Like most native born Americans, I learned the English alphabet to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I still recite it to the rhythm of that song when I am looking up names in the phone book:
QRS and TUV
WX and Y and Z
Now I’ve said my ABC’s
Say them with me if you please.”
Children learn basic information better when they learn it through a song, a rhyme, or some kind of memorable saying. Here is a group of ditties (by my favorite author, Anonymous) for teaching preschoolers and first graders how to form their numbers:
1-Straight down equals one.
2-Around and back/On the railroad track
3-Around and around once more.
4-Down and over and down once more/That’s the way you make a four.
5-Down and around, put a line on top.
6-Down to a loop, and six rolls a hoop.
7-Across the sky and down from heaven/That’s the way you make a seven.
8-We make an “S” but we do not wait/ We climb back up to make an eight.
9-A loop and a line makes nine.
10-It’s easy to make a ten: one and an O/ You have ten fingers, you know.
Introduce these sayings one at a time as you teach the numbers over several days, weeks, or months, depending on your child’s interest. First write the number yourself, reciting the saying as you write. It’s best to start by writing it big, with a fat crayon on paper or with chalk on a blackboard or sidewalk.
Next, write it in the air with big motions, repeating the ditty. Then have your child write it in the air a few times while reciting the saying together with you. Finally, let him or her write it with crayon or chalk, still reciting the ditty aloud. The next day, ask him to write it for you again in the air. Give him chances every day to do it again once or twice in different ways: writing in the air, writing in dirt or sand or cornmeal, writing with pencil, chalk, or marker.
By kindergarten, children need to learn their full name, their parents’ names, and their address and phone number. It is a lot easier to teach them addresses and phone numbers if you make up a little rhyme and teach children the information in that form.
Here are a few samples:
Hemley Way in Vinton is the place I like to be
The number on my house is eight fifty-three
In El Paso, Texas there’s a little piece of heaven,
In a house on Third Street, number Nine Oh Seven.
My house in Anthony is on Stotts Avenue
Look and you will find number eight six two.
Please say you’ll be my valentine
Phone Eight Seven Seven Thirty Nine Twenty Nine
Roses are red, violets are blue
Five Eight Eight Sixty-Three Fifty-Two
Repeat these rhymes with your little ones when you are driving in the car or doing chores together. That way you will be keeping the information fresh in their minds, and they will be more apt to remember in case of an emergency.
Once in a while it’s also a good idea to review the information in a different way by saying, “Let’s pretend that you got lost and somebody said, ‘What’s your phone number?’ What would you say?” That helps make your children familiar with the kinds of questions adults might ask them. And it helps them rehearse how to use the information they have memorized in a crisis.
© Becky Cerling Powers 1996 http://www.beckycerlingpowers.wordpress.com