Thursday, January 30, 2014

Learning a Letter a Day

Between my twin boys' need to learn their letters and not wanting to hear one more episode of Calliou's whiny voice I got an idea to incorporate a little learning while having fun. I found some intriguing and active letter learning exercises in Family Fun magazine last winter which gave me the idea to have the boys learn a letter a day, similar to what they were doing in pre-school. Hopefully this reinforcement would help them cement their knowledge of recognizing, writing, and learning the sounds of letters. After all, learning and parenting is all about consistency and repetition, right?

The fun part of these days would be the outings, crafts, games, and food associated with the letter of the day. The learning part was the boys' identification of uppercase and lower case letters, practicing sounds, and tracing/writing the letters in mini lessons. And when I say mini lesson, I mean 10-15 minutes tops and the use of lined handwriting paper I found at Dollar Tree. As any mom of a toddler knows, three and four year old attention spans are short.

The amount of time, energy, and money you put in is up to you. Some "letter days" we went on outings to the Air Zoo, downtown, or ice cream shop. Other days we simply played hide and seek and ate hot dogs. Also, we did not do this consecutively. My goal was two" letter days " per week. While I did well sticking to my goal, I do have to confess that we did not make it through the entire alphabet. Life gets busy. A holiday, trip out of town, and warm weather distracted me from this project. However, we did have a lot of fun doing this and I am proud to say the letters we did learn, the boys know very well! I also plan to do this with my girls when they are ready to learn their letters.

On letter "A day",  I started with showing the boys the uppercase and lowercase A. We practiced the sound and made a game out of who could come up with the most words that began with A. Then I had them each trace the letter and write a line of uppercase and lowercase As. Once this part was finished I told them about our trip to the Air Zoo to see lots of airplanes and even an astronaut. I'm not sure who was more excited for this trip, my husband or the boys?! We were fortunate to have an amazing air zoo not too far away.  This place is full of real airplanes, a few rides (airplanes and hot air balloons that go in a circle), simulators of trips to space, and a large space exhibit where kids can sit in a pretend spaceship, watch real space shuttles take off on the screen, and take a 3-D space shuttle ride. 

This was their favorite ride

You can't sit in this one, but it's fun to look at.
Watching a space shuttle blast off

"inside the space station"
Throughout the day I had the boys find the letter A on various signs and tell me what sound it makes. For snacks, I packed apples and animal crackers. 

Since this adventure took a good part of the day we finished by reading our books on outer space and talking about astronauts. Again, you can do as much or as little as you want, incorporating activities into learning a letter a day. In the end, it was a fun way to sneak in a little learning.

For "B day" we started off the same way.  Bacon and bananas were included in breakfast and then we did our lesson on uppercase and lower case B. The boys then took a bubble bath, we blew up balloons and used them as targets for our Nerf guns. A visit from cousin B, making brownies (out of a box-lol!) and indoor bowling completed our "B" day.

Again, "C day" began the same as the other days and included coloring, crafts with letter C (making a cat out of construction paper, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, feathers, glue, and glitter). We played cars, ate carrots, celery (ants on a log), cheese and crackers, and cantaloupe.We also watched Cat in the Hat and had caramel corn for a snack.

Once we learned three letters, I played an easy letter review game with the boys. I got this idea from Family Fun magazine. On a piece of paper I wrote the letters we learned (upper and lowercase), and threw in three or four other letters. I spread the pieces of paper out on the living room floor and whose ever turn it was had to find and jump on the letter I called out. If they got it right, I tossed them a Hershey Kiss. They had a lot of fun with this and requested to play often. Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm sure the chocolate had nothing to do with their love of this game!!

Easy letter review game

This one gets extra credit for not only tracing the letter but dressing himself as well :)
Another great tool for learning and writing letters and numbers at home is the Letter School app from i-tunes. If you have an i-Pad or i-phone I highly recommend this $2.99 app. My kids love it.

You can also print out free letter handwriting sheets from The Measured Mom by clicking here. This blog is by a former teacher and has a lot of great learning activities you can do at home.

To see more of my party ideas, home decorating, favorite recipes, twin activities x 2, and all things
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