I love back to school! Students, for the most part, come in excited and happy to be back. The floors are all shiny and our classrooms are neat and organized. Teachers are eager to see their students and begin teaching. One of those skills I will be teaching is letters and students’ names. You might think that at this time most students would come to us knowing most or all of their ABCs. But sadly, this is not so. Every year, I have a few that “x” may be the only letter they recognize. So I have got to get these letters to be “sticky” or stick with my little students so they remember them. Working with our names is a great way to start because it is personal and meaningful to them!
One fun way is Pinch A Pom Pom! This activity also builds hand muscles for holding and writing with a pencil. Hide the letters of the student’s name in a container with pom poms. Have the student find the letters and get them out with small tongs. You will have to stress that this must be done only with the tongs. It is easier for them to use their hands, but some of mine really need to build up hand strength so I insist on No Hands, Only Tongs!
This is a favorite activity of my students, especially the boys. All students need to be able to get out of their seats and move. But for some boys it is almost essential for them to add movement to their learning. I put bean bags with the letters of their name in a basket. I also add in 3 letters that do not belong in their name. They pull out a letter, decide if Yes it belongs or No it does not. Then they get to toss the bag into the bucket for yes or no. They are learning their name, letter recognition, moving and learning the words yes and no.
I don’t know about your students, but mine LOVE, LOVE working with Rice Boxes and on Cookie Sheets!! They get lots of practice identifying letters and matching lower case letters to capitals. When working with rice (you can fill the container with pom poms or other materials), I like to sit the box on a cookie sheet to help contain the rice. Add colorful ice cream scoops and they love it!
Using magnifying glasses to go on letter hunts is fun too! Just adding fun props makes the activity more engaging and keeps it fresh for the students.
Letter sorts helps students to notice the features of letters and can be helpful to students who are struggling to identify letters. You can sort straight, curved or even both.
Letter Puzzles are fun for students. Some will need you to start out slow and only work with a few at a time, then build up as they learn. I have high expectations of my students to form their letters correctly so for some tracing patterns with arrows demonstrating how to write them is important. I teach in my class that they form the letters the right way to help eliminate reversals.
ABC Arcs and alphabet books are other great ways to practice recognizing letters. Students enjoy matching the letters to the books.
Here are a few alphabet books that my students really enjoy!
This game brings out the competitiveness in some students! But the letters are competing not students against students. They spin the clip, say the letter or picture (this is important that they say it every time) and write the capital or lower case letter in the boxes. They color the star when a letter wins!
Reading an ABC chart every day is a big part of our learning too. After they get better at it, we change it up and read it backwards from z, or backwards across or from the bottom, only the vowels, etc… I call out what letter comes after Pp or before Gg and they mark letters with clear bingo chips.
There are so many different ways to help students learn their ABCs. Keeping it new and engaging helps!