There's something about observing your child and watching for interest changes and ah-ha moments, well, it just makes this whole parent thing pretty darn good. A month or two ago, Ronan decided that he wanted to get books about letters from the library.
Me: "We're going to the library tomorrow. What would you like to study or learn about this week?"
Ronan: "Letters. I'd like to get books about letters."
Me: "Okay, sounds good."
Wait…until he leaves the room and jump up and down in anticipation. Now, it would be disingenuous to suggest that I haven't introduced letters to him before. (We started with sounds – Montessori-style). But, I have presented letters numerous times and he knew some, but for the most part they just haven't "stuck." He seemed interested in them, loved to trace them as a 3-year-old, but the lowercase sandpaper letters that I made him – they didn't really hold his interest. So, I waited. (Not something my natural Type-A personality likes to do). And, I thought about it.
I decided to go against my Montessori training and introduce both uppercase and lowercase ones at the same time. Alphabet books are in uppercase. So, rather than try to work against the system, maybe he would retain them if he knew the uppercase first. And, after a few weeks of reading these books – and discussing – and a few more repeat episodes of The Letter Factory (egads – it is TV cartoon, but a really, really useful one), and he knows almost all of them.
And what does a frugal, fun-loving mama-teacher do when we need to go to the next level? Cobble together an idea from a variety of sources (friends, family and traditional education) and a homemade alphabet book is born.
A re-purposed binder, some printer paper, lots of stickers, and a collection of grocery store flyers – the perfect tools for a homemade book. We've started with Aa – a nice way to put that pesky alphabet song to good use. (In Montessori, we isolate the vowels in red and consonants in blue – whenever we write – at least for the first year. The rationale being that the vowels are much trickier to hear and notice when breaking down the letters in a word).
And, if you have no stickers or cutouts for your letter? What does your creative child do when you go to check on his younger brother?
You draw a dinosaur, of course.