How to Build an A by Sara Midda
How to Build an A is an alphabet book which comes with a net bag of eleven foam shapes. The idea is that these shapes can be used to construct each letter of the alphabet - the blurb asks, “What better way for children to learn it than by building it themselves?”
The book devotes two pages to every letter. The first page, for example, states, “A is for apple” and shows how to make the shape “A”, while the facing page shows a quirky drawing of an apple.
I like the artwork and applaud the fact that a simple typeface is used throughout so that the letter shapes are the same as those taught at school. (I have in the past been perplexed to see squiggly Times New Roman style g’s and a’s used in this type of book.)
However, one criticism I have is that the word chosen to represent “i” (usually taught in schools in the early stages as sounding like the “i” in “pig”) is “ice cream”. I note, too, that the book teaches capital letters, whereas a child would usually first learn lower-case.
Attractive though the How to Build an A is and novel though the idea behind it might be, it didn’t grab the attention of Philip. He will sit quietly for an hour listening to his favourite stories but wasn’t interested in hearing about how “E is for elephant” etc. Nor could I tempt him to try to construct the letters as directed on each page, though he thought the shapes were great for building a tunnel to send his trains through!
In fairness, I feel that Philip is just too young to want to learn the alphabet, no matter how fun or involving the teaching method. I imagine that How to Build an A could be a useful tool in helping slightly older children - and especially children who find it easier to learn by “doing” than by simply reading/writing - to memorise capital letter formation.
However, I am not convinced that for the majority of children it is more useful as a teaching aid than some homemade flashcards. I foresee that in our home How to Build an A won’t get looked at a great deal, though we may refer to it on occasion – and I suspect that the foam shapes are being used more at the moment than they will ever be used for their intended purpose.
How to Build an A is available from Amazon. To order a copy, click the link below: