A collection of activities, games and more
Have you ever taught English to a group of infants or toddlers? I haven’t. My youngest pupils are at least 5 years old. However, I am a mum to a baby girl whom I want to raise bilingually. As a result, I want to read more about teaching infants and toddlers a second language in their natural environment. In my opinion, second language can be successfully acquired in the very early stage of childhood. More about this topic can be found in ‘Raising a bilingual child’ by Barbara Zurer Pearson.
Children are very curious, so this curiosity works for us. Now, let’s think how to take advantage of it. Alphabet is usually introduced while playing different games with lots of associations. Letters are some kind of secret code for little ones. Decoding them can be a special mission ;) Consequently, teaching alphabet can be easily started before a child goes to school.
Before a child sees the graphic representation of letters, it is a good idea to play different speaking games.
The first game that naturally comes to my mind is ‘I spy with my little eye…’
You can download pictures like the one above as a visual aid. Yet, it won’t be necessary if you play the game outside, for example in a shop or while travelling by car.
Another speaking game can be to say a word that finishes on the previous word’s last letter. Maybe this game has a proper name, but honestly, I’m not familiar with it.
Obviously, children are not aware of silent letters; they just hear the last sound and try to come up with the new word beginning of this sound.
It’s a nice game for children even for older ones 😊
looks like this…
It’s absolutely up to you to decide when it’s time to show how the letters look like. However, most pre-schoolers aged 3-4 will recognise letters and match them with the sounds.
But before they are able to do that, we (parents, teachers, caregivers) should present written letters in many different games as a part of everyday routine.
One of the most popular ways of showing letters is by playing toys with children. I bet that some of your child’s toys have letters on them. You do not have to be focused on teaching the alphabet, but sometimes just mention ‘Oh, look it’s letter A’, ‘A like apple’, etc.
SHAPES OF LETTERS - SENSORY PLAY
Are you a fan of sensory play? I won’t be explaining here all the benefits of ‘getting dirty’ 😉 but this can be a nice way of ‘writing’ letters for your toddler.
Edible paint – a nice recipe and ideas for activities are at Tinker’s Lab
Pasta for making
shapes of letters
sand, flour, shaving foam…
Another way of practising the alphabet and play different games with it is by using flashcards. Recently, I've purchased an incredible set of soft cards on Aliexpress.com
I was really surprised by how nice they are. Cards are very colourful and seem to be durable. The only thing that disappointed me a little was their size. I didn’t expect them to be this small. Anyway, I still have many ideas on how to exploit them fruitfully.
the words – word chain game
Put the letters
in the alphabetical order
letter on something that begins with it
I have also two sets of paper flashcards with marine animals and vehicles.
I haven’t used them for now, but I definitely will. The simplicity of the pictures speaks to me. They are perfect for theme lessons or parties. I will probably show how we play with them but not sooner than in a year or two 😉
BOOKS AND WORKSHEETS
When your child is able to hold a pencil or crayon, you can eagerly hand into him/her a worksheet with tracing activities. It is easy to prepare such aid on your own. Still, there are many free websites where you can create your own tracing sheets. Try A to Z teacher stuff or Soft Schools to print different exercising on each letter of the alphabet.
Printing each letter can be tiring and of course no eco-friendly! There are plenty of books with pages prepared to be wiped and written again. The wipe-clean books – that’s how they are called. Usborne has some interesting ones. Click here to check their catalogues.
*You can laminate printed worksheets and reuse them as many times as you need!
One of the toys factories Fisher Price has a very interesting online game for infants and toddlers. Personally, I am not for giving technology and interactive toys to children below 2yo. However, if you decide to use smartphones or tablets with your kiddos, try this game.
The game is
suitable for children in kindergartens and can be efficiently used in language
I want to explore the topic of alphabet songs in a separate article. Stay tuned! 🎶
More alphabet activities for toddlers can be found on this blog: Busy Toddler.com
What is your favourite way of playing with the alphabet? Share some more ideas in comments!