Our goal at Maktabatee is to provide you with a toolbox of resources to make Arabic learning fun and accessible. Versatile, interactive, and innovative, the Arabic Letter Connector is the newest tool to be added to the Maktabatee collection. It is made up of 104 magnetic Arabic letters and accent marks and includes a magnetic board that allows Arabic learners to put the letters together to form words. The letters are color-coded based on the form of the letter in the beginning, middle, or end of the word, as well as independent letters. We have been using it for about a month with our kids ages 3-7, and wanted to share with you some of the ways you can utilize this engaging tool with children and students of different ages and varying levels of Arabic experience.
For the Preschooler (Beginner)
For children just starting to learn their Arabic alphabet, the Arabic Letter Connector has a complete set of the alphabet in its independent form, the easiest way for learners to begin recognizing the alphabet. For our three-year-old, who has been singing the Arabic alphabet song for a while now, we started by putting the alphabet in order. It was important for him to “feel” the letters in his hands, and the magnetic board helped him keep things in order. When we ran out of space on our small whiteboard, we pulled out a baking sheet for him to put them on and he loved seeing them all in one place.
We also used our Arabic Alphabet Flashcards, and asked him to choose the letter that corresponds with the card. We focused on one letter per day, and made it a theme, letting him choose objects around the house that begin with that letter. He particularly enjoyed putting dots on each letter, which helped him begin distinguishing between letters that are similarly shaped (some pieces are very small and parental supervision is necessary). You can use an Arabic alphabet book (this one comes with a coloring book) to introduce even more vocabulary. At this stage, children start to have a better command of their fine motor skills and it’s a good time to practice tracing the letters in different ways—using sand in a tray, forming letters with playdough, or using finger paint to make their own alphabet masterpiece.
For the Kindergartener (Intermediate)
As children become more confident in their knowledge of the basic alphabet, they notice that Arabic words use connected letters, and they barely see the independent form of Arabic letters in writing. It’s almost like learning a new alphabet. In this stage, the Arabic Letter Connector shines. The kit includes four sets of alphabets—independent form, beginning form, middle form, and end form—all color coordinated to make it easier for the child to recognize. To help with this new skill, we pulled out each letter in all its different forms so our almost five-year-old can begin to memorize what they look like.
Again, we chose a letter to focus on each day, and while doing our daily Arabic reading, we pointed out the letter of the day, in as many words as we could find. Soon, he was pointing them out himself! So we started to put together short words that include the same letter in the beginning, middle, and end. As your child is now comfortable holding a crayon or pencil, introduce some alphabet tracing sheets that will complement their letter recognition. There are tons of printable resources for tracing and activities that we saved on our Arabic Alphabet Pinterest board.
For the Elementary Schooler (Advanced)
Your little one now recognizes the Arabic alphabet in all its forms, and can even sound out some three letter words. Now is the time to put this great tool to work in the most versatile way. Your child can begin “copying” words on flashcards or in their favorite Arabic books, or even make a word list of their own. We started using one of the books in our Early Reader collection which has only two words on each page. Our seven-year-was super excited to start putting the words together. When he saw the accent marks on the page, he went ahead and used those too. As children get older, they become more “critical” of our teaching strategies, and my son was in that phase of being wary of any Arabic “gadget” I presented him with. But this was different, he didn’t feel like he was being told to study Arabic. For him, it was like the work he did in his Montessori classroom. He told me how in class they would write out the word after they spelled it using the Montessori moveable alphabet, so we did the same.
My NatGeo obsessed son chose to write out the names of his favorite animals and then threw in the names of family members for good measure. I leave the letter connector out every few days and he pulls it out and starts making his own words, sometimes with the help of a book, and other times by asking me. It sparks some conversations and I try to make him use as many Arabic words as he can!
What made this product so compelling to us as parents is that it grows with your child. From when they start recognizing the alphabet, to when they start forming words, writing them, and reading them, the Arabic Letter Connector is a great tool to have in your Arabic learning toolbox.