your information on how to help the preschoolres in my class should help me a great deal.

  5. This is great! I am a grandmother and a three year old preschool teacher and I would love to purchase these videos. Where to I get them?

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