history of the alphabet

We have been learning about the history of the alphabet around here lately; inspired by a wonderful book we checked out from the library-

 Ox, House, Stick The History of Our Alphabet by Don Robb (visit the link to see more pages of the book) chronicles the origins of our modern-day alphabet that begun 4,000 years ago during the time of the Sinaitic people.

A fun bit of trivia we learned today involves the letter E. Notice its Sinaitic symbol below- Most scholars today believe that the drawing simply represented a person expressing surprise; the shout of surprise- “he!” 
Now notice that the letter A symbol is an ox, turn our modern-day A upside down and you can still find the horns!

I found a  free activity guide to go with the book including a handout of the first alphabet of the Sinaitic people (pictured above).
The chart below is from Alphabet and Letter, the site includes some fun and interesting history about each letter of the alphabet.
Egyptian alphabet

Fauna wants to write her name old alphabet style…..hmm, I wonder if I can get her to embroider it then? That would be pretty neat!

“That’s all.”


  • April 11, 2010 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    We’ve been working our way through this book too and just love it.
    We also just finished reading the Phantom Tollbooth as a family read-aloud, with its own fantastical take on the origins and importance of both letters and numbers.

  • April 6, 2010 - 8:04 pm | Permalink

    What a cool book. Thanks for sharing the book and for the link to the activity page.


  • April 1, 2010 - 7:08 pm | Permalink

    NEAT-O!! I am so amazed by the similarities! I have to do more research on this… Thanks for sharing! Has spring finally sprung for you too?

  • April 1, 2010 - 1:01 pm | Permalink

    Embroidered! Oh my! That would be lovely…Great ideas! Love your blog. It always gives!

  • April 1, 2010 - 12:03 pm | Permalink

    That looks like a fantastic book, I was always (and still am) interested in both alphabet and word origins (especially latin).

    I think my interest in it has laid a good foundation for the understanding of other languages, being a Brit living in Germany this has come in unbelievably useful in difficult translations!

    Shame my boy is still a little young for this, but I will certainly keep it in mind for when he gets to a more appropriate age!

  • March 31, 2010 - 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I’m getting that book. How cool. Maybe Blue Eyed Boy will get interested in writing. :)

  • Dianne
    March 31, 2010 - 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for all the great ideas for homeschooling we, my two kids and I, love your blog. We can’t wait to get that book and check it out.

  • March 31, 2010 - 5:53 am | Permalink

    How cool! Thanks for such an interesting post!

    This is just a suggestion/request in case you’re ever running short of blog-post ideas… I’d love it if you could think back and describe some of the outdoor nature-appreciation activities you did with your girls when they were really small, say, around two? I *love* how you find so many ways to help them love and be aware of their environment, but my daughter is still so little that most of the ideas are still in the save-it-for-later category. I bet you had fantastic ideas for toddlers, too, and I’d love to hear about them if you ever have a free moment!

  • March 31, 2010 - 1:19 am | Permalink

    Wow! I’m totally looking for this in the library. How interesting!

  • March 30, 2010 - 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Thats so cool, and if you could get her to embroider that.. OH MY!!

  • March 30, 2010 - 8:05 pm | Permalink

    That is definitely going on my library book list. Neat! Thanks for sharing.

    kristen : )

  • March 30, 2010 - 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for following my blog. I may not have found yours other wise. I can’t wait to explore all of your nature links.

  • March 30, 2010 - 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Ooh this is a neat book…. despite having a reluctant writer I think the chart will come in handy for secret code messages !! We’ll give it a try :0)

  • March 30, 2010 - 12:54 pm | Permalink

    What an awesome book – I’ve got to get that one…

  • March 30, 2010 - 11:39 am | Permalink

    What a cool book! Thank you for sharing. I’m going to check the library now!

  • March 30, 2010 - 11:29 am | Permalink

    You gals are always doing such fun things! Off to order this from our local library! :)

  • March 30, 2010 - 10:57 am | Permalink

    ooo! this post is exciting!
    its a must share with my kids!


  • March 30, 2010 - 8:40 am | Permalink

    I was a public middle school Social Studies teacher for 14 years, and one of my favorite units with the kids was when we would study the Phoenicians and discuss the development of the alphabet. Teachers around the building would always say that they always knew when I hit that unit because suddenly kids would be writing their name in ancient letters, or they’d confiscate notes written in a code of ancient letters. It was all so much fun!

  • March 30, 2010 - 8:13 am | Permalink

    Interesting! I’ll have to look for this book at our library.

  • March 30, 2010 - 7:50 am | Permalink

    Love this, Lisa. We are taking several grandchildren on vacation this summer for a week and this would be a great book to take along because it would interest the children of various ages. I can envision setting up projects for the 5 yo as well as the 15 yo.

  • March 30, 2010 - 7:31 am | Permalink

    Your post brought to mind 2 of our favorite Just So Stories by Kipling-
    How the First Letter Was Written & How The Alphabet Was Made.
    Here’s a link for them:

    Have fun with your Alphabet Adventures :) !

    Catherine :)

  • March 30, 2010 - 12:28 am | Permalink

    You really do have the most interesting lessons with your kids. I love all of the books and sites and craft ideas you come up with. I’m thinking I’m going to be spending a large part of our summer “vacation” trying out some of these ideas of yours so please keep them coming.

  • March 30, 2010 - 12:02 am | Permalink

    How neat! I noticed some Hebrew letters in there…

  • March 29, 2010 - 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Cool! We did some different alphabets last year – I’ll look for this book.
    I like runes, myself! :)

  • March 29, 2010 - 10:03 pm | Permalink

    This is fascinating stuff – just th esort of stuff that I can’t get enough of. I’m going to have to see if I can get this book at the library – I really want to read it!

  • March 29, 2010 - 8:59 pm | Permalink

    what a great book! thanks for sharing! I will definitely have to take a look at this for our kids.

    The theme of the book reminds me of two of my favorite stories, by Rudyard Kipling, from “Just So Stories,” called “How the Alphabet was Made” (which was a sequel to “How the First Letter was Written” [meaning, a letter written as communication, not a letter of the alphabet]. The stories are about a cave man and his daughter and how the little girl invented the first letter using pictures, and then went on to help her dad invent the alphabet from those pictures. I have fond memories of my dad reading those stories to me.

  • Phyllis
    March 29, 2010 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

    We had the same thing with the history of numbers by reading The History of Counting (I can’t remember who it is by. It was great. I will have to look for this one!

  • March 29, 2010 - 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Very cool! I’ll have to check that book out, thanks.

  • March 29, 2010 - 8:16 pm | Permalink

    Only you, Lisa, would teach your children to embroider pillows in ancient alphabets. That’s why I keep coming back for more on this blog—you and your little ladies are all one of a kind :)

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