Bilingual is Better

alphabet puzzle letters

Do you know what’s your kid’s favorite letter? It’s the first letter in their name!

That is a letter that they usually recognize even before they fully know the alphabet. We can use this for an activity that will increase vocabulary and sharpen their reading skills even at an early age.

All you need is a set of 3” by 5” index cards, a box to store them, a book and something to write with. If you are reading to multiple children with different initials you will need to keep separate sets of flash cards for each of them. If you are raising bilingual kids you may also want to keep separate sets of flashcards for each language, and you will need a bilingual book or books.

  1. Pick a book that your kid is familiar with. As your read the story, point out all the words that start with her initial by saying something like this: “Mira, ardilla empieza con A, como Andrea” when reading in Spanish, or “Look, apple starts with A, like Andrea!” when reading in English. Then write the word in an index card if you haven’t done so and put it in the box. If your kid is old enough she may write the word herself.
  2. The next day repeat the exercise, but rather than finding words in a book, find objects around the house that start with your kid’s initial.
  3. On the third day, ask your kid to pick any five flash cards from the box and ask him to come up with a story using all five. If he is old enough to write it, ask him to do so. Do this throughout the day. Every set of five flash cards that he picks will trigger a different story, greatly developing his imagination.
  4. If you want, repeat the activity for other letters, maybe the initials of other family members.

I think that you will find this activity far more effective than traditional flashcard-based methods that rely on rote memorization and repetition. The words in your flashcards will be fully contextualized and will not be just random entities. They will all start with letters that your kids can readily identify and, by using them as building blocks for their own stories and not just in isolation, these words will come alive and gain an additional layer of context that will help your kids incorporate them into their vocabulary.

I hope you and your kids enjoy and learn a lot from this activity.

Click here for the printable version of this activity.

Special thanks to Heritage Language for providing this activity. Visit their site for bilingual books and resources.

Photo credit: stevendepolo

 

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