Has your toddler started to show signs that they’re ready to jump on board the literacy train?
Are they sick of playdates and building blocks and are instead demanding Shakespeare and a spot of Beethoven?
Ok, that MIGHT be taking it a little bit too far (but by all means, if that’s your kid, shine on)! Around the age of two however, many toddlers DO start to show an interest in numbers and letters. While they may not be about to sit down with a bunch of alphabet magnets and form the perfect ‘ABC’s’, there’s plenty of fun to be had teaching letter recognition.
Kid not that interested in learning their letters? Don’t panic! Children all develop at their own pace. Even if the letter ‘E’ is more likely to be used as a speed bump for their dump truck, they can still enjoy plenty of fun activities which might just start to pique their interest.
5 Fun Ways To Teach Toddlers the Alphabet
1. Warm up your lungs, it’s tune time
Toddlers LOVE to sing. Music, dancing and generally making noise are all high on their list of priorities. We all know the alphabet song, now it’s time to introduce them to it as well. While at first they’ll probably just recognise the tune, the more they hear it, the more familiar the sounds will become. You can even use the song as the basis for a whole bunch of other activities that help develop letter recognition skills. Incorporate movement using the song as the backing track and ask your toddler to point out something that starts with an ‘A’ or to ‘make the letters’ using their bodies.
2. Make it fun
The best way to get a toddler into an activity? Make it fun and engaging. Toddlers don’t want to be talked at, they want to be part of the action. Alphabet puzzles, magnetic letters, lift-the-flap and touch and feel books are all a great way to start immersion in letter recognition and teach toddlers the alphabet.
As your child starts to recognise their letters, try building on their skills by asking them to place each letter in sequence. And using chunky alphabets, like these from Kmart, to spell out simple words and show them how letters come together is another A-C-E idea!
3. Introduce the alphabet to everyday life
A great, simple strategy, is introducing the alphabet to everyday life. This is as simple as ensuring that when you pick up or put away something around the house, you mention what letter it starts with. ‘There’s your teddy, teddy starts with a ‘T.’ Clearly you won’t be doing this all day as you’d end up in the loony bin but even a few minutes in the kitchen or during playtime can help the letters to make sense in ‘real life.’
As your toddler gets older, make a game out of it. Give them a little basket or wagon and get them to toddle around the house and fill it up with things that make the ‘B’ sound – balls and blocks are good ones for this – or “C’ sound and so on.
4. Turn it tactile
Little people explore a whole lot of their world through touching. One nifty activity which is great for pairing touch with sight and sound is to fill a tray with coloured sprinkles and show your toddler how to trace the alphabet shape with their finger. As they trace, muscle memory is developed. Pair alphabet blocks with other activities, like matching a letter to an object or sequencing correctly. As they get the hang of it, they can make simple words or even spell out their name in sprinkles. Expect a few sprinkles to get eaten along the way! You can print your own set of ice cream cone alphabet cards over at Modern Preschool.
5. Create an alphabet ‘busy bag’
Not familiar with a busy bag? Busy bags are basically a zip lock bag that contains an activity. Simple. The drawcard? Everything you need for that activity is inside the bag. No scrambling around for bits and pieces to get started. Creating a couple of alphabet busy bags means you’ll have specific activities to hand that your child can really get into. We love this alphabet egg busy bag idea that’s easy to DIY. If you want to get really creative, find a matching toy that starts with the letter to tuck away inside.
Need some more activities to keep your toddler on their toes? Check out our guide to making awesome toddler-safe edible paint, the possibilities for this stuff is endless!