Monday, October 3, 2011

Learning the Alphabet Part 1

The other day, I posted THIS VIDEO of Zoya reading some of the letters of the alphabet. Back in June, when I was done teaching for the summer, one of my summer goals for Zoya was for her to learn all the letters of the alphabet (just the letter names, not the sounds yet). We had already worked on COLORS,  NUMBERS, and shapes (which I never blogged about). For all of these skills, I used the Preschool Prep Company materials. These materials are FABULOUS! Part of Zoya's Down Syndrome means she requires a lot of repetition and practice to master skills, as I've said before, and this program does just that! I cannot say enough good things about this program. And NO they're not paying me to promote them, although maybe they should??? LOL....I'm a pretty good advocate for these materials after seeing how amazing Zoya has done learning colors, numbers, shapes, and now letters.

That is not to say you can just buy the videos and pop them into the DVD player and walk away (although that probably might work with kids without special learning needs!) Just as with most materials, we need to adapt them to fit our kids best.  So for the alphabet, I bought the DVD, the letter flashcards (they don't make number or color or shape flashcards, but if they did I would have bought them instead of making my own), and the board book with flaps. The DVD is nicely divided into three sections so that you can view the letters 8-9 at a time. This is really important because it would be unreasonable to expect Zoya to sit and watch the entire video of 54 letters (there are 54 because there are upper and lowercase and a fancy g and a fancy a) or to learn all 54 in one chunk.  Zoya had been successful with colors and numbers and shapes because she was only expected to learn 8-11 colors/shapes/numbers (since numbers go 0-10). So I decided to divide the alphabet into the chunks that Preschool Prep recommended. That would mean Zoya would be learning 16-20 letters at a time. It did work for her, but in hindsight I probably would have broken it down even further and done 4 letters at a time (since they present upper and lowercase at one time that would mean 8 actual letters).

So we started watching the video once a day, just watching the first 8, or 9? (can't remember exactly) letters. I sat with her and reinforced the letters by saying them, or commenting about the letter character (A is an astronaut, B is a butterfly and bee, C is a cloud, etc). This association learning is an awesome concept and works wonderfully with Zoya. She remembers each character, just as she did with the colors, which in turn, helps her to remember the letter. Also, while we watched the DVD together, I gave many of the letters gestures (since the ASL signs for letters are too difficult for Zoya with her delayed fine motor skills). So in that video you could see Zoya doing gestures, which helped her to remember some of the letters. For letter "C" it looked like she was clapping, but she was actually signing "cloud." For D, she signs "dance" because the character on the DVD dances. For letter E, she points to her hear for "earring" because the character on the DVD wears earring. For G, it looks like she's hitting herself in the head like she finally remembered, but she is actually touching her eyes for "glasses," which, once again is how the DVD teaches the letter "G"...using characters with glasses and goggles. For H, she squeezes her face, which is her made up sign for "house"...I still don't know why she signs house this way LOL. For I, you can see her point to her eyeball....J, she signs "jump", etc. Using a combination of association learning, gestures, and the great visuals of the letter characters, Zoya was able to learn her letters!

More to come in Part 2......I will discuss some more activities that we did and how we used the letter flashcards!


  1. That is brilliant! I have a typical child born in 2008, and he definitely does not know the letters of the alphabet......or the numbers. Though he's my third child; I think my firstborn knew those things at age three :-) He knows shapes and colours though. I'm amazed by Zoya!

  2. So so awesome! Its great that you take the time to figure out what works for HER! She's lucky to have you for a mama!


  3. Zoya is 2 months younger than my 3 year old (high functioning autism) and she is no where close to recognizing her letters!

    Way to go Zoya!!

  4. I just had to watch your video of adopting Zoya.. :) Its just amazing! I was wondering if you were adopting from the same region this time? 11 days... so close :)

  5. I love the determination that she has to get it right.

    Thanks to you guys we use the Preschool Prep also, we love it too!

    Good Job Zoya!

  6. Zoya is amazing. So are you. Thank you so much for posting the products she really likes. I have a typical son and everything has been a hit with him. Just ordered the DVDs.