When Aidan began recognizing and deciphering the letters of the alphabet, I realized that my job as a parent was really twice as big as I thought. It's not a twenty-six letter job, but a fifty-two letter job! He loves playing with letter tiles, but they only have upper case letters on them. I believe in teaching him the proper format when it comes to words and writing, because we certainly do not write using all upper case letters! Here is where a permanent marker came in handy. I simply flipped the tiles over and wrote the corresponding lower case letter on the back of each one. I found this to be very helpful with certain letters that he knew one version of, but not the other. For example, Aidan knows the lower case letter "i" very well when he sees it, because it is in his name. However, he doesn't know the upper case version very well yet.
Me: "What word would you like to know how to spell?" It's important to make letters and writing interesting to a child by using words they are either interested in, like favorite toys or characters, or have possession of, like their name. It's not just appealing to their likes, it makes it more memorable for them, increasing the chance they will actually retain it, by attaching it to something they love.
Aidan: "Karate chop." (Something he likes to pretend with his dad.)
I write the words out on a piece of paper and instruct Aidan to copy the words by finding the corresponding letter tiles. We talk about some of the letters he does know, and some of the ones he does not.
When he's finished, I help him read the words he made and add up the numbers on each of the tiles, a little number recognition too! We were able to discuss less and more as well. The word karate has more letters, but is worth less points than chop in the game of Scrabble. Matching letters and reading the word is great repetition. Aidan "reads" his words to his dad, then its on to finding another word!
If you want more letters, or don't want to sacrifice your game pieces, you can find blank wooden tiles at craft stores to purchase. Don't be afraid to use different surfaces too, the board is not required, remember, its modified play!
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