“Now I Know My ABCs…”

It struck me this morning as Ian was putting together his alphabet train puzzle that someone looking at this blog might think Bible stories and literature are the only parts of our “school” experience.  I haven’t really used a formal structured curriculum for teaching basics like the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, etc. (although they’re all included in the ABC Jesus Loves Me lesson plans).  We just have lots of activities and books around the house that provide exposure to those concepts, so Ian has learned a lot that way (and Elijah is quickly catching on as well).

Here are a few of the things you’ll find around our house (not everything listed made it into the pictures):


  • Alphabet train floor puzzle by Melissa & Doug
  • Upper and lowercase wooden puzzle by Melissa & Doug
  • Alphabet caterpillar puzzle (inherited from Grandma when she retired from teaching Kindergarten)
  • tactile letter cards (I inherited upper and lowercase sets, but I know people have made their own or bought them on Amazon.)
  • My First Steps to Reading series (recommended in the ABC Jesus Loves Me curriculum)
  • wooden alphabet blocks
  • playdough with ABC cookie cutters
  • phonics matching game from CurrClick.com
  • Big Thoughts for Little People by Kenneth Nathaniel Taylor
  • refrigerator magnets
  • foam letters for the bathtub
  • LeapFrog Fridge phonics set
  • Melissa & Doug See and Spell
  • LeapFrog Letter Factory DVD
  • Starfall.com (my older son loves to play, my younger son loves to watch him–and they both learn!  We love it so much we subscribed to
    “More Starfall” for the year!)
  • “Alphabetti” books from progressivephonics.com  (Ian learned his letters long before he expressed any interest in learning to read.  I wasn’t going to introduce any reading or writing activities for a few years, but he has been asking to learn to read, so we’ve just started using this program.  I’m sure I’ll blog out it more later if it looks like something we’ll be using for a while.)

Numbers/numerals (Note: I try to focus more on “number sense” rather than recognizing numerals, especially in the early years, so we do lots of counting activities):


Colors are everywhere! It’s pretty easy to incorporate them in conversations throughout the day or in activities like the color bears matching game that we’ve been using with our literature unit this month.

So many of these toys teach more than one concept (like the wooden clock puzzle, which could be used to teach shapes, colors, numbers, and how to tell time).  It’s hard not to learn when you keep things like this around!  And many of them can be used in different ways as children grow.  For example, when Ian first got his alphabet train puzzle, I always kept the pieces in order so all he had to do was take them out of the box one by one.  He was learning to recognize the letters, developing visual perception as he looked at how the pieces fit together, and practicing small motor skills as he put them together.  Now that he knows all his letters by sight, he can start with the pieces mixed up.  By singing the ABC song he figures out what piece he needs next and looks for the correct letter.  Later on we can work on reading the name of each animal on each piece.

It looks like we spend a fortune on educational toys, but really I usually just buy them for Christmas and birthday gifts (and pass the ideas on to relatives).  I also save my Swagbucks (which I earn just by using their search engine/toolbar) for Amazon gift cards to buy little extras (see sidebar under “Get Free Books!”).  And I’m fortunate enough to come from a family of teachers.  I have things left from my own teaching days, plus Grandma’s retirement last spring came at the perfect time for my kids. I’ve collected a lot with Ian, knowing that we’ll be using them all over the next few years as the other children grow into them.  I don’t have to plan out lessons for teaching these concepts–they just happen on their own when someone grabs an activity.  This morning Ian saw his puzzle and decided to put it together on his own.  Elijah enjoyed looking at all the letters as he did so, and ended up singing the ABC song all day after hearing Ian.  I love that learning is just a part of life!


Posted on August 24, 2011, in Preschool. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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