Teaching the alphabet has always been difficult for me. Sure, they can sing the ABC song, but do they know the sounds those letters make? Can they identify them in print? Are they able to write them legibly? In most cases, the answer is no. And the way I went about teaching it.... didn't work so well. I used an old list I had from an old basal with a suggested scope and sequence. It was a little too slow and unorganized for me, and my kids struggled as well. They didn't have as solid of a grasp as I had hoped.
Over the summer, I looked into different methods to try this school year, and I came up with a mishmash of a few of them that is working well. A big influence was Kindergarten Smorgasbord's ABC Bootcamp. I liked the idea of focusing on letters in order, and spending time on the sound and the formation of the letter.
Here is how we are learning our letters.
Our Morning Message gives us a hint each day of the letter we will tackle. We hear the sound as we read our message, and we start to see what the letter looks like.
Then, we make a letter chart together. We go over the upper/lowercase letter name, how it is formed, and practice writing it in the air. We brainstorm words that start with that sound, and I (poorly) draw them. We then label each picture, sounding it out together. I really love the labeling- it teachers them what a label is and how to add it to your work (aligning to our Lucy Calkins instruction), allows me to model stretching and writing a word, and gives a little challenge to those who already know their letters and sounds.
We also made an "oddball" chart with words that don't fit in... such as when a little guy suggested "photographer" for our "F" chart. I am proud they are hearing the sounds, and this gives a bit of exposure to patterns the whole group won't get to for awhile.
I stress legible writing to my kids, so obligatory letter writing practice is involved. I use the Moffat Girls Handwriting Packet. On the back, I have Over the Big Moon's Letter Identification Set copied. My kids love to see what they will use to dot the letters that day (will it be crayon... or will she be awesome and bust out the bingo dotters?!?) We do a paper version, and then I add them to dry erase sleeves in our early finisher activities.
The last part- and I swear by this part- is the fun part, the part they are proud of all day and can show off. The part they remember. Some people make cute hats. Some use letter bracelets. Some use stickers. Some people, like me, get major sensory overload when kids are playing with hats and sticking stickers everywhere. These don't work for neurotic old me.
What DOES work and my kids ABSOLUTELY adore are letter tattoos. My kids are obsessed with rub-on tattoos, and any time I bring ink pads out they are covering themselves in stamps. So, I thought I'd turn it in to something productive. Using a letter stamp and some DIY ink pads, I give each of them a tattoo of the letters (they don't have to, but they all want to)! I catch them tracing them with their fingers, other teachers ask them what their letter says, and it's a reminder to tell their parents about our letter of the day when they get home.
This approach is working very well for me. We are only in week 6 of school, and I am already seeing a huge difference in their letter knowledge. I am starting to see them stretch and hear letters when they label and write, and they have been ROCKING their ESGI assessments.
How do you teach the alphabet? I'd love to hear about it!
What is working in YOUR class? Link up with us and tell us all about it!