This post is part of my 6×6 series on encouraging literacy in children from birth to five.
Letter knowledge is a precursor to reading, and an important skill to develop in children in order for them to be successful in reading. Letter knowledge means children can identify letters and are aware of their differences. They understand that even the same letter can look different (upper and lowercase) and that all letters are made up of shapes. They know that each letter has it’s own name and makes certain sounds.
Young children need to focus on idetifying letters, recognizing their shapes. Older ones can focus on identifying them by name and sound. There are many ways to work on these skills with your little ones on a daily basis, while at home or out and about. Find letters in pictures, on signs, on menus in restaurants. Have your children look for a certain letter on packages and walls while out shopping. Have them name the letters on a label or TV commercial. Your older ones can help you think of words and names that begin with that letter or make the sound of that letter. Have a “letter of the day”. Discuss your letter in the morning. Practice it’s sound and draw it out in shaving cream or shape it with Playdoh. Then, throughout the day look for that letter in books, on TV, in stores, or on a walk. Keep an ear out for it and clap, whistle or sing whenever you hear it. Start with letters that your children can get excited about, like the letters of their name or favorite subject or object (cars or princesses).
Practice alliteration with them by making up silly sentences or sayings: Ben bought bacon from Bobbies Banana Box. Point out shapes in the house or when you are out and about that could represent letters or look similar to them. Do letter crafts like making rubbings of letters with sandpaper and typing paper, or collages cut from magazines, cardboard, or anything else you can find. Practice writing letters in paint, whipped cream, or make them in clay or with objects from dad’s shop (with permission of course). Do all that you can on a daily basis to find and discuss letters in everyday life.
Information for this post and other 6×6 posts is adapted from the 6×6 READY TO READ cards provided by the State Library of Kansas through a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.