Early Literacy Storytime: Singing ABCs

Early Literacy Storytime: Singing ABCs

Here’s a way to add some alphabet learning to your storytime! Knowing the names of letters is often the first alphabet skill children learn. But we all know how the letter names LMNOP all get squished together when we sing the ABCs to the traditional tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!”

One thing you can do in storytime is sing the ABCs to a different tune. Add a comment to the parents about why you’re doing this so they know it’s not just to be tricky and cute, but it will help their children hear the separate names of the letters.

First, sing the traditional version of the ABC song with your families. There are lots of ways to segue into this if you feel you need a transition (I *love* transitions!). You can notice the letters on the children’s nametags, or on the cover of the book you just read (“That was Three Little Bears. Look, I see a T and an L and a B. I bet you know a song about ALL the letters!”), or lead into it after you sing any song together (“That was fun! Let’s sing another song we know. Let’s sing the ABCs!”).

Then tell the parents, “When you sing the ABC song to different tunes, it gives your child another way to hear all the names of the letters–especially the ones that get run together, like LMNOP. Knowing the letter names is an important first step to knowing letter shapes and sounds. Let’s try to sing the ABCs a different way. Let’s try _______ . We’ll probably goof up a little, but it will be fun!” Give them the name of the tune you’ve selected. You might want to hum the melody first to get it into the grownups’ heads, then sing it together. Have a good time!

There’s lots of tunes that will work, but I’ve got a handout that maps out the letters to a few different songs if you need a place to get started.

Updated October 2015: The wonderful Jbrary team recorded themselves singing all the tunes on the ABC handout! Thank you!

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6 Responses to Early Literacy Storytime: Singing ABCs

  1. Sarah says:

    I have a hard time singing my ABCs to a different song! I keep practicing but the old way is so ingrained in my head. It’s a small thing but I really want to improve on it. You’d think considering how well I know Twinkle Twinkle (and can match OTHER songs to it) this would be a snap.

  2. Melissa says:

    I know, Sarah! It’s pretty ingrained, isn’t it? I found it helped when I wrote out the letters to the syllables of new songs…did you check out the handout I linked? Try choosing just ONE new tune and sing it in the car or on the bus for a couple weeks! 🙂

  3. (Another) Sarah says:

    Thank you for posting this! I’ve been trying to incorporate more songs into my story time repertoire, and this sounds like a great idea. I’m excited to try this with my story time kids.

  4. Eileen Jenkins says:

    We sing the alphabet song at every preschool story time (ages 3-5) as I point to the letters on the wall. We have to sing all the letters slow enough for this old lady to point to each one. 🙂 At the end of the letters we sing, “Now I know my ABCs. Next time sing them backward with me!” I always show shock and dismay at this! Then we sing the alphabet backward with me pointing, again, to each letter. We end with, “Now I’ve said my ZYXs. Bet that’s not what you expected!”

  5. Melissa says:

    I love the backward ABCs! Very fun!

  6. Valerie says:

    Thank you! This is exactly what I was looking for. 🙂 The handout you linked helps a lot to getting the letters down with the tunes – that’s what I was having trouble with.

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