Friday, November 22, 2013

Homeschooling Brilliance: Teaching the Alphabet

Sometimes I have moments of sheer genius.
Actually, I should probably give credit to a friend from church, who forwarded me an email about how to encourage a reluctant learner.  The email was meant for me in dealing with Nathan, but one idea, playing games, actually got applied to Jacob.
Nathan and Jacob have different learning styles.  Nathan is pretty factual, but Jacob enjoys the creative side.  Nathan seemed to pick up on the alphabet pretty easy, whereas Jacob was getting confused with all the different letters I was presenting him.  (We're on week 6 of school, and the letter "K" if that gives you an idea of how quickly this curriculum introduces them.)  Then again, I had a lot more time to focus on making sure Nathan got to go over it several times and several ways each day.
Our curriculum, Answers for Preschoolers, comes with flashcards templates.  I already had them made from going through it with Nathan.  When we had about 5 letters, I played a type of memory game, where I turned them all face down and asked Jacob to find random letters.  He loved it.  Then I realized I could copy off the back of the templates and play memory for real.  This was okay to do when you had 5 letters.  However, full-size flashcards when you have 10 pairs takes up a bit of table space.  So we kind of quit playing that game, and started playing Go Fish with the flashcards.

This is supposed to be the front and back of a single flashcard, but I copied them separately onto the card stock, so we have "pairs" for each letter.

 Then I got the genius idea to make memory cards.  Actually, it was quite simple - even for me! - to set it up on Excel.  I expanded the cell height and width, formatted it to print the grid lines, and then typed out a capital and lowercase letter of each.  Print it out on card stock, cut them out on the lines, and - voila!

There is a slight problem, as d, b, p, and q all look very similar if you don't know which side is up or down. I had to put lines under the letters to distinguish.  Also a problem I didn't think about was that in this font, some letters (like a and g) aren't manuscript style, and he gets confused. 

Jacob loves playing games, and he went from obvious guessing on the flashcards, to confidently calling out the names of letters as he turns them over or draws them.  (I make him tell me the letters in his hand during Go Fish. If Nathan plays with us, I make him tell me the sounds the letters make.)  Using the games is great motivator to get him to the table, or to get him to finish his workbook quickly.  And I enjoy him being excited about doing school and learning!

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