What is more simple than the ABCs? Along with counting to ten, it is up there with every child's first academic accomplishments. Kids learn the song, they sing it like crazy, and the rest should be simple, right?! Well, in our experience, knowing the ABCs versus knowing the ABCs isn't quite so black and white.
There is a big difference between recital and understanding. To truly know and understand the alphabet children should be able to match letters with their name, and the sound that they make. The former skill is rather concrete; each letter has a single name and explicit form, and while there are lots of different tools to teach children how to identify letters names they all do pretty much the same thing. It is the sound that each letter makes that is a bit more complicated.
Vowels can be short (apple, elephant, igloo, otter, umbrella) or long (ape, ear, ice, oak, universe); other letters can be hard (go, cake), or soft (giraffe, circus). The flexibility of letters is not troublesome for adults, but it can be very confusing for eager children in search of concrete answers to seemingly simple questions. So, what sound should you tell them that "A" makes? The answer is to keep it simple.
Our Smarten Up Sound Chart (free download) is a great tool to support a child as he or she learns about the ABCs. Each letter of the alphabet is connected to a single sound through a simple picture. The chart also includes activity suggestions that are simple enough to do anytime anywhere. So next time a child asks you what sound "A" makes, you won't have to think twice about it, nor will he or she!