Toddler Learning ABC the Fun Way!

Alphabet on chalkboardIf you’re interested to introduce your toddler to the alphabet, I’m going to share with you the various ways I introduced my son to the alphabet after he turned one.

Through constant exposure to the alphabet in different formats since young, he was able to recognize all the letters and know their exact order shortly after turning 2. He was also able to pronounce most of the letter names but not W and Z then.

A toddler learning ABC is likely to be a long process that takes place over many months through informal play and instruction.

But before I share with you the ways I taught my son his ABCs, I’ll like to share something else with you. A number of experts have mentioned that it’s more important for young children to learn letter sounds than the letter names, because the ability to hear and identify letter sounds would go towards helping the children to sound out words and aid in their reading ability in future.

Every Child is Unique

Another point is that every child learns at different rate and each child would be interested in different things at various phases of their young life. There’s no need to be concerned should your toddler not be interested in the alphabet now.

I’ve read of young kids being very smart in their own chosen interests and yet they’re simply not keen on learning the 26 letter names.

Your child might be into something else, nurture that. It’s more important for her to develop her cognitive skills which include the ability to observe, discover, understand things and problem-solving. Learning her ABCs can come later.

Observe Your Child’s Interest

Happy little girlBut if she does express an interest in learning her ABCs, go for it! Encourage it and find fun little ways for her to learn. If she’s not interested, another time then. Try a few months later.

That’s what I did with my son.

I started introducing him to the alphabet after he turned one, soon after he took a fancy to numbers at around 16 months old and the alphabet took a back seat. For 7 months, he was highly keen on learning about numbers, so I nurtured his interest. His interest in the letters was later revived when he was about 23 months old.

Once Kaden’s interest in the alphabet was rekindled, it took off very quickly. Within a month, he knew all his letters and another 3 months later, he was able to pronounce most of the letter names.

He’s been in in love with the alphabet ever since! Now that he’s 2 years and 9 months old, he still enjoys playing with his magnetic, wooden and foam letters.

Below are 5 fun ways that I’ve used to expose my son to the alphabet.

1. Let’s Sing the ABC Song

I can’t remember exactly when I shifted from singing lullabies to the ABC song. Probably when he’s around one.

This is the one song I knew by heart, and there’s only a handful of children songs that I know how to sing. I sang it to him while I was changing and cleaning him. I sang it so many, many times I’ve lost count. Likely to be in the hundreds.

Last month, he began to sing the ABC song on his own, in its entirety. That’s his first song. This song has probably seeped into his subconscious mind upon hearing it for umpteen times. Funny how he would sing louder and louder with each passing letter till he maxed out his volume. ;)

2. The Leapfrog Fridge Phonics

Leapfrog Fridge Phonics to teach kids letter names, letter sounds and the ABC song.This fun phonics toy was a gift from my friend when Kaden was about a year old.

He was too little to grasp the letter tiles back then, so I was the one “playing” this toy to show him how to do it. By 15 months, he learned to do it on his own, and was able to rotate the individual letter tile into its correct position before inserting it into the slot, activating a catchy tune that sounds out the  corresponding letter name and letter sound.

The Fridge Phonics also plays the ABC song, and Kaden would press on big orange musical note button at the top to activate the song, repeatedly.

This educational toy helped my little boy in recognizing his letter names, letter sounds, while developing his fine motor skills, and hand-eye coordination at the same time.

3. Words and Pictures Chart

Words and Pictures chartMy sister passed this chart down to us when Kaden was a baby. I didn’t put it up till many months later.  I put it up on our balcony glass door, to help shield parts of the sun rays that shine in and to sort of have the 26 letters on a constant display.

The chart was placed high enough to stay out of his reach. I moved it down to his eye level after he was 2.5 years old when he stopped pulling it off the glass door!

When it came down to his eye level, he would go to the chart, stare at it for awhile, name the letters, and move on to his other play things. Over time, he would go to the chart occasionally, point at the pictures and goes “A is for apple, B is for baby, C is for Car…” right till Z.

I think this chart helps him with associating each letter with its corresponding word and image.  Constant exposure is a good thing.

