D1 and I have made it halfway through her alphabet notebook, far enough to evaluate how it’s been going. It’s been the perfect fit for both of us. We spend about five minutes a day on it, at her initiative, and she knows all of the letters cold; spots them, with great excitement, on blocks or in books; and sometimes takes her notebook with her to bed at naptime.
The first day we do a letter, I print out the page I already have on the computer (made in Powerpoint) with a picture of someone she knows (or one of us with an appropriate object) and the letter. Yesterday we printed out "M for Mama" with a picture of the two of us together. It has the letter both in book-style print and in a handwritten print, both capital and lowercase. I teach her the most common sound at this point, rather than the name, although she has picked up a few of the names from other people.
I debated for awhile what to call capital and lowercase, as many people use "big" and "little" or even "mama" and "baby." Both of those seemed to have the potential for being confusing, however. And it’s just the name of a thing. There’s no reason why "lowercase" has to be a harder word than "guacamole," which she had no trouble learning. (Admittedly, lowercase is not as tasty.) So I just called them what they were, and she learned it easily enough.
Doing both capital and lowercase at once is another personal choice, but although I prefer to start with lowercase, she had encountered more capitals in large print or game tiles. She’s very quick to pick up symbols, and it just seemed to make more sense to give her both at the same time. I don’t think I would do that with every child, though. At the rate she was going, this book was more a way to organize her learning of letters than a matter of introducing them to her.
Anyway, we go quickly through the alphabet to date, then print out the new page. Somewhere through the alphabet we started turning the page over and writing on the back some sentences about the object on the front. At some point she had seen me write a sentence and been fascinated by the dot at the end. So we come up with some statements we can end with a dot. She watches me write them and "writes" some things for herself. Then we punch holes and put it in the notebook. (This is the most exciting part of the operation.)
The second day, we take a blank piece of paper, I write the letter in the middle, and then draw her pictures of words that start with that letter. I usually ask her if she can think of any, or to confirm the ones I have done, but so far that’s a little beyond her. We punch holes and put it in the notebook, reviewing all the pages to date as we do so.
This is most definitely her notebook. She "writes" all over it, so it is not a pretty sight. She punches holes in every paper she scribbles on and sticks them in every which-way. I try not to look too closely (what is that black stuff on Grandma’s teeth?), and enjoy the pristine sight of the original pages I created in Powerpoint. She’s learning. It’s simple enough that I have the energy to keep up with her. And it’s fun.