Like most kids, we have been reading to Ky every day since he's been born. Several times a day. Not just before naps/bedtime, but throughout the day as well. Because of this he LOVES books. One of his first words was "Book!" and he would bring a book to Hubs or I and then back up and sit in our laps so we would read it to him. Because of this, we have quite a collection of books... everything from your traditional children's stories to learning books to simple picture books. Because of Ky's love for books, I thought they would be a good place to begin his learning and language skills.
We love this "First Words" book. I'm not sure when we got it, but we have been going through it with Ky since he was about 13 months old.
He has learned a lot of his first words from this book. We started by going through and pointing out all the pictures and then eventually I would ask him, "Where are the strawberries? Where is the boat? Which one is is the bus?" etc... After a couple months he could recognize/point out every picture in the book, even if he couldn't say it. One he began repeating the words and saying them, we would start doing the reverse and pointing to the pictures he could say and having him say them: "What is this? (Duck)," etc..
Another item we used a lot when Ky was first learning words were these flash cards.
We got the "First Words," "Colors," and "Alphabet" but really only used the "First Words" ones until recently. I started doing these flash cards with Ky every day when he was about 15 months old. Same thing as the book above... started by just going through and telling him each one, and after a few weeks we would lay out three cards and ask him "Where is the tree?" etc.. and then upped it to four cards, and then eventually five. Within a month or so he was able to recognize and point out every card, again, even if he couldn't say it. Some words were harder than others (umbrella, robot, wagon), but others were easy (cat, dog, sun).
He LOVES doing his flash cards and will bring them to me and say, "Cards!" and sit in my lap to go through them. Once he could recognize each image, we would do the same thing as the book and ask him each card. For the ones he couldn't say, he would just make a sound or say the first part of the word like "Pump" (pumpkin) etc.. but after another month or so, he was able to say every card in the deck.. in his own way, of course. Not perfectly, but he knows and you can tell he's trying.
I also noticed it helped to do the flash cards/books with him in front of a mirror. Sometimes he wouldn't be able to say a word but when he saw me and then himself mouthing it out in front of the mirror, he was able to say it better.
We have been teaching Ky colors since he was about 16 months old. I knew it was early, but with all the toys and books we had, I figured it would be worth a shot to try. To be honest, it was much harder than I thought it would be.
I tried to put myself inside a baby brain and figure out what would be the easiest way to teach him. I decided that objects that were different shapes AND different colors were not the way to go. I found it confusing. I also thought the flash cards would be too advanced to teach him colors.
These Nest & Stack Buckets from iPlay were my favorite color teaching tool.
I should also say we point out the colors in EVERYTHING. His shirt, the blueberries he's eating, a traffic light, Ariana's bib... We always tell him what color everything is and after a while we began asking him. We started with the basics: Yellow, Orange, Blue, Green, Red, and once he mastered those we moved on to harder ones like White, Brown, Black, Pink and Purple.
I also liked using this Little Tykes Baby Piano:
Also, Bubble Guppies (there they are again, those infamous Guppies!) has a FANTASTIC episode about colors. All their episodes are education-based, but this is definitely the best one that teaches the most. It's called "The Crayon Prix" and we have it saved on our DVR. I am sort of ashamed to admit that Hubs and I have even memorized the song and sing it to Ky often. And when he watches this episode, he screams out the colors as they are talking about them and cracks up. He loves it.
Now, he knows all his colors and LOVES pointing them out. On everything. Everywhere. He can't SAY them all properly (Green is 'Geen' and Orange is 'Oh-gin' etc..), but he can decipher them all and we are working on the proper pronunciations.
Here he is about a month ago (his pronunciations have gotten much better since then, haha!) doing the stacking cups.
Ok, this is crazy... but... at 20 months old, Ky knows his Alphabet. I was shocked, like jaw on the floor the first time he recited the whole thing. We'd been working on letters and I knew he could recognize each one but one morning last week, he comes in our room, pokes me awake and goes, "Mama? Mama? Mama...? A...B...C... D..." and recited THE ENTIRE THING in order. I was floored. And kind of freaked out if I'm being honest, haha... I definitely hadn't expected him to pick up on memorizing the order so quickly, but I guess we'd been going through it so much he just figured it out.
There are several books we've been using to teach Ky his letters... Mainly Dr. Seuss's ABCs, This Phillies ABC Book, and this Animal Alphabet Book. He also has this Scholastic Alphabet Poster in his room that we look at and go through often.
We noticed a little over a month ago that he had become really, REALLY into letters. Once he started picking up on them, he became obsessed and would point out letters on everything... The "C" on the Cheerios box, the "K" on his personalized chair, etc.. (He only knows the capital letters right now, but we are going to start working on lower-case soon.) Since he was so obsessed, we were in good 'ole Target a couple weeks ago and he started geeking out when he saw this Melissa & Doug ABC Puzzle:
So, these are some of the tools we use/have used on a daily basis to teach Ky. We do "school" for about an hour a day.. not all at once, but in 15 - 20 minute intervals a few times throughout the day. If he's bored or not in the mood, I don't push it. We either try again later or do something else. Again, we make EVERYTHING a learning game... We count how many grapes he's eating, we talk about what color the slide at the park is, I show him the letters on trucks driving by, etc. At this age, their minds are so mold-able, they just want to soak up as much as they can and I take total advantage of that.
I'm not a teacher by any means, but I do believe that with the right toys and games and instruments you can teach children just about anything and make it fun. Ky loves to learn, and he doesn't even know it. If I have any further advice, it would just be like I mentioned above... pick up on your kid's cues and see what helps them learn. Get lots of picture books and just make everything a learning experience. They are so smart, he just amazes me everyday with the stuff he learns and picks up :)
Hope this helped and answered any questions anyone might have had!