4. The Magnetic Drawing Board

My husband bought one for Kaden as a Christmas present when he’s nearly one-year-old. It was intended for him to scribble on.

When he became highly interested in learning his numbers, I used it to write out numbers on this board so he could learn to identify the numbers. From 1-10, then 1-20, later I had to write up to 100 before he was satisfied!

Plastic magnetic drawing boardWhen his interest in the letters came back, I used it to write out the full alphabet to demonstrate that we can write out letters and there’s an order to the alphabet. But kids… once you showed them something that caught their interest, you don’t just do it once. You’ll be asked to do it over and over again. That’s what Kaden did and I was stuck with doing it for weeks after.

He had worn out his first drawing board by scribbling and later learning to write on it. Now he’s into his second board. We bought him a smaller and cheaper board this time. That’s the one featured in the photo.

5.  Alphabet in Various Forms

When my family realized Kaden enjoys playing with the alphabet, we bought him more alphabet toys. Be it plastic magnetic letters, wooden magnetic letters, wooden letter blocks or foam letters, Kaden loves them all.

With the magnetic ones, he would patiently arrange them in alphabetic order, and pull them off the standing magnetic board and start all over. There was a period of time, the first thing he did when he woke up was to go to his magnetic board to play with his wooden magnetic letters.

With the wooden letter blocks, he’s more interested in lining them up in their alphabetic order than building blocks. With the foam ones, he would line them up in a row on the living room floor, quickly mess them all up, and rearrange them into order again.

ABC floor foam puzzleHe has other toys such as balls, wooden animals, music keyboard and more in his toy box, but he is more fascinated by letters and looking through his children books at this stage. That’s play and fun to him.

A week ago, I displayed out the large alphabet foam puzzle which we’ve kept away from his sight. He was so excited and laughed with glee when he saw the puzzle pieces being fixed together, Now he’s having much joy and fun playing with them by pulling the uppercase and lowercase letters off the puzzle pieces and putting them back.

Watch out for your toddler’s interest level. If she’s keen, expose her to the alphabet through various ways. Let her play and let her learn at her own pace. If she finds it fun, she’ll want to play with it more and she’ll master her ABCs soon enough.

If you have any thoughts about what I’ve just shared or you want to share your tips in teaching your child the alphabet, please leave your comment below!

8 comments for “Toddler Learning ABC the Fun Way!

  1. James W D
    November 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    I really like how you are going about things here. I agree that you need to follow your child’s interest and build off of that! Oh and those fridge magnets, do I remember them! I think my whole extended family passed around one set of those!

    • admin
      November 6, 2013 at 7:11 am

      Thanks James for your feedback! Yes my son adores his alphabet fridge magnets! He has 6 older cousins but he’s the only one that plays so much with the fridge magnets. :)

  2. Marek
    November 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Great read. Nothing better than a child taking interest in things.

    • admin
      November 6, 2013 at 7:13 am

      Thanks Marek for your comment, and I’m happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed reading this post!

  3. Ryan Ibara
    November 5, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Although I am a bit young to think about teaching young ones the alphabet, my mother has just recently started teaching and loves tutoring young kids. I will definitely share this site with her, there’s tons of great info.

    • admin
      November 6, 2013 at 7:19 am

      Thanks Ryan for your kind words! I’d appreciate you sharing this site with your mother. I hope she’ll find some useful ideas here that she can use in teaching young kids! Young children are precious and they are our hope for the future, so your mother is doing a noble task of teaching and tutoring them.

  4. Teresa
    November 7, 2013 at 6:40 am

    WOW! This is such an informative blog post. My child is on the way in April so I have been reading all I can about babies and newborns. I thought it was interesting to learn about teaching them the sounds of the letter first. That makes so much sense!

    • Fion
      November 7, 2013 at 7:08 am

      Congratulations Teresa! I’m sure you must be eagerly anticipating the arrival of your new baby. I was not taught letter sounds when I was a child. So I learned to read by recognizing whole words. But now that I understand that learning letter sounds contributes to decoding unfamiliar words and helping a child’s future reading ability, I’m teaching my son to read through the synthetic phonics method which makes more sense to me too!

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