I had no trouble whatsoever teaching Cecilia her alphabet, colors, numbers, shapes, and many opposites. Yet when it came to trying to teach her the sounds letters make, whenever I tried, she looked at me either like I was nuts or like I just asked her to scrub the underside of the car. She loves being read to and memorizes books so she can "read" them to herself, and yet when I would try to point out a letter in book and go over its sound, she got upset at me for interupting the book. I knew she would like to learn to read given how much she enjoys reading and yet teaching her the sounds letters make seemed like an impossibility.
So I asked a friend of mine, and homeschooling mother of five (ages 7 and under) if she had any suggestions. She recommended the Leap Frog Letter Factory. I ordered it and it arrived on Monday. She has watched it I don't know how many times since then. She absolutely loves it. And she is repeating the sounds the letters make .. most of them as accurate as I could do it myself. I was pleasantly surprised by the video. I was impressed by how creatively they explain each letter's sound. For example, the A says, "Ah!" when a monster scares the letter A. The hot and tired H gives a panting "ha" as it pines for water. There are wonderful images, songs, examples and review of all the letters and their sounds. And Cecilia is learning the sounds the letters make without it feeling like she is really working at it.
I also purchased the Leap Frog Talking Words Factory which Cecilia also enjoys a great deal. It builds on the Letter Factory using the sounds learned in that video to build 3 and a few 4 letter words. It is done in a rhyming fashion as well so Cecilia is also picking up how some words sound the same and have the same letter combinations.
I also purchased the Leap Frog Talking Words Factory 2 - Code Word Caper, but that one is a bit too advanced for Cecilia yet and has been hidden. It explains how vowels can make more than one sound and even new sounds when combined. It explains the silent E and other advanced rules of reading. (I admit I haven't watched all of this one yet as I don't want Cecilia watching it yet and getting confused.)
I've been so pleased with how well these videos have been done and how well Cecilia has received them and been learning the sounds of letters even in the first week, I simply had to put up a post recommending them to any other parents out there struggling with teaching their children this crucial step to learning how to read. I think it is the first set of DVDs I have a hard time minding Cecilia watching over and over again.