Letter Knowledge: ABCs

Parents and caregivers make the difference by just modeling the importance of reading, surrounding children with books, and engaging in the learning process. By doing these simple things, children have a better chance at succeeding in school and throughout each aspect of their lives. Today, we wrap up our series on the six literacy skills and strategies you can use to practice each skill at home with your family.

kindergarten clipart

Our final topic is LETTER KNOWLEDGE, or knowing the ABCs:

  • Make finding letters and sounds fun.
  • Play spelling games.
  • Use materials like magnetic letters, sand and glue, stamps, flashcards and stickers to practice spelling.
  • Explain what is the “same” and “different” between objects.
  • Read alphabet books with clear letters and pictures.

As children begin to learn the letters of the alphabet, it is also important they learn to identify shapes, colors, and numbers. Our letters are made up of many different shapes–the capital A has a triangle, the lower case d has a circle, the s looks like a snake. Many of our letters have similarities, but they also have big differences. When children learn these concepts, it makes identifying letters easier. Remember, you can use almost any book to teach letter knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a book strictly about the ABCs.

Here are some great books your child will love reading:

Sue MacDonald Had a Book by Jim Tobin
If Rocks Could Sing by Leslie McGuirk
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
A You’re Adorable by Martha Alexander
Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming


Read, Sing, Talk, Play, and Write…

A few years ago, the Every Child Ready to Read program came out and encouraged parents to use five basic ideas to help increase early literacy at home. These skills are singing, reading, talking, playing, and writing. Seems simple enough. These are activities most children under 5 do all of the time, right?

If you are looking for ways to be more intentional about teaching the early literacy skills to your child, here is a great idea using a favorite picture book. Perhaps you could do one activity each day based on the same book.

Source: Ohio Ready to Read Facebook page

Source: Ohio Ready to Read Facebook page


Using Books…

One of the six early literacy skills we teach at the library is “using books.” The technical term is “print awareness,” which just means children are aware of how to read a book and the parts of a book. Today, we will focus on the outside of the book.parts_of_books


  • When you first pick up a book to read with your child, talk about the front cover and back cover. Ask prediction questions:
    • “What do you think this book is about?”
    • “Who do you think that little boy is?”
    • “What do you think that baby is doing?”
    • “Why is that dog doing that?”
  • Point out the title. Point to the letters in the title.
  • Show your child the author’s name. Describe what the author and illustrator do.
  • Use words like cover, illustrator, author, title, spine, etc. Let your child hear those words so he can become familiar with them.
  • Give your child the book, but hand it to them upside-down. See if they turn it the correct direction. Use your finger, or use your child’s finger, to point to the different objects, shapes, or letters on the cover.

Reading books together is important at an early age so your child can learn to appreciate the stories before they get to school. Knowing the parts of a book can help your child development a better appreciation for those books.

The New Ohio Kindergarten Readiness Assessment

If you have a child entering Kindergarten in Ohio this year or in the next couple of years, you have likely heard that schools are changing the assessment they use to determine a child’s school readiness. The original KRA-L only tested a child’s literacy and language development, but the new Kindergarten Readiness Assessment will look at the whole child.


The new assessment will provide more information on the areas of physical well-being and motor development, language and literacy, mathematics, science, social studies, and social skills. This is exciting because a child’s school readiness is more than just his knowledge of the ABCs or 123s. It also includes how well he can sit still for periods of time, talk with friends, share, verbalize his needs, etc.

This will be done through formal and informal observations of everyday activities and responses to questions or other activities. According to the Ohio Department of Education’s website, the assessment will not prevent a child from entering Kindergarten, but it will help the teachers provide a baseline so they can customize the learning experience for each child.

Click here for a checklist of the physical, emotional, and social skills you can use as a guide to determine where your child is. But keep in mind that every child develops at their own pace. It’s important to give them guidance to help learn these skills, but if they aren’t doing an activity quite yet, give it a week or so to see how they progress. This checklist does not include the academic skills children may need to know.

Physical, Emotional and Social Checklist: http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Early-Learning/Guidance-About-Kindergarten/Kindergarten-Readiness-Checklist