Now I Know My ABC's
...sort of
Tags: ABCs, Educational Games, ABC Books, Alphabet
Posted: 2009-09-14 08:01:10 By: Joanne Oppenheim

 

Learning the alphabet is one of those basic skills that children often learn by rote as they sing the classic Alphabet Song that ends with  "Now I know my ABCís." But knowing how to sing the letters does not mean they really do know their ABC's.

In order for letters to be of use in reading, children need to learn the sounds the letters say and to recognize both upper and lower case letters. In choosing letter games and books, try to find those that show both lower case and capital letters. From the start, in their first books, children must be able to read words in lower case letters. So look for toys that include both upper and lower case letters.

Although learning letter names and sounds is important, it is just one part of learning to read and write. While they are learning the ABC's, itís important to continue reading to them, building a love of books and stories.

There are many toys and books aimed at teaching children their letters. Here are a few of the best toys and books for active fun and learning.

 

 


2006 Award
Alphabet & Number Puzzle Pairs
(eeBoo $14.95 Score: )

A handsome set of two-piece puzzles with easy-to-recognize objects to pair with upper- and lower-case letters or objects and numerals. The letter/number sides are color-coded along the edges to help make the matches. Illustrated by Saxton Freymann, well-known artist of How are You Peeling? and Food for Thought. These can be used for simple games or solo puzzle play. (212) 222-0823.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

  
2009 Awards
Wikki Stix Activities
(International Playthings $30 Score: )

This carrying case is loaded with waxed strings known as wikki stix that come in many colors and can be bent into letters, numerals and animal shapes. This set includes activity cards that can be used as templates or the materials can be used in an open ended way. This kind of activity involves the fine motor skills kids will need for writing, so this is a fun way to develop those finger muscles without drilling with pencil and paper tasks. 4 & up.
       The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.
 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

  
2009 Awards
LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Set
(LeapFrog $24.99 Score: )

For the 21st-century child, magnetic letters that talk! Put the "magnetic phonics reader" onto the fridge and it will play one capital letter at a time. The toy will say and sing each letters name and sing the sound they say. Letters are raised to give kids the feel for their shapes. Use these for letter name and sound recognition.  Look for the Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder version for simple three letter word games. This is labeled 2 & up, but is more appropriate for preschoolers and early school kids. We're heard that the toy will scratch stainless steel fridge doors...so find another home for this if that is what you have. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Kinder-Ready Alphabet Clue Cards
(Elmer's $10 Score: )

Two piece puzzles fit together when kids match the two parts of a butterfly or caterpillar, etc. This alphabet set is done with art by renowned illustrator, Eric Carle. The matching halves show upper and lower case images of the letter illustrated. The reverse side of the puzzle shows the name of the picture with upper and lower case. These may be useful for building sight vocabulary for beginning readers.

We were less happy with the Rhyming and Opposite Clue Cards because the two concepts are not the same, though the playing pieces will be mixed up in one box. We also found the opposite concepts a bit confusing. For example, one set shows a peanut in a shell and another with the shell cracked—the concept here is suppose to be open and closed; we think a window or door would have done this more clearly. This is just one example of several pairs that are easily misunderstood. If you decide to buy these, we suggest you put the two sets into separate ‘baggies’ for less confusion and talk about the opposite concepts. 3 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

This toy is only available at Barnes & Noble until 2010

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

 



 

 


2009 Award
Spin and Learn Alphabet Book
(Learning Wood $24.95 Score: )

This is an old fashioned looking combination book and toy. It looks like an old abacus with wooden spinners at the top. The spinners have graphics of the alphabet on one side and a picture on the other. All the letters are in caps but the book part shows upper and lower case letters with bold pictures of objects that start with that letter’s sound. The objects chosen are familiar and easy to know and name. This reinforces the letter sound and name. Best of all the illustrations are a lot like a picture dictionary and they are labeled with the single word that names them. For the older child there is a rhyming couplet under each set of letter images that uses all the words shown above. Though some of the rhymes are only ‘near-rhymes’…as in warm and strum or round and brown…but most are on the mark. A good choice for kids who are getting ready to read.

Age: . Award Year: 2009.

 

 

 


2009 Award
I Spy A to Z, A Book of Picture Riddles
(by Jean Marzollo/ photos Walter Wick , Scholastic $16.99 Score: )

In a redesigned version of their I Spy Phonics, this updated book can be used with children of varying ages in different ways. Author Jean Marzollo gives parents helpful suggestions for encouraging kids to read the ďrebus pictures in the text and find them in the big picture. Use it for developing rhyming skills, memory, and finally phonics. Youíll find the way kids enjoy this book changes as they are developing new skills. 4-8

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

 



 

 


2009 Award
Creature ABC
(by Andrew Zuckerman, Chronicle $19.99 Score: )

Two stunning photographs of each animal represent each letter in the alphabet. This is a glorious big book to satisfy animal and photography buffs of every age. You'll have to smile back at the close up of a happy faced hippo and say 'wow!' when you see the whole hippo in profile! From the zebra end papers to close ups of wings, claws, and fins, this is an alphabet book to remember! 5 & up. 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 

 

 


2008 Award
ABC & D
(by Marion Bataille, Roaring Brook Press $19.95 Score: )

An alphabet book that is a work of art with amazing pop open pages. Some need a little coaxing and pondering, but these are design feats. There is no story, just a parade of paper cut out letters that open in the most surprising ways. Itís a little on the delicate side, so, you may want to keep this on a high shelf reserving this book for sharing time. A beauty for all ages!

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

 

 

 


2009 Award
Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types
(by Sharron Werner, illus. by Sara Forss, Blue Apple $19.99 Score: )

Normal 0 0 1 102 583 Toyportfolio 4 1 715 11.1280 0 0 0 An original look at the alphabet. Each animal pictured from A to Z is composed with a variety of a particular letter in lowercase and upper and in bold and light for shading. The featured creature fills the page and other small examples of items that start with the same letter are found in blocks at the bottom or side of the page. While some of the hard to fill letters, such as U, Y and X are a bit of a stretch, this is a book for older preschoolers and early school years kids who will enjoy the esoteric choices on these few pages. They might even like making other alphabet collections inspired by this beastie collection. A great way to get kids to practice writing the same letters in a playful way.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

 


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