Teaching Letters of the Alphabet: Sorting Names

Learning about letters, sounds and words are important to developing young readers and writers. Letter knowledge is necessary, but it alone is not enough to read and write. Children will be reading and writing stories long before they can identify all of the letters of the alphabet.

In the past, “letter of the week” was a common practice but teachers now realize the

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severe limitations of this practice. When you spend a great deal of time on “letter of the week”, many children work on letters they already know, while others see and study letters out of context. Sometimes children forget last week’s letter while working on this week’s because they are looking at one item at a time.

YES! We still include instruction in letter name and sound learning with short lessons on how to look at letters- starting with those that have the most meaning.

 

Picture1To a child, there is nothing more important than his or her own name. In the blog post, Teaching Letters of the Alphabet: Learning Through Children’s Names, I shared ways to teach letters with names during whole group instruction and transitions.

 

sorting names FREE DOWNLOADAnother way to use student’s names is during small group instruction and during center time by setting up opportunities for the students to sort names to begin to pay attention to all of the letters in names, the path of motion of letters, and the similarities and differences of letters and names. We can differentiate our instruction for students who already know the names of the letters and present children with ways to sort the names by the sounds of the letters including beginning, middle, end and vowel sounds.

Labels and Ideas for Sorting Names: FREE DOWNLOAD

 

 

 

Teaching Letters of the Alphabet: Using Books about Names

To a child, there is nothing more important than his or her own name.  Using names to teach letters and name recognition is a very powerful teaching tool. See blog post, Using Name to Teach the Letters and Sounds of the Alphabet. 

This post provides lots of ideas for using children’s names to teach the letters of the alphabet.

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chartHowever, not all letters of the alphabet will be in the children’s names. We teach all letters of the alphabet during small group and centers but we can also use books with names to include more letters in all of the graphs, charts and chants we use with the student’s names.

For example, we can read A My Name is Alice by Jane Bayer and Steven Kellogg. Allow the students to choose a couple of the names from the book that contains letters not yet on the name graph to give a name to favorite classroom stuffed animals or pets.

Here are some other great books to teach letters of the alphabet through names:

(Click on the book titles to link to Amazon.)

A My Name is Alice by Jane Bayer and Steven Kellogg

51Uo-AorKtL._SY459_BO1,204,203,200_My Name is Yoon by Helen Recovitis

Great book to help students pay attention to the formation of letters and the meanings behind names.

 

 

 

chrsthanChrysanthemum by Kevin Henke

Students love to chant this name and add it to the number of letters per name since it is so long!

 

 

 

 

41iOW1kx8fL._SX260_Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

Great book to discuss the importance of your own name and of origins of names.

 

 

 

 

 

The Chronicles of Nannie by N.C. Memeh5101mm4bU3L._SX260_

Using Name Books to Teach Letters of the Alphabet
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Teaching Letters and Sounds of the Alphabet: Using Books (Part III)

A couple of teachers requested even more reviews of books that teach the letters of the alphabet.

As discussed in the blog post, Teaching Letters and Sounds of the Alphabet: Using ABC Books Part II, we need to be intentional about which books we are choosing for the specific objective we want to accomplish.

In the post linked above as well in the post, Teaching Letters of the Alphabet Using ABC Books Part I, we examined books that address the learning target of teaching letter names for both upper- and lowercase letters.

With intentional choosing of books and guidance from the teacher, we can also use ABC books effectively to help expose, practice and explore the sounds of letters and even all 40 sounds of the alphabet.

Here are some additional books not mentioned in the first blog post:

(note: the titles are linked to Amazon)

teaching letters and sound - review of books journeyintoearlychildhood.com

 

Great book to encourage girls to broaden their ideas of what they can be when they grow up. When using for teaching the sounds of the letters, however, be careful since C is a chef. Therefore, the book cannot be used to teach the most common sounds of each letter.

 

Another great book for girls, especially since it has women role models that they will have heard of such as Beyonce, Coco Chanel, and Flo Jo plus others that are incredible role models for them to learn about.

 

 

Great book to learn about different parts of cars.

This book contains blends; therefore, it would be a good book to use after the students know all of the most common sounds for each letter and you want to expand their knowledge of sounds. I do wish that is was not written in all capitals since that is a poor model of writing for our students.

