Before students can begin to read, they must know the letters that make up our alphabet. Teaching both the name of each letter and the sound is critical instruction. A student who knows all of their letter names does not necessarily know all of the sounds, and vice versa. It’s so important for primary teachers to lay a strong foundation in alphabetic knowledge at the beginning of the year.
But what are the best ways to introduce and review letters? Today I have some ideas for working on letters in your classroom!
Using finger tracing cards are a great way to connect kinesthetic knowledge back to literacy skills. I recommend laminating a set of alphabet cards. Having enough sets for each child in a small group is ideal. As you introduce a new letter have each student trace the letter on the card, say the name, and make the sound.
By doing this, students are remembering the formation of the letter as well as the name and sound that it makes. As you introduce the new letters add the cards to the students decks. At the beginning of each small group you can review all of the letter names and sounds they have learned so far. It’s a great warm-up any small group! And a great way to reinforce the alphabet.
An alphabet mat is a great tool that you can use and reuse with your students all year long. Some of my favorite activities with alphabet mats include:
-Say a letter and ask students to find it on their mat. They can use an eraser or small manipulative to cover the letter when they find it.
-Say a letter and ask students to find the letter on their mat and say the sound that it makes. Then, ask them to write the lowercase version of the letter next to the capital version.
-Have students point to each letter on their mat and say the name and the sound. You can also have them saying the ABC song as they point if they are still working on simply identifying the letter names.
As you introduce and review letter names and sounds, it’s important to keep track of your students mastery!
A simple way to assess your students alphabet knowledge is with an alphabet mat. Be sure that the mat you are using does not include any pictures or clues that will help the student recall the letter name or sound. You want to be sure you are assessing what they know on their own.
Have students point to the letters in the box and have them say the name in the sound. With an additional copy, jot down the date on any sound that the students recall easily. At the end, let your students place stickers in the boxes that you wrote dates in. This way they can see how many letters they have mastered, and you have a quick reference chart for how they are progressing with their alphabet. I like to assess my students every other week. You can bump this up to every week for your struggling readers. The visual of the ABC chart is very helpful for all students!
You can grab my letter intervention pack to use these activities in your classroom! These are great activities for the preschool or kindergarten classroom at the beginning of the year. Or, they can be RTI lessons for students still struggling with alphabetic knowledge in other grades.
Want more tips for teaching letters? Check out this post!