Learning letter sounds--how we did it

Yesterday, on our way home from zoo camp, E started pointing out letters on signs we passed. Actually, she does this all the time, and I love that she recognizes them. I started asking her to tell me what sounds those letters made--we ended up going through the whole alphabet, and she got all but two or three right. My 2.5-year-old knows her letter sounds!

I'd like to claim that it's my awesome teaching skills that has her so on top of this, but that would be a lie. In fact, I *almost* don't want to tell you how she learned it all. (But just almost--you obviously don't write blog posts about things you genuinely want to keep to yourself.) 
The truth is, she learned it by watching TV.

We generally don't allow E much TV time at all, and when we do it's a movie rather than a TV show. We watch older Disney movies and Veggie Tales for the most part, but occasionally we throw something else in there. Like the DVD that taught her all her letter sounds: Leapfrog's Letter Factory. 

I first heard of this DVD when it was recommended over on Catholic Icing. I was browsing through her old posts and I came across her list of curriculum and supplement suggestions, which included the Leapfrog show. Our library happened to have a copy, so I checked it out the next time we went in for storytime. E was enthralled the first time we watched it (and her fascination hasn't dimmed at all since then). I didn't think much of it at first--she's loved everything I've shown her, to be honest. But when she started randomly pointing out letters I hadn't even attempted to teach her and even telling me what sound they made... well, that got my attention. After our checkout time was up (and the multiple renewals we're allowed), I got on Amazon and ordered the DVD for our own movie library. (Actually, I ordered a set of three because it was cheaper that way--we have Letter Factory, Talking Words Factory, and Lets Go to School. But the only one she's really ready for right now is Letter Factory.) While I'm a little embarrassed that the most effective teaching tool I've discovered so far is a movie, I can't deny that it works. And there's no arguing with that.

If you're an anti-screen mom, you're probably tsk tsk-ing me right now. I get it. We limit screen time as much as possible, too. But the Leapfrog show is only 30 minutes long, so I feel OK popping it in on occasion. E LOVES it. And it works. With no other letter-teaching efforts on my part (we backtracked to color review and shapes after our tot schooling fell apart at the end of last year), E knows her letters. She's not even three yet, so I feel pretty good about that. 

(FYI: The show does repeat the same song over and over, to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell," substituting a different letter each time. E thinks it's swell, but it's a little mind-numbing for parents. Fair warning.)

I still plan to go through all my letter-related activities to reinforce the lesson. But Letter Factory has been an unexpectedly pleasant surprise in our house, and I'd definitely recommend giving it a try!


  1. This is awesome! It is unbelievable what a difference knowing the letter sounds (versus the letter names) can make in teaching a child to read. My husband taught them to our daughter when she was a little less than 2 years old and now she's barely 4 and is reading almost independently! I'm so glad your daughter has learned them, no matter how it happened. :D

    1. That is exactly what I've heard (sounds vs. names)! I think she's picked up both, but the sounds are definitely the focus of the video.

      How have you helped your little girl learn to read? Did you use any kind of phonics program or anything?

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