 

  • Another book about car parts that does model appropriate writing of first letter of the sentence starting with a capital and the other letters in lowercase is…
  • A is for Alternator by Alex Smith

I also really like the realistic photos of the car parts in this book.

  • A book that I like for alliterations is…
  • Pandas Love Pickles by  Liz Lynch. It is a simple pattern book that introduces children to different animals and foods. In order to match foods with animal names, not all letters are used with their most common sound; although this book sticks to the letter’s most common sounds more than many others. So again this would be a book to use after students know most of the common sounds and you want to expand their knowledge. I do love that for letter C the author uses both common sounds with “Cows try cinnamon buns.”

 

 

Teaching the Sounds of the Alphabet: Using ABC Books Part II

One strategy for teaching the names and sounds of the alphabet letters is through frequent, repeated readings of ABC books, as we discussed in last week’s post, Teaching the Letters of the Alphabet: Using ABC Books.

We need to be intentional about which books we are choosing for the specific objective we want to accomplish. In a previous post, Teaching Letters of the Alphabet Using ABC Books, we examined books that address the learning target of teaching letter names for both upper- and lowercase letters. ABC feature sounds

With intentional choosing of books and guidance from the teacher, we can also use ABC books effectively to help expose, practice and explore the sounds of letters and even all 40 sounds of the alphabet.

CHOOSE with INTENTION based on your objective. Let’s explore books that go beyond beginning teaching of the letters of the alphabet and their most commonly used sounds.

The books below can be used to teach letter sounds beyond the most commonly used sound, letters in all positions in words, and applying letter sounds.

(Click on each book to link to Amazon.)

A My Name is Alice by Jane Bayer and Steven Kellogg

LOTS of words that start with the same letter in one sentence. This book is one of my favorites since it has SO many different extensions and learning opportunities.

  • Explore lots of sounds made by the same letter or letter combinations.
  • Great book to extend into geography and place a picture of each animal on the country in which they live on a large map.
  • Make a list or a book of animals that start with each letter.
  • Follow up by making a class book of alliteration sentences using student’s names.

Q is for Duck by Mary Elting and Michael Folsom

LOVE the riddle part of this book. Students need to already have a good working knowledge of the letters of the alphabet and their most commonly used sounds but this is an excellent book to help them apply those skills. This is not a book to use for beginning learning of the letters of the alphabet.

  • The students have to guess why a letter would stand for a word that does not begin with that letter. For example, B is for dog- because it barks.
  • Includes great critical thinking skills of associations.
  • I do not like, however, that uppercase letters are used in the middle of sentences. We can point out that sometimes authors write using different fonts and sentence styles but that when we write we do not use uppercase letters in the middle of sentences unless it is a name.

 

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Lois Ehlert

ABC fruitsC vegetables

 

 

 

 

 

and

Search and Find: Alphabet of the Alphabets by AJ Wood

Both of these books are excellent for comparing all of the different sounds that can be made with one letter and letter combinations starting with that letter.

  • Comparing the sounds in the book to the sounds that the letter makes at the beginning of children’s names.
  • See blog post on why and how to teach letters of the alphabet through students’ names.

The Alphabet Book of Lowercase Letters by Helena Feltus

lower casealliteration

Great book for showing the letters of the alphabet in all places within a word, not just at the beginning. This is another favorite of mine since we want children examing letters in words in all positions and this book shows both upper- and lowercase letter.

  • Follow up by making a class book of alliteration sentences using student’s names.

Alpha Oops! The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis and Bob Kolar

512Xk5956JL._SX452_BO1,204,203,200_

Great book for examining the letters in random order. The book refers back to letters multiple times as the letters argue and discuss the order in which they should be.

Includes a storyline.

  • Friendship and feelings topics can be discussed as an extension with this book.

Teaching Letters of the Alphabet: Using Names

namesIn a previous blog post, we discussed NO MORE LETTER OF THE WEEK.

To a child, there is nothing more important than his or her own name. Using names to teach letters and name recognition is a very powerful teaching tool. Names are very meaningful to children, therefore they are eager to learn to identify the letters in their own names first; it is very empowering and motivating for them. A child who is eager, motivated, and feels empowered about his or her own learning is going to learn more quickly and retain more than a child who is not.

