By Kathyana Gomez.
Like so many of you, I find myself with the challenge of homeschooling my 3-year-old daughter. And I don’t mean virtual learning with an awesome teacher planning everything for her, but rather my daughter went from 10 hours a day at a wonderful Montessori school to full time at home with me.
And here came the challenge. How do I keep her learning going? After some research, my first learning objective was the letters and their associated sounds. My daughter had already learned some of the most used letters at school, like R, S, and E. Only 23 to go!
What Did I Do?
We went all-in with alphabet teaching. I bought erasable letter books, magnetic letters, and painted a wall with white dry erase paint (definitely use a foam roller!). For the wall decorations, I used an alphabet border. It looked great! But it was missing something. PICTURES!
My stepmother, a retired Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher, pointed it out the moment she saw our wallboard on FaceTime.
She explained that children learn by association and are also extremely visual.
She strongly recommended that the alphabet needed to have images next to each letter.
This gave me the idea of creating a personalized alphabet.
The Alphabet Photoshoot!
We created a personalized alphabet with my daughter as the hero! How’s that for personalized learning?
What did we do?
- Found easy to photograph items for each letter.
- Talked about the items and the letter for each one.
- She played/modeled with each item (this part was a blast!).
- I took pictures with my phone’s standard editing tool.
- I added the respective letter to the best 26 pictures using the standard editing tool on my phone.
- Got all the pictures printed at the store.
You may think, this woman has a lot of free time in her hands! But truly, the entire photoshoot took a little over an hour. An hour of fully engaged activity by my daughter (let’s face it, I thought we were going to get to letter D and I would get an “I am tired”). But no, she loved it and wanted to keep going!
- Be patient! She loved some of the items, which meant it took a little longer (yes, the N for nail polish took about 10 minutes!).
- Be creative!
- Let your child shine!
How do we use it?
- Letter writing: We focus on about 6 letters per week. I let her choose them herself and do activities for those letters that week. There is much research about what letters to teach first, but in my experience with my daughter, the key to learning is interest… so I let her choose the letters. Activities include:
- writing the letters while looking at the picture,
- repeating the name and sound every time she writes it, and
- making up songs related to the letter photo (🎵H is for hat, Hat starts with H, Anna has a hat, Oh I love hats!🎵).
- Letter speed game with Grandma: Grandmas love pictures of their grandchildren, so I printed a copy of the letters for my mother (just because gift, check!). Using our alphabet, we do a FaceTime speed game. I say a letter and both Grandma and my daughter compete to see who can find the letter faster. My girl loves it (and Grandma too)!
- Child as the teacher game: Children love to do things on their own and they love teaching what they know. So we do sessions where she is the teacher and shows me the picture, then asks me what letter it is to “test” me on my knowledge.
- The Scavenger Hunt game
The Alphabet Hero!
With Halloween around the corner, I set out to make my girl’s own costume. What better than an Alphabet Hero costume? The hero with the superpower to write.
She LOVES it! She got to make her costume and gets to wear her letters. I just ordered an extra set of her alphabet photos (at $0.35 per picture, this was a $9 costume), found some old fabric to make a cape, and used lots of tape!
This was a simple and inexpensive activity that has really paid off. We’ve had the personalized alphabet for about 3 weeks now, and I am proud to share that my daughter can write, say the name, and recognize 23 out of 26 letters. She can also write her full name! Ok, sometimes she still eats that ‘u’ in her middle name, Luna… But we use it, and it works!
When are you doing your very own Alphabet Photoshoot with your child?
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