Fall is right around the corner. It’s a season of change and excitement as parents help their children prepare for school and their life outside the home.

However, parents of young children face an interesting dilemma. When your children aren’t old enough for preschool or you can’t afford it, it seems impossible to bring the same structure a classroom holds into your own home.

I was dealing with this same problem last summer when I decided to put our playtime to use to get my son ready for kindergarten. Playtime is a very important time and is actually essential to children’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional growth. So I made it my mission to teach my son the ABCs through our afternoons together. Over the next couple months we made an ABC storybook — and many amazing memories.

To make your own ABC book with your little one, you’ll need a few things to start with.

On a piece of paper write the letters A-Z and decide on a food to make, an activity and a family member for each letter. If you don’t have any family members with names that start with a certain letter, pick a cartoon character instead. If your child is old enough, you can include him or her in this process. After getting your list together, pick how you want to create the actual storybook. My family and I used a photo book from walgreens.com that starts at $19.99. You could also scrapbook this on your own or just put the photos in an album.

Here’s an example of our pages:

A is for ...

Applesauce!

Apple Slice Painting!

And Aunt Annie!

For our A page we had homemade applesauce for lunch, painted with apple slices for a new tactile experience and we found a photo of my son’s Aunt Annie for the finished page.

Here’s another example:

E is for ...

Eggs!

Experiments!

And Aunt Ers!

For our E page we had eggs for breakfast, did a toddler experiment using vinegar and baking soda, and found a photo of our Aunt Ers for the finished page.

When your list is finished, you will have your own storybook. Seeing the pictures will help your little one not only learn his or her letters, but connect to each of the activities you did to create each page. As you read them this keepsake, they will learn the alphabet in a very special way.