Ideas for Letter Instruction through the Use of Names during Whole Group Instruction and/or Transitions:

  1. Each day choose one to three names during morning meeting or as a transition; can be one of the classroom jobs such as the line leader or teacher helper.
  2. The number of children names examined each day (1-3) depends on when in the day this activity is incorporated, and the amount of time provided.
    • If adding the activity to a morning meeting, you may only want to use one name to keep the whole group sitting on the carpet time short and purposeful.
    • If adding the activity to transitions, you may want to use 2-3 children’s names throughout the day at various transition times.
  3. Complete the same activity each day until you have used all of the student’s names in the classroom.

Examples of activities:

Round 1: Chant My Name

  1. Hold up a name that has been printed on cardstock with the student’s picture.
  2. Ask “Whose name is this?”
  3. That student stands at the front of the room and points to each letter as it is chanted by the class. (example with Becky)

Teacher                      Class

Whose name is this?        Becky

Give me a B                          B

Give me an e                        e

Give me a c                           c

Give me a k                          k

Give me a y                          y

What is the word?           Becky

One more time                Becky

(Can add movements for each response or a cheer such as fireworks at the end etc. If students know the letters in their names, then they can lead the chants)

  • During transitions throughout the day, pull cards and have students identify their name to line up, move to the next activity, etc.

o Extension: Teacher/TA carries the name card while traveling the hallway to chant the name in a whisper during any times that the students may need to be waiting in the hallway.

 

ROUND 2: Mixing Up My Namefix it

  • Show the students a name and have the child whose name it identifies the name
  • Place the letters in the name mixed up in a pocket chart and have the student sequence of letters in his/her name.
    • Differentiation: Ask students to place the letters in his/her name in sequence…
      • on top of the model of his/her name = letters are in the same font
      • under the model of his/her name = letters are in the same font
      • under the model of his/her name = letters in a different font
      • with no model in the same or in a different font
    • Encourage the student to name each letter as he/she sequences them.
    • Have all students draw the first letter of the name in the air- showing the students and verbalizing the correct path of motion. A Magna Doodle works well for this activity using the circle shape piece. Draw the letter on the Magna Doodle so that all students can see and hear the correct path of motion. (or a whiteboard)
    • Have all students say each letter in the name
    • Teacher: “What does that word spell?” Students: (say the name)

 

  • Extension: Graphing: Have students color in a square on a graph for each letter of his/her name. If the student has two or more of the same letters, he/she would color in that number of squares. Compare which letter is used the most in the student’s names, the least and which letters are not used at all in the names.
  • Extension: Add a large variety of letters cut from cardboard food boxes and cardstock advertisements in the art and creation station. Allow students to make posters of their names. This is a great way to add in various fonts. Capture
  • Extension: Write students names on an 8×11 or 11×14 piece of paper in large letters using appropriate upper- and lowercase letters and correct letter formation. Allow students to use a variety of hole punches to cut circles or shapes to glue onto the lines in his/her name.

For 9 more additional rounds of ideas, follow the link:

No More Letter of the Week: Teaching Letters Through Meaning

No More Letter of the Week

We cannot write or read without knowing what a letter is and it’s corresponding sound. Knowing letters, the sounds AND that they hold meaning to form a word are critical skills to learn during the early childhood years. The National Early Literacy Panel 2008 informs us that students who demonstrate phonemic awareness and alphabet recognition are more likely to become successful readers. Teaching alphabet knowledge concurrent with phonological awareness has a significant impact on the early development of the concept of language (National Reading Panel 2000; National Early Literacy Panel 2008).
Although there are many different ways to teach the letters of the alphabet that are successful, letter of the week is NOT one of them. Children need repeated, varied and meaningful exposure to the letters. Research by Jones and Reutzel also shows us that the teacher should only provide experiences and practices with no more instruction than needed.
When using the letter of the week approach, we are expending our valuable learning time on only a handful of children. Some of the children already know the letter and others will not learn it that week since it does not yet hold meaning for them. Exposure to all of the letters in fun, hands-on, meaningful activities allows for a natural differentiation of learning and as well as builds the concept of language and meaning of written print.
Some suggestions for teaching the letters of the alphabet include using students names each day in various chants, counting of the letters, comparing them, etc.; pairing letters with phonological awareness instruction in shared reading or writing activities; creating predictable charts with alliterations, reading lots and lots of fun ABC books, including letters in all learning centers such as foam letters in dramatic play to become the pancakes or cookies.
What strategies have you found to be most successful for the teaching of the letters in a fun, holistic, engaging, meaningful way?