“Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.” – Plato
In my own words — learning through play is the only way. Truly, I think it is very important to let children learn at their own speed and only with their own desire and games is the perfect way to lure them into such learning. I also think learning should be a very lively activity. After all, children are just not meant for sitting. 🙂
I introduced the letters to both boys from the earliest age — we have little letters from HABA for them just to play with in whichever way they choose, we discuss letters a little bit while reading books at night, we have a very large alphabet chart (see the DIY instructions here) in their play room. I just try to keep the letters there for them to see, to become familiar with and when they have interest learn about. At times I casually talk about the letters on the chart, or pick up some letter cubes and start looking at pictures, looking very engrossed and fascinated. Of course they want to see what all that interest is about. Target achieved! 🙂 One thing they both always really like are these little alphabet cards with animals I got a while back. These are the same cards we used to make our alphabet chart. I really like them, so I got 2 sets. And recently Ale and I came up with a little game using these cards that he enjoyed playing many times over.
A few months ago I came across these charming alphabet cards. I particularly liked them as they introduce both capital and small letters in a very associative and visual way. Ale already knows many Russian and English letters as we often talk about them a bit while reading our bed time stories. But the idea that same letter can have two different versions was rather confusing for him. And while in Montessori approach it is recommended to only introduce small letters at first, I found this to be impractical as all the books have both letters on their covers and naturally the subject of small and capital letters would always come into our discussions when we would start reading our bedtime stories.
So in these cards a small and a big version of the same letter is very nicely tied together through the same animal — the grown up one for the capital letter and a baby one for the small letter.
It seems like Ale’s world is so much about tracks these days — our kitchen is plastered with track stickers, floors are strewn with legos, we watch garbage track every Monday and go to bed with a tractor. So having this beautiful book as one of his favorite bedtime stories makes me particularly happy! He calls it the book about eagles — his favorite animal.
We don’t actually read the book. Instead my little eagle joins Mr. Bear as he digs for mussels under the rocks on the shore and then follows him into the woods to eat together some huckleberries (because that’s what the eagles do, right? ☺️) We ‘fly’ over the ancient forest and listen to the wolves as they howl to each other down below. We watch orcas play in the ocean and we share fish with mama whale. We listen to the rain and watch cougar emerge from the woods at sunset. And as the sun sets over the ocean and sky becomes studded with stars my little eagle lays down in his nest, I cover him with a blanket and we listen to some wolf howls and eagle calls on my iPhone as he is falling asleep. 💕💕💕 (scroll to the bottom to listen to the wolves howl!)