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.

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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 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: ABC Books Part I

ABC book featureIn a previous blog post, Teaching Letters: Sorting, we discussed the importance of moving away from the old practice of teaching one letter per week to exploring, teaching and integrating letter instruction into through more holistic, meaningful experiences.

One strategy for teaching the names and sounds of the alphabet letters is through frequent, repeated readings of ABC books. However, we need to be intentional about which books we are choosing for the specific objective we want to accomplish.

Aspect to consider when choosing an ABC book….

  • Do the words listed include the sounds that you are teaching?

For example,

    • Some books use blends instead of the single consonant such as bread for B. One book even uses knight for K!
    • Some books use a mixture of long and short sounds for the vowels which might be confusing to children.
    • A couple of books I have examined even use air for A or artist for A.
  • With intentional choosing of books and guidance from the teacher, we can use ABC books effectively to help expose, practice and explore the letters and even all 40 sounds of the alphabet.

CHOOSE with INTENTION based on your objective:

For Example:

  • You are teaching the sounds of the alphabet, what is your current learning target…
    • The most common or frequently used sounds each letter?
    • Exposure to or knowledge of lots of sounds including blends and digraphs?
    • The most common or frequently used vowel sound?
    • Exposure to or knowledge of lots of vowel sounds including diphthongs and r-controlled vowels such as A is for artist?

Intentionally choose the book that best addresses your learning target. Here are some books for beginning teaching of the letters the alphabet and their sounds. (note: next week’s blog post will explore books for teaching the sounds of the alphabet letters)

(Click on each book to link to Amazon.)

The Letters are Lost by Lisa Campbell

This is a good book for beginning learning of the letters of the alphabet and their most commonly used sound (except A which is A is flying in an airplane.)

  • I do wish that the author would have written the word that begins with the letter in lowercase as we want from our students and just highlighted it instead of using uppercase letters. You could use whiteout tape over each letter and have the students help you write the lowercase or simply point out that the author chose to add capitals to show the letter of the alphabet but that is not how we write.
  • Letters are shown in an easy to read font.

 

ABC: What Can She Be? 

ABC girlsAn awesome book for exploring a variety of careers and practicing the names of the letters but not for the most frequently used sound. For example, C is for Chef.

 

 

 

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming

One long sentence as the mouse constructs the alphabet.

  • Great book for an extension of action verbs.
  • Displays the uppercase letter large on the page- great for reviewing letter names.
  • Uses airbrushes and air for A with no other words presented for A that includes the long or short sound

 

ABC by Eric Carle

A simple format of one word per letter.

  • Some of the vowel sounds are the long sound and some are the short sound.
  • Some of the letters contain blends such as frog for F.
  • Displays both the upper- and lower-case of each letter.
  • Great extension for counting of the animals on each page.

This IS a good book for beginning learning of the letters of the alphabet and their most commonly used sound (except A which is A is flying in an airplane.) As with the book, Q is for Duck, you will need to point out that the author chose to add capitals to show the letter of the alphabet but that is not how we write.

 

ABC for Me: ABC Yoga by Christina Engel

Love how it adds physical movement to learning the letters of the alphabet. When we include movement, learning sticks.

  • Be very careful about words that the first sound is not clear. For example, in the word “elephant”, students often hear the /L/ sound instead of the /e/ sound. Make sure to overemphasize the /e/ sound.

 

 

51wfzW0QnXL._SX381_BO1,204,203,200_Of course, we cannot forget a favorite of many for teaching the names of the letters…

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin

 

 

 

Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood

Alphabet Rescue by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood

Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood

All three of the above books contain a storyline of an adventure for the lowercase letters of the alphabet. Great book for pointing out and naming the letters of the alphabet- both upper- and lowercase letters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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