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Introducing the Alphabet

Welcome to my new column, Introducing the Alphabet. These ideas are not just for preschoolers, but can be used as introductory activities with students whose first language is not English and remedially for any level.

To start off this column, I will list some general activities that can be done with each letter. Always feel free to choose the activities that appeal to you and your child, or to add your own. For the beginner, choosing one or two good activities per day works best. Then, if your child is still asking for more, you can add to that. Trying to cover each activity, for each letter, everyday will only frustrate you and your child. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day neither will a child learn all there is to learn about a letter in one single day.

It is also a good idea to review before moving on to the next letter.

In my column, I will introduce the letters alphabetically; however, you may want to cover all the consonants first before moving on to the vowels or start with the letters in your child's name to give them an additional point of reference.

LETTER HUNT. This is a fun activity. You can either take scraps of paper or use index cards. Write the letter on each piece and then hide them around a room or in a given area. Then, allow the child to find as many of the papers as possible. As they find each paper, they should say out loud the name of the letter. "I found a letter -- insert letter -- ." When they are finished they can count the number of each letter that they found. As the child becomes more adept, you can hide several different letters around the room and ask them to only find a certain letter or to find all the letters but naming them as they are found.

USING NEWSPAPERS OR MAGAZINES. You can go on a letter hunt in printed material as well. This could be a good way to use up all that junk mail that just sits around. Have the child hunt for particular letter or letters. They can cut them out and save them for different activities that I will suggest as the column progresses.

LETTER COLLAGE. Use the letters that you cut out, as suggested above, and make a collage of a certain letter.

HUMAN LETTER. Allow the child(ren) to try and form the letter with their body. This gets a pretty good giggle with some of the letters. Also, as they say their alphabet they can form the letter with their bodies and this will be an additional reinforcement for their memory skills.

SINGING. Use a simple song, such as Old McDonald Had a Farm and put in the letter you are working on. For instance, Old McDonald would go something like this: Old McDonald had a farm, e-I-e-I-o, and on this farm he had a (name of letter) e-I-e-I-o, With a (make the sound of letter twice) here and a (letter sound twice) there, Here a (letter sound once), There a (letter sound once), every where a (letter sound twice), e-I-e-I-o.

WORKSHEETS. Don't be afraid to incorporate homemade worksheets for each letter. There are several free worksheets sites on the internet that you can also pull from if you don't want to make your own. This will give additional reinforcement. This will also develop good hand/eye coordination.

LETTERS OUT IN THE WORLD. Another good reinforcement is to remind the child to look for the letter in their environment. This could mean letter them look at books at home or at the library. You could have them look for letters on street signs. Remind them to look at the labels at the grocery store on other stores that you may frequent.

There are several books that available through most book retailers and teacher supply stores that you can peruse additional activities. One of my favorites is called Alphabet Puppets by Jill M. Coudron (ISBN 0-8224-0298-X). It was originally published in 1983, and may be difficult to come by, but if you do find it you'll have a wonderful resource. Another is good resource is Alphabet Soup.

I hope that you find these suggestions helpful. Please feel free to subscribe to this column or my other two columns - Unit Studies and Arts and Crafts for Unit Studies.

The "Introducing the Alphabet" series:

Introducing the Alphabet
The Letter Aa
The Letter Bb
The Letter Cc
The Letter Dd
The Letter Ee
The Letter Ff
The Letter Gg
The Letter Hh
The Letter Ii
The Letter Jj
The Letter Kk
The Letter Ll
The Letter Mm
The Letter Nn
The Letter Oo
The Letter Pp
The Letter Qq
The Letter Rr
The Letter Ss
The Letter Tt
The Letter Uu
The Letter Vv
The Letter Ww
The Letter Xx
The Letter Yy
The Letter Zz


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