Alphabets for Everyone

What prompted this post? Dinner. I've finally mastered homemade chicken soup, and the secret is alphabet noodles. Junior is so busy finding letters and numbers in his soup that the meal that he complained was "boring" minutes before dinner disappears with astonishing speed. This post details some of the funner ways I've found to reinforce alphabet learning.

If you thought alphabet noodles just came in canned soup, check your supermarket shelves. Dried pasta alphabets weren't available at my small local supermarket, but the larger multistate chain's pasta section contained small boxes of Ronzoni alphabet noodles. If you can't find them at all, try an online grocer (also handy for whole wheat and gluten free varieties).



Refrigerator letters have freaked me out ever since I read Stephen King's Bag of Bones--but I love them anyway as a teaching tool. Thankfully, supernatural forces haven't yet spelled anything out on our fridge, but every time a group of kids comes over, names and short sentences appear. We have the classic multicolored magnetic alphabet, but hosts a DIY tutorial for neutral kitchen magnets. features a nice video tutorial for making homemade magnets--helpful for walking small fry who can't read yet through the steps. Techie family?'s many tutorials include one for making refrigerator magnets from old keyboard parts.

Once your children know the basic shapes of the letters, the shapes start popping up in unexpected places. I introduced Junior to the concept of "found" letters and numbers last year, and they've been a huge hit. Here's our latest.

The New York Institute of Photography's site  showcases another truly lovely example  if you're interested in this idea.

The New York Institute of Photography's site showcases another truly lovely example if you're interested in this idea.

We only have two numbers and a letter (3, 6, and R) so far. When we eventually find the rest of the standard Western alphanumeric set, I plan on making a book--easy to do with any online photo developing site. I'll be proofreading it using one of my favorite mnemonics, the alphabet song.

I like Super Simple Songs' version of the alphabet song. The video's vocalist talks his way through the song first, then sings it to the melody, so that if you don't know the song you can easily learn the words.

The alphabet book that we like the best is Richard Scarry's ABC Word Book. It has a giant version of each letter on each two-page spread, and then lots of examples of the letter in use. I also like Grahame Base's Animalia and the various location-based ABC books, but I've come to realize that everyone has their own favorite (see below for some great lists). 

Andrea Dekker's blog goes further with a terrific gift idea for a preschooler--an alphabet book with pictures from the child's life

I'll leave you with this snippet from one of my favorite movies, Muppets From Space. How does Gonzo's family communicate with him from space? Yep, they're just as eccentric as he is. They don't bother with phones or email. They spell out messages using his breakfast cereal.