I received a four year college degree in Elementary Education (169 hours because I was a NURSING major until my Junior year - when I discovered I would never get over my dislike of blood and people hurting) and I had never been told what I am about to tell you until I went through my Primary Montessori training (for ages 3-6). We were all amazed at what our trainers taught us and immediately realized it made perfect sense!
Are you ready for this? You teach sounds of letters way before you teach the "names" of letters. Of course, I am simplifying this A LOT, and preschools and kindergartens are (hopefully) focusing on sounds more than when I went through my college training. As I was reading Carolina one of her alphabet books and playing with this puzzle the other day, I thought I might share this insight with you as well. Even though I have known this since oh, say, 2002, it is still hard for me sometimes to call the "sound" of a letter before the "name" in a book or something. Of course, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom must be read with the names of the letters or it just wouldn't be the same!
Here's what you need: Any time you see a letter anywhere, you can do this. Puzzles, books, signs, etc.
Here's why you should do it: If you think about it, the main goal of children learning letters is to understand that letters make up words, words make up sentences, and sentences make up stories - therefore READING and communicating with others. If a child knows the name, but not the sound, they will not be able to learn to read. If the sound is learned and known, then the reading "mystery" will be unlocked and decoded more easily. The name is an afterthought that they will definitely learn soon enough. Did I confuse you? No offense to all the children that can sing their ABC's, but does singing that song really contribute to their sounds, recognition of letters and eventual reading? (But you should be proud of their singing abilities and memorization of a song and tune! :)
Here's how you do it: Okay, I have included this video, not because I think you can't figure out what sounds letters make, but because there is some confusion sometimes on the correct sound. For example, "L" is not "luh", but "lllll". I have (in my southern accent) shared with you the "correct sounds".
Side note: One of my biggest pet peeves is when alphabet books are published with pictures that have the incorrect sounds. (Owl was for O in a book I just got - which is not correct . . . octopus would be though. . . I think about weird things, okay? ;)
It will be hard to retrain your brain to say sounds instead of the names, but in the long run your children will be rewarded, promise!