Thursday, November 4, 2010

Learning the Hebrew Alphabet? Bingo!

There are many things about my son that fascinate me. One particular area of bemusement is the fact that Kai learned the Hebrew alphabet on his own despite my wife and I having absolutely no knowledge of it.

It all started last spring when Kai selected a set of plastic, magnetic alphabet characters to play with at the place he goes for therapy every week. Mixed within the regular letters were funny-looking characters which turned out to be letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Kai was fascinated. Different letters? He loved the alphabet! And now there were new letters that he could learn!

Later that day, on our weekly dad-and-son trip to the library, I found a book that taught the Hebrew letters to kids. Kai could not wait to get home so that he could begin memorizing them. He spent the rest of the weekend writing out the letters, and cutting some of them out to tape onto the wall.

I did a bit of research and found out that there is an Aleph Bet song, similar to our own ABC song, that helps kids learn the Hebrew alphabet. (Aleph and bet are the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, somewhat akin to our A and B.) The song is a catchy tune, and we found a couple of different versions on YouTube that Kai watched over and over.

When Kai’s Bubbe found out that he was so into learning the Hebrew alphabet, she sent him his own set of magnetic Hebrew letters, a coloring book, stickers, and a bingo game that all helped him learn the alphabet even more.

Between the books, song, magnetic letters, and all the rest, Kai was in alphabet heaven. It was only a matter of days before he knew all of the Hebrew letters.

One day, Kai took the magnetic letters to school for show-and-tell. His teacher reported that it was his best show-and-tell as he ended up leading the other students in a rousing rendition of the Aleph Bet song.

Kai’s interest in the Hebrew alphabet waned a bit in the past few months. But, just this week, it’s been reignited. Our regular routine in the evening is that we play a game after he practices piano and before he goes to bed. This week, he’s selected Aleph Bet bingo every night.

My wife and I enjoy playing games with Kai, but Aleph Bet bingo is really challenging for us. We’ve come to recognize a few letters, but many of the Hebrew letters seem similar to each other and many times we have no idea what we are looking at. We are constantly asking Kai, “What letter is this?” He is pretty much always able to tell us.

I don’t know where this knowledge of the Hebrew alphabet will lead. Thus far, he does not show any interest in taking it further to learn how to read or speak Hebrew. But, just the fact that he knows the alphabet makes me shake my head and smile.

Fascinating. Simply fascinating.

Here’s one version of the Aleph Bet song that Kai loves to watch:

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