Alphabet blocks are nearly everyone's favorite toy, and for good reason. Kids find the simple, eye-catching design irresistible, and parents love the versatility of these blocks, which inspire all sorts of play and learning throughout childhood. In fact, you can introduce enriching alphabet-block activities before your baby can sit up, and when your child starts preschool or kindergarten the colorful wooden pieces are still educational. Here are some entertaining and age-appropriate activities for you and your child.
Infants: Alphabet blocks are just the right size for early fine-motor skill practice. Just put a few in front of your baby during tummy time and let your little one practice picking them up! (Note: It's best to wait until babies have learned a bit of hand control before doing this activity, so they don't knock themselves in the face.)
1-year-olds: By the time children are about a year old, they will be able to knock over towers you build. This is a great cause-and-effect activity, and lots of fun, too. And don't worry ¾ before the year is out, toddlers will have the necessary fine-motor development to build their own towers.
2-year-olds: Color time! Use the four simple and distinct colors on the alphabet blocks to teach your toddler about different colors. Red and blue are generally easier to say than other colors. Yellow? Well, that one may take a little practice.
3-year-olds: Many preschoolers of this age understand the concept of one, more than one, and maybe even specific numbers of objects. This is also a good age to begin one-to-one correspondence. Help them to count the blocks with their fingers. Set out a few red blocks and ask them to put a green block next to each red one.
4-year-olds: Now it's time to use the alphabet block to learn... the alphabet! Start working on letter recognition by naming each block as you pick it up and show it to your child. "This is an A. Can you find another A?" Every time you talk about a letter say the sound and a word starting with that sound. Have your child repeat the sounds and the words.
5-year-olds: When your child is familiar with the letters and sounds, you can start putting the letters together to form simple words. A great tactic for 5-year-olds is to show them how to spell their name.