I am always looking for fun ways to teach Jelly Bean during everyday tasks. Some teaching moments are as simple as letting her smell the spices I am using to flavor dinner, and other situations turn into elaborate games and songs. The alphabet soup game is somewhere in between.
Ellie has the foam letters that stick on the side of the tub. She started out playing with them by just sticking them in her mouth, and I would entertain myself by spelling out words on the side of the tub. To further my amusement, I began sticking letters onto my daughter (mother of the year, right). When this started, I made up the alphabet soup song (I often make up silly songs about what we are doing). “Alphabet soup, alphabet soup, alphabet soup, it sticks on yooouuuuu. Sticky letters stick on you. Alphabet soup is fun to dooooo.”
After reading about Montessori sandpaper letters, I had the idea to start introducing Jelly Bean to the phonetic sounds of each letter. Montessori suggests teaching children the sound a letter makes instead of the name of the letter to help get a jump on reading. Ellie is too young to match items to letters, such as in this article where I first learned of sandpaper letters, but getting her to repeat a sound feels like a huge success!
Since baby girl is only 14 months old, I only introduce a few constants that I think she should be able to pronounce and work on those for a few weeks. I started with M, D, B, C, and G. I picked these letters because her favorite words are Momma, Dada, ball, and Gaga. I would slap the foam letter on the side of the tub, trace the letter with my finger, and repeatedly make the phonetic sound of the letter.
Ellie figured out how to stick the letters on the walls of the tub, so when she successfully put a letter up, I would say, “You did it!” Then I would trace the letter with my finger and make the phonetic sound. She started repeating the sounds, which I encouraged. Because she is so young, I get really excited when she repeats the sound. I also encourage her to feel the letter. The foam letters have a criss-cross pattern on the front which mimics the rough texture of the Montessori sandpaper letters.
After about two weeks, she plucked up a C and started making the appropriate sound. I was stunned and immediately started celebrating. She was so pleased with herself that she would only make the C sound for the next 20 minutes. I’m pretty sure it was a coincidence, but I am going to pretend that she actually recognized the C (because she is so darn smart)!
I am convinced if I continue repeating the phonetic sounds, Ellie will learn the various sounds and be able to read with ease. For now, the alphabet soup game is a fun way to learn during bath time.