Learning to Read – Alphabet books and printables

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Most children know how to sing the alphabet song by the time they are 3 years old. However, being able to say the names of the alphabets is not the same as recognizing the shape of the letters. In order to learn to read, the child must be able to rapidly identify the printed forms of the letters out of its regular sequence and learn the sound that is attached to each alphabet.

You can help your child learn these alphabets by regularly pointing out and identifying letters in environmental print, such as, signboards, road signs, product packaging, posters, etc. Also, reading them alphabet books will encourage interest in learning the alphabets, here are some of the recommended titles;

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1. A, My Name is Alice

2. Alphabatics

3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

4. Eating the Alphabet : Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z

5. Tomorrow’s Alphabet 

6. An A to Z Walk in the Park

7. Alphabet City

Children who can recognize letters with accuracy and speed have an easier time learning the sounds associated with letters, as they are better able to focus on learning the sound-spelling relationships.

So do we teach the uppercase or the lowercase letters first? I usually go with the uppercase or the capital letters, even though uppercase letters only account for 5% of all letters in the written word. This is easier for the child to distinguish between the shapes of each letter, since there will be less confusion between the similar looking letters like b-p, q-b, b-d, h-u, i-l.

Even if most children can say all the letters by age 4, most need up to two years to learn the corresponding shapes (Adam, 1990).

Once the child can recognize all the capital letters, I would put an alphabet chart with both capital and lower case letters and talk about them with the child. Let the child see the alphabets, compare them, play games of matching up lower case with their capital letters.


Here are some printables that you can use with your child;

Alphabet Match Up Mittens Printable Match Up Alphabets

Clothespeg ABC game

Alpharecog1(from 1plus1plus1equals1.com)

With the Clothes peg ABC game, your child can learn to identify the matching low case letter and attaching the wooden clothes peg on the card above the letter.

Some 3-4 year olds, might need help to distinguish between similar looking lower case letters. They seem to be able to differentiate them when they see it separately, but will struggle when some letters like ‘b’ and ‘d’ and seen together. I use memory methods like, “b has a big tummy, as it pokes in front of the long line”, and “d has a big back-side as it is behind the long line.” Further associating the letter ‘b’ with words like ‘ball’ and ‘d’ with ‘dinosaur’ also aids the child to remember the differences between the letters.



Adams, M.J. 1990. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.



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Learning to Read – Alphabet Activities

Learning the alphabet can be a fun experience for a toddler or a pre-schooler. Instead of just showing flash cards with the alphabets, and getting them to memorize the alphabet, here are some activities that will reinforce the learning of letter sounds, while making the learning of the alphabets interactive and engaging.

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1. Alphabet Corner

Set up a corner in your child’s room with alphabet puzzles, alphabet stamps, magnetic alphabet letters for word building, letters to trace, a whilteboard or a mini chalkboard. The more he/she gets to interact with the alphabets, the more your child will be familiar with the letters and shapes.

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2. Alphabet Walk

Take your child for a walk around the neighborhood and help the to look for, identify and learn letters that are found in environmental print.

3. Let’s go on a hunt

Write capital letters and the lowercase letters of each letter on large note cards. Then have the child find the letter in magazines and newspapers. Suggest that they cut them out, and draw pictures of items with names begin with the letter that are shown on the card.

4. Word Round Up

Wrote a series of simple words on the whiteboard, like sit, sun, sad, top, sick, mop, cat. Read the words aloud for the child, emphasizing on the sound of ‘S’, for those words beginning with the letter ‘S’. Then get the child to circle the words beginning with the same letter. Overtime, your child learns to recognize the difference in the sounds of the various alphabets.

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5. Word Pairs

Write a word pair on the board, such as sat and mat. Read the words aloud, emphasizing the sound of the letters in front of the word. And ask the child to identify the letter that is different in each word.

6. Letter Path

Create a construction paper “stone” path around the room with one letter written on each stone. Have the child walk the alphabet, while saying aloud each letter name.

