We try to give our students a strong grounding in literacy and language. Some of this is done incidentally as we read books but we also spend some intentional teaching time talking about letters and the sounds they can make. I work in a dairy farming town so I like to use the analogy of a cow when talking about letters. I tell the children that there is a animal out in the paddock and it has a name. Its name is cow but when that cow makes a sound it doesn’t go coooooooooowwww, cooooooooooowwww. It goes mooooooooo, moooooo. I tell them that letters are like that too. They have a name and they make a sound or sounds when you put them in words.
We usually start looking at a letter with the Letters>Sounds>Words chart. It’s a laminated A2 size poster so we can use it again and again with whiteboard markers. We write the letter we are looking at in the first square (upper case and lower case) and say it’s name. Then we reprint it in the next box and say the sound or sounds that letter can make. Then we think of a word that starts with that letter. We talk about how you have to put different sounds together to make words and how they have to be in the right order. I usually pick a child’s name and then mix the letters up and try to say what it says mixed up. The children find this hilarious. Then we put the word we thought of in a sentence. I like to count the words in the sentence and show the children how I know it’s a new word (spaces in between). We also talk about how there’s a capital letter at the beginning of the sentence and a full stop at the end. I know as I am doing all this that some of the children in the group are going to come away with as little as “that letter is an A” while others will come away remembering everything I said.
Following this initial chart we then stand up and draw the letters in the air with our fingers. We warm up our drawing finger by rubbing it on our palm. We then draw a normal sized upper and lower case letter of the day. Then we do teeny-weeny little ones with our pinky finger. We follow this with giant sized ones with our whole hand. We sing along to the relevant Ants on the Apple song book and cd set song. Last year we also bought an Alphabet Soup set and have been using that to help prompt words beginning with the relevant letter. (I think I bought it from the TBS catalogue from Scholastic). Inside each can is an upper case and a lower case letter along with a number of words starting with that letter. On the back of each of the pictures is the word written in print which is useful. The letter is written in red and the rest of the text is black.
I write the letter of the day, in this case E, on the whiteboard and then we brainstorm words starting with that letter. We use the can as a prompt. I write the words on the board, underlining all of the E’s in the word. I also draw a picture of the word so the children know what it says. Then the children go to the activity tables and trace the letters in their Fine Motor Skills book. They also draw some things starting with that letter using the whiteboard as a reference point if needed.
If you click the link Letters>Sounds>Words chart at the top of this post it leads to my Teachers Pay Teachers store where you will find a download for this chart. I’ve made this chart free and it will remain so for the next two weeks. (Ends Saturday 15th Sept 2012)