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Getting to grips with letters - how do you do it?

(10 Posts)
sheeplikessleep Thu 07-Jul-11 10:32:47

DS1 is 3.8 and loves books. I'd love for him to get familiar with letters, but I'm not sure how / where to start!

I've tried showing him different letters, saying what it starts with (e.g. 'ball starts with b' and then showing him the letter), but he struggles to remember the letter 5 minutes later.

This is in contrast to numbers, which he seems to just 'get' and is starting to work out that if you add 1 to 2, it makes 3, for example.

How can I help him? I struggle with the fact that some toys seem to do a pronounced as 'ae', b as 'beee' others as 'b'. He can point out letters of his name, but beyond that, both he and I are struggling! He isn't really a sit down and learn type of child (are any of them at nearly 4? grin), but does seem to have a bit of a thing about road signs, so we talk about different letters in those, but they're all capitals, which I think is even more confusing for them!

Any ideas or thoughts appreciated! Thanks

sheeplikessleep Thu 07-Jul-11 10:33:10

he starts school next September 2012

maverick Thu 07-Jul-11 15:57:11

Have a go with Debbie's free Teeny Reading Seeds:

Teeny Reading Seeds
Free resources for 3-4 yr.olds as they begin to make links between speech sounds and the 26 alphabet letters - both upper and lower case.

sheeplikessleep Thu 07-Jul-11 16:49:08

Thank you maverick, that's exactly what I was looking for, thank you

DeWe Thu 07-Jul-11 17:42:23

What got dd1 knowing her letters was typing on the computer. She got very interested in words and letters just before she was 2yo and would sit at the computer saying "How do you spell (eg) mummy?" So I would at first point to the letter and say "m" and she would type it. Within a short time I didn't need to point to the letters. Because the keyboard is uppercase and the screen spelt in lower case she learnt both at the same time. I wasn't trying to teach her, jsut something she wanted to play.
She was a sit down and learn child at 2yo though, and still is at 10yo.
Not sure how dd2 and ds learnt their letters though. Never did anything with them, but ds certainly knows them at 4yo and isn't a sit down and learn child. (unless it's to do with aeroplanes!)

sittinginthesun Fri 08-Jul-11 14:11:09


I'm no expert, but with both of my boys I just chatted away about and letters sounds with them as part of a normal conversation.

It is the sounds they have to pick up, and then eventually link them to the letter shapes. I know DCs' Reception Class spents time playing games of "guess the sound" - jingling keys etc.

Then, you can play endless games like eyespy, spot the letter when you are out, rhyming games. DS is in his final few weeks at nursery, and they have a Letter of the Week. We go around the supermarket spotting it. When you do bedtime reading etc, you can spot the letter then too.

Far more fun than sitting them down with the specific intention of learning letters.

pranma Fri 08-Jul-11 22:02:40

The Melissa and Doug see and spell set from Amazon is brilliant-wish I could do link for you.It is a set of wooden boards with pictures and words with letters like a fitting puzzle-simple words like hat,pig etc.Dgs has this and soon learned to form the words and recognise the letters as well as having great fun with it.

AliceAirhead Fri 08-Jul-11 22:22:21

Agree with sittinginthesun re playing games that focus on particular letters - doesn't have to be formal, paper-based stuff.

Children (boys especially) are naturally kinaesthetic learners so doing things that invlove movement really helps embed the link between the grapheme (the shape of the letter) and the phoneme (the sound that letter makes). This is the grapheme-phoneme correspondence you might hear teachers talking about. You could try encouraging your son to draw letters in sand, paint them in water or chalks out outside, forming the letters in play-doh...

I'd also recommend avoiding any toys that say the name of the letter rather than the sound it makes, e.g. the grapheme b makes a short. light 'buh' sound not 'bee'. Inconsistency with this really confuses children.

I certainly wouldn't worry if your son seems to 'get' a letter only to forget it later on. He's not 4 yet! Just keep reinforcing that grapheme-phoneme correspondence in a fun, positive, no-pressure way and it will sink in. Every time your son even hears those sounds a little connection in his brain gets stronger!

sheeplikessleep Sat 09-Jul-11 11:27:22

Thanks all for posting, really helpful for me, thank you. Some really good ideas.

De - I'll try him with the computer more (which he does love), I reckon there will be some online games which help too.

Sitting - I do try to incorporate into day to day and he loves eye-spy (although often gets it wrong, we praise him loads when he does get it right). spot the letter might be good, although I think he'll struggle with that at the moment. But I guess I can 'play' it for a while with him. Makes me think that he is really into cars, so maybe registration plate numbers and letters might be an angle.

Pranma - I'll look that puzzle up, thank you.

He is definitely a 'movement' child and loves anything physical, so those are good ideas to involve that side Alice, thank you. I think chalks on the patio might be good, I reckon he'll love that, thank you.

Thanks again, I feel inspired now!! Cheers

sittinginthesun Sat 09-Jul-11 15:57:45

One other suggestion - my DS (aged 4) has just spent a whole hour absorbed in the CBeebies Weekly magazine. Loves it, and it does have a lot of letter things, like alphablocks etc).

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