Today's toddlers have lots of fun ways to learn the alphabet, from stuffy old flash cards to flashy computer games and phone apps. Thanks to the Internet, there are also a host of websites with alphabet games and learning activities. A 3-year-old can quickly become adept at maneuvering electronic gadgets, and it soon may seem like your child knows more about operating the computer than you do! Once he becomes accustomed to navigating the technology, your child can learn the alphabet with your help and reinforce that knowledge independently.
Look for sites that have animation and sound effects. Games with flashing letters or interacting characters are effective for keeping your 3-year old's attention. Imagine how fun it would be to hear Cookie Monster teaching you the alphabet! Sesame Street has an excellent site with a "Find the Letter" game in which characters ask the child to find specific letters and give them guidance when they choose incorrectly. PBS Kids also has many alphabet games, including interactive "Concentration" in which children click on cards to find matching pairs.
Begin with letter identification. Use sites that have options of viewing letters in or out of order, uppercase and lowercase. Starfall and Learning Planet are online resources that focus on beginning reading skills. Children click on the letter of their choice, hear the name of the letter and see it displayed in large font. This will help your child remember the shape of the letter when starting to write the alphabet.
Progress to letter sounds. Even though sound recognition and production are classified as phonics, these skills will help your child associate the sound with the letter, which reinforces knowledge of the alphabet. Funschool has a game in which your child clicks on any letter and then sees pictures of objects that begin with the letter he picked. This will help your child associate the letter with its sound.
Have fun with your child while helping him learn the alphabet. A computer is a wonderful resource, but it cannot interact the way you can. Mimic Cookie Monster when he calls out letters on the Sesame Street site. When a site plays music during a game, make up a silly song about the alphabet. A 3-year-old doesn't care if you look foolish or can't sing. In fact, the sillier the better!
- Although 3-year-olds may learn how to use the computer and get to sites on their own, frequent supervision and monitoring is essential as children are often the target of online predators.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images