7. Alphabet Album

Materials : A old photo album, pictures (out of magazines or old books, or printed from the internet) for each letter of the alphabet, large upper case and lower case alphabet letters , wipe off markers and a few old socks

Take the photo album and make one page per alphabet letter. Put the upper and lowercase letters and one or two pictures onto the page. Do this for each letter.

After the book is done, let your child use a wipe off marker to practice tracing the letter and say the letter at the same time.


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Do Art with your Child – Tips and Giveaways!

The last time I was exposed to any form of art training was in Secondary School. With a teacher teaching art to a class of 30+ other classmates, there was hardly any art techniques that I could learn effectively. All I recalled from my past art learning was that I detested doing Still Art.

So when K turned 2 years old, I was determined to expose him to as many art experiences during home-learning.

Open-ended art were the first experiences in art that got him to try. There were no set ways to create something, these art experiences were just focused on new art mediums that supported his self-expression. Having an empty canvas and tools to create anything he wanted, was rather engaging for a child below 4 years old.

Art Home Learning1

Nonetheless, open-ended art experiences can get rather haphazard and it often ends up to be just an exploration of art materials for the child.

It is good to provide opportunities to explore art materials and tools, but when a child approaches 3-5 years old, parents need to start thinking about how they can seamlessly expand ideas to foster the child’s mental development through open-ended art experiences.

Here are some methods I have used to maximize learning during open-ended art experiences;

1. Ask open-ended questions and prompts, “Tell me about what  you have drawn?”

2. Make objective observations about the process to the picture, “I like how you have used yellow for the tree and how it blends into the green color,” instead of “I like your picture.”

3. Encourage the integration of language and writing, by encouraging a dictation of the child’s story behind the art creation. Often children will have their own stories and will want to expand on their art piece as ideas start to develop further.

4. Write a verbatim of the child’s explanation of his creation, either behind the art piece or a separate piece of paper. Eventually the child will be encouraged to model this behavior and want to start writing their own stories and creations.

Art Home Learning2

Here’s how I managed to incorporate language into an Open-ended Art experience with K when he was 5 years old.

There are many advantages to open-ended art experiences, as it can give the child opportunities to expand basic concepts, use problem solving skills and language expression. It also fosters mental development, as he expresses his feelings, thoughts and ideas that he wants to communicate. The child will strengthen his ability to observe, imagine and create with open-ended art experiences.

  How about Structured art experiences?

Some art educators frown upon structured art lessons for children below 7, as they feel that structured art stifles a child creativity. But I think that children can be exposed to both structured art and open-ended art experiences from 4 years old onwards.

Structured art is more product oriented, as it is useful to cement the ideas learnt from the process, may even come in the form of doing craft that is related to a theme that the child is learning. Or a set process for the child to learn a particular art technique.

I did not have any proper form of art training before doing structured art with K, but learning from books like Maryann F. Kohl, Mona Brookes, doing read-alouds with K using the Katie series of books were pivotal to encourage art appreciation and instrumental to introduce Open-ended and Structure-Art experiences during Home-learning sessions.

Here’s an example of a Structured Art Home-Learning experience I had with my son, that incorporated an open-ended outcome.

Children s Art Books 6

Effective Art Home-Learning experiences will give children the opportunity to connect to other curriculum areas, while focusing on creative thinking and problem solving. Modelling technique are necessary to guide and empower the child through the creative process, as most children might be overwhelmed by a new concept or new art materials and not know where or how to begin.

Remember to focus on the process and not the final product!

Children s Art Books 7 Have you tried art experiences at home with your child? And what are your favorite mediums (craft, paint, color pencils, pastels etc)?


Giveaways for Catch-Fortywinks readers! 

To help readers of this blog guide your children along on their Art Home-Learning experiences, I will be giving away 4 sets of art-learning books.

All you need to do is to answer the above question, leave your children/s age in the comment, and I will be doing a random pick for 4 winners. Don’t forget to leave your email address when filling up the details of the comment form, so that I can drop you an email if you have won any of these books.

Giveaway closes 31st July 2014.

Art Books1 Art Books2 Art Books3 Art books4

For other Home-Learning tips and ideas, view article links from this page

The Giveaway Winners are;

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