Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All About the Alphabet

Beginning of the year in a kindergarten classroom means alphabet, lots of alphabet. Why spend so much time teaching the letters of the alphabet? A child's ability to recognize and name the letters of the alphabet is the best predictor of reading achievement in first grade.In the literacy intervention classroom (Adams, 1990). Children who recognize and are able to name letters are more successful with learning letter sounds. So, how do you ensure your students will learn the alphabet. In addition to being in a print rich environment and having constant exposure to text there are many activities you can use to help children learn the alphabet.

A few tips to keep in mind when teaching the alphabet...

  • Letter of the week is not an effective way to teach the alphabet if the expectation is students will be reading by mid-year. 
  • Consistency is crucial. Make sure all the teachers working with students are using the same alphabet chart, the same language when talking about letters and sounds and the same key words.
  • Teach letter names before sounds
  • Teach important letters first such as the letters in a student's name 

When teaching children to recognize letters it is helpful to use letters they can manipulate such as magnetic letters. Using letters children can feel allows them to notice the features which distinguish one letter from others.

Focusing on a single letter and having students see it in text can help students see the purpose in learning about letters and prevent teaching the alphabet from becoming teaching an isolated skill.

These students are learning about the letter A.
They are finding the letter in a book and in a nursery rhyme.

Make learning about the alphabet fun and interactive. Some students will need to work on the alphabet for quite a long time. They need a variety of activities to keep them interested. Playing games like bingo, using puzzles and doing letter crafts can help children learn the alphabet in fun ways.

Alphabet Crafts

Assess students alphabet knowledge every couple of weeks. Here is a free resource which includes an assessment of alphabet knowledge.
Early Literacy Readiness Assessment
 Here are some additional resources for teaching the alphabet.
Alphabet and First Sound BookIntroduction to the Alphabet

Adams, M.J. (1990) Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning About Print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.