Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Making and Matching Letters

Writing 'H'
As all of Lachlan's followers know, he is obsessed with letters! He can't get enough of them. Every place we go he has to shout out the letters to us. He first began with capitals and now is on to lower case, though many theorists believe you should learn the opposite way. However as we didn't systematically teach Lachlan the alphabet this was his natural progression of reading symbols.

Lachlan has really reached a new level of symbol exploration. He is now able to write symbols himself which is a major feat for a child! Think about it. Not only do they need to have their fine motor skills up to par but they also need to be cognitive able as well. To write a symbol with out seeing it in front of you means you have to have been able memorized the symbol, picture it in your mind and replicate it using another instrument. Such an accomplishment for anyone; especially a developing toddler.

'H, H, and more H!'
As Maria Montessori believed, repetition is very important for children as they piece things together. Lachlan definitely proves this as he becomes fixated on a new symbol every few weeks. A few months ago he was fixated on the letter 'L,' for Lachlan of course! He drew L's every chance he could.He then moved on to 'S.' Over Christmas he figured out how to draw the letter H. He covered our driveway, back porch and outdoor furniture with 'H's' using sidewalk chalk. It is interesting how there are certain letters he likes to practice drawing more than others. He also likes to write 'T,V and U' but for what ever reason they don't hold as much wonderment or challenge perhaps as "H". Or perhaps he likes H because it looks similar to his favourite thing to draw; railway tracks! A series of 'H's' gives you a lovely railway! Who knows? It would be great if he could tell me but I suppose that would take the fascination out of it for mom!

Making the Letter V
Making 'U' with pool balls
Lachlan has also been having fun using his 'hundreds of languages' to create letters. On Boxing Day morning we were down at the beach house and Lachlan woke up in the morning and began playing with a few of his matchbox cars and trains. I was sitting next to him and he said, "Mama, 'L!" I turned to look and with his cars he had created the letter 'L.' Amazing I thought. This one year old never ceases to surprise me. A few moments letter he shouts "V!" And there you have in front of him a 'V' made with cars. Finally he showed me a "T." It made me think about all the various resources I could leave out for Lachlan when we got back home so that he could create all sorts of things.

Doing his own thing: matching letters
 It has been a fun challenge for me to come up with varying ideas for Lachlan to explore letters. Language and literacy is certainly one of the areas I loved studying while achieving my degree; but Lachlan has really pushed me to expand my thoughts regarding the subject and to think about ways of encouraging this development while respecting the unique characteristics and interests of individual children. To do this with Lachlan, I have offered a wide range of media for him to explore the literary world. Books, magazines, food labels etc are always available for him to read. To explore creatively he uses paint, markers, crayons, white erase crayons, sidewalk chalk, water and brushes etc. We also have educational resources such as puzzles, letters on tag board, magnets and flash cards. Again, we never sit down and systematically go over the letters as this becomes a chore and not fun. Instead this items are out for Lachlan to explore and do what he wants with them. It astounds me how he often discovers the intended purpose to them anyway, at one year of age. I had some flash cards in a box, which we never take out that often. He found them and began naming the letters. There is a card in upper and lower case for each letter. His father and I were in the same room putting away Christmas decorations and we noticed Lachlan was very content on the other side of the room working on something. I went over to take a peek and saw him matching all the lowercase letters to the uppercase and placing them all of the room! We have never showed him to do this or even taken out all the cards before; he figured out for himself that this would be a good idea. He worked very hard until the entire alphabet or organised and then trotted off to another activity. Just another example of how much we can underestimate children sometimes. It is always worth it to just stand back and see where they go. Usually they will surprise you!