When someone says- "My baby knows all his letters. He can sign the ABC Song!" That's amazing, maybe he's musically gifted. It doesn't necessarily mean he knows his letters. Let me explain...
The ABC Song is a sweet little song. But that's just it, it's just a song. If your little one can sing the ABC Song, that's great, but it's just as helpful to reading as knowing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Actually both of these songs CAN help build reading skills if you use them as a tool instead of just a song. For Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, you can point out the rhymes and make up new ones- Twinkle Twinkle Little Car, how I wonder what your are. Your little one will get some giggles and start to learn about rhyme.
Knowing the ABC Song doesn't mean your little one knows his or her letters. You can, however, use the song to help teach alphabetic knowledge. I have a fun activity that does just that called Sing to A, B, or C. This is a game that uses the ABC Song as a tool for learning letter names and growing letter recognition.
Here's how you play- Instead of singing the whole song. Pick a letter and stop at it. Let's sing to the letter D- 🎶 A, B, C, D stop 🎶. It helps your little one start to recognize the individual units of meaning in the song- the letters of our alphabet.
You can take this a step further and look at the alphabet while you sing. Point to each letter as you sing along. When you get to the chosen letter, your little one's finger should stop there at the letter. This activity will eliminate children thinking LMONP is one letter. (Warning: Your little one will want to play this over and over.)
As you can see, it's much more complicated than just being able to sing the Alphabet Song. To really be ready for phonics instruction, little ones need to have an intimate realtionship with letters. They should know them by sight, by name, and be able to tell you the sound they make. Once they start to learn how letters represent sounds, and have to actually use this knowledge to sound out words, their brain will need space to bring in these new skills. Reading struggles will creep in if they're still trying to figure out the difference between b and d.
So use the ABC Song to your advantage! Play Sing to A, B, or C.
I believe in this activity so much I wrote a book on it. It is a children's book called Sing to ABC- an awesome alphabet game. It's fun. It's interactive, and it's available for pre-order now. Trust me, your little one is going to ask you to read it over and over. See more details here.
Do you look at the ABC Song in a different way now? Don't stop singing it! But now you know how to use it in a meaningful way.
P.S. If your into history like me, you'll love this little article on who wrote the ABC Song. You can also click to see the original sheet music for it. It's actually part of a bigger song called The Schoolmaster.