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Growing Up

Awesome Alphabet Books

Awesome Alphabet Books - must have Picture books for little learners

We have some young alphabet loving learners in our house!  It started early for my oldest girl and I think she passed it down to her sister and her brother.  G was able to sing the alphabet (with some little stumbles) at 18 months.  And just a couple months later, she had the whole thing.  Then she started working on learning the letter sounds.  By the time she was 4 she had just started reading (through a combination of phonics and sight words) without me “teaching her to read.”

To a lesser extent, W (5 years-old) is interested in the alphabet.  She has known all the letters for a long time and is proficient at writing them, too.  But she is less interested in finding out what sounds they make.  Teaching her to read has been an extended process which requires much patience.

And on her heels is AG (2 years-old).  In love with all things letters and books, he is well on his way to becoming a reader.  His most requested picture books are alphabet related.  And he spends much of his time identifying letters.  And he loves to match the “big” letters to the little letters.

I share this as an awed observer because kids (in general) amaze me.  They are seriously little sponges that make learning look completely natural and fun!  The way learning should look!  I did very little to help my kids fall in love with the alphabet.

But as I sit back and wonder at my kids and their learning to read without me, I try to evaluate.  I think, “What made this possible?”  And I come up with two specific things over and over:  Continue Reading

Growing Up

The Best Alphabet Book for Tots

the best alphabet book for babies and toddlers

A little while back I got a reader question about teaching little ones to love the alphabet.  I have often shared our girls’ love of the alphabet and this reader wanted to know how I got them to love it.  And I really did some soul searching and thinking about it and came up with the number one resource for sharing the alphabet with our girls.  It is a book.  And it is a book we started reading to G (our oldest) before she was a year old.  And W started hearing it from the time she was cognizant of other people’s voices (probably in the womb).  G now knows most of it by heart and W is well on her way to remembering most of it, too.  This ONE alphabet book is the one I would recommend to parents to introduce and get their kids excited about the alphabet from an early age.

What is it? Continue Reading

Growing Up

DIY Glitter Alphabet

Our girls have (finally) been sharing a bedroom for a number of months now.  It took for.ever. to get them in the same room, but now they are happy as clams in there.  And since it took so long to get it done, I kind of took my time in fully decorating the room.  Right now both of them are interested in the alphabet and I knew I wanted something in their room with the alphabet on it.  I set aside an old magnetic board for their room (I got it way back in college!) and went to the dollar store and purchased a set of alphabet magnets.  It took months to get around to the project, but I ended up getting inspired by a haphazard placement of craft items in a bin one morning.  It just so happened that the perfect shade of glitter was sitting next to the alphabet magnets and -bam!- inspiration!  I quickly, like 30 minutes quick, threw together some glitter alphabet magnets for their room!  And I really love the result! Continue Reading

Growing Up

Alphabet Sequencing Activity

Simple Alphabet Sequencing Activity for preschoolers

Our oldest girl is alphabet obsessed!  And she has been for a long time.  She recognizes all the letters of the alphabet and is working on knowing all their sounds.  So I created an activity for her to work on sequencing, specifically “before” and “after.”  This was a challenge for her at first, but we kept going and she was so proud when she was finished with the entire alphabet.

Since it is the Halloween/Fall season, I thought it would be fun to put our alphabet letters into a cauldron I found at Target.  But this activity could be adapted to any seasonal study or be completely separate from a theme.  Continue Reading

Growing Up

Alphabet Exploration: Bb

This week was interesting in the alphabet department.  G was so on A is for…Abby, angel, apple, etc.  That apparently Bb is for…Abby, angel, apple, etc.  Oh, and Bb is for Elmo and Zoe, too.  After the first day of this week, I could not get her to make the connection between B and the words of the day.  We will just keep trying, but I have some new ideas for future weeks.

Here is what we did for this week:

Monday: Bb is for bear.  Boy do we have a bountiful collection of bears around here.  G has one for every two months she has been alive, at least.  We know because as part of today’s exploration we did a bear hunt.  We spent a lot of time with G’s bears and read Brown Bear, Brown Bear as well as Polar Bear, Polar Bear and Are you My Mommy? (featuring a polar bear looking for his mommy).

Tuesday: Bb is for butterfly.  We have a small butterfly toy that G loves, so this was next to her alphabet exploration flannel board in the morning and we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar during the day.  I planned on doing a craft, but life intervened.

Wednesday: Bb is for baby.  We used one of G’s baby dolls as well as her own little sister as our object of the day.  We talked a lot of babies and said B is for baby many times.  She just kept saying B is for Elmo and Zoe.  What shall we do?

Thursday: Bb is for brownie.  To be honest, I was a little late on getting around to our alphabet exploration today, so we threw in a kitchen activity late in the day, making Brownies in a Snowstorm.

Friday: Bb is for basketball.  G has a toy basketball and we are major basketball fans (go Mavs!) around here, so this was a no brainer.  G was born the day before the Mavs won the championship in 2011 and we told her while she was still in my tummy that she could not come on a game day – she complied then and, as a result, is a Mavs fan today.  When basketball games are on, she says, “Go Mavs!” right along with us.  We talked about bouncing a ball and passing a ball (throwing) with D and watched the Mavs game the next day.

New idea for teaching the letters to G: Manipulating the letters.  While I was making breakfast, I gave G the felt letters to play with and talk about.  She enjoyed looking at them and  moving them around her high chair tray.   While she played with them, I told her which one was big B and which one was little b.

Growing Up

Bear Hunting in the Wild

As part of our ongoing Alphabet Exploration of the letter B, our word for the day was bear.  We have an abundance of bears around here, so we decided to go on a bear hunt before bed.  I find the best time of day for bear hunting to be before bed.  So, while D got G cleaned up after dinner, I went upstairs and hid the bears in plain sight.  Then I gathered together a bunch of books about bears.

When G came up with D, I told her we were going to go bear hunting.  She had no idea what it was, but she was game.

I told her that I would give her clues to where she could find each bear and then D would help her find the bears.  After each clue was given, she ran off with D and found the bear almost immediately.  She did not need much help from him and she came back beaming each time.

When she came back we had a little celebration and said: “B is for bear.”  Then we placed our trophies in a row so we could count them. Off she went again and again to find the next bear based on the new clue.

When she had hunted the last bear, she came back and we counted the bears one last time and celebrated the successful day on the range!

Then we read every bear book we could find (including Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Polar Bear, Polar Bear).  We also played with one of her toys (a bear carousel).

In addition to an exploration of the alphabet, what did all this fun teach our little one?

  1. Counting skills – we counted each time a bear was caught.
  2. Listening to instructions – she quickly found out that she would not be able to get another bear until she listened to the clues.
  3. Prepositions – the clues included descriptive phrases like “on top of, “by,” “next to,” and “beside”
  4. the geography of our house – everything from Dad’s side of the bed to mom’s office were included.
  5. Abstract thinking – one of the clues was, “The bear is next to where W sleeps.”  This required her to locate in her mind where her sister sleeps and then go find it.


This was so successful!  G mentioned hunting each time she saw her bears for the rest of the week and fancies herself a hunter!  Such fun! We are going to do it in future weeks for ducks and piggies.  It is time the populations of those were thinned out!