Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Alphabet Quiet Book: A is for Abacus

This post is the second part in a series about the alphabet quiet book I'm making with the girls for preschool this year. To read the introduction, click here, and to read the rest of the posts (updated on a weekly basis) click the "Quiet Book" label on the right.

A is for Abacus
The first page of our alphabet book, A is for Abacus, is fairly simple compared to some of the later pages, but in many ways it's my ideal page for this quiet book. It sets the pattern for the rest of the pages, in that it has the letter appliqued with both capital and lowercase forms. Each page also has the activity's word embroidered on, both to make it very obvious what the word of the page is, and to let the girls see the letter used in context.

Inspiration and Page Design
There are a lot of quiet book abacus pages out there, and for good reason! One of the best things about this page is that it has moving, but not removable parts. In designing this quiet book I tried to find ways to have plenty of activities for each letter, but to minimize the number of pieces that can get lost. As you'll see in future weeks, sometimes I did well at meeting this goal and sometimes I spectacularly failed. 

I was especially inspired by this abacus quiet book page, and so I included Annie's 5-letter name in alphabet beads just like in the example. I used the wooden beads because I liked the look better than the plastic beads, but in hindsight the plastic beads would have been better since the wooden alphabet beads were bigger than the plastic pony beads.

One other abacus page I liked was this one on Etsy. I thought the way the beads are in sequential color order, with the "1" bead always being red, the "2" bead always being orange, etc. was clever and helpful. In the end I didn't go that way because I only had nine colors of pony beads, and I wanted to include Annie's name on the A page.

Preschool goals for using the abacus
Right now, we're using the abacus page simply to practice tactile counting to 10, and to have a visual picture of the size of each number. In the future I could see very simple addition or subtraction with our basic abacus. I thought about making our fabric abacus a little more like a real abacus, with ten rows of ten beads. That would be more useful long term, because we'd be able to do simple multiplication and division on it as well. But this really is our preschool quiet book, and my girls need to focus on basic counting this year. My goal by the end of the school year is for Annie to be able to easily count to 20, to recognize by sight the numerals 1-10, and for Laurel to be able to count to 10.

Other letter A activities
Singing songs is also a very large part of our preschool time together. After breakfast every day, and even before getting dressed in the morning, Annie and Laurel start singing our preschool songs. And often I'll hear Annie singing the same songs to herself up to an hour after lights out in bed at night! On our A week we spent a lot of time singing and listing to an A is for Apple alphabet phonics song on Youtube.

We also love watching Sesame Street Youtube video clips about the letter of the week. They have 26 video podcasts with approximately 6 minutes of sketches about each alphabet letter. Generally I'm a little skeptical about plopping kids in front of a screen and calling it educational, but I think the alphabet videos are great. Combining the catchy songs with visuals of what the letters look like and example words of how to use the letter is a brilliant combination, and I've already seen it helping Annie learn the letter sounds.

 The Sesame Street Sing the Alphabet album is a also mainstay of our preschool Grooveshark playlist. Here's "The Sound of the Letter A"

Big Bird / A-The Sound of the Letter "A" by Sesame Street on Grooveshark

If any of you have favorite alphabet, phonics, or letter A songs, either in audio or video versions, I'd love to hear about them! I'm always looking for new songs to sing with the girls so the same ones aren't always stuck in my head.


  1. This is our FAVORITE phonics song! It's from a curriculum called "Sing Spell Read and Write." I remember learning it as a child, and I have vivid recollections of the coloring sheets that went with each letter. Fun memories! Kaja loves this song and sings it all the time! :)

  2. Thanks Emily! I'm glad to have another song to add to our rotation!