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Monday, October 27, 2014

Addressing Letter Naming and Letter Sounds in Kindergarten

After doing reading intervention with Kindergarten (and up through 5th) for 4 years, you can imagine how many resources I have collected over the years.  This is the first year I haven't found myself scrambling or spending a ton of money on resources.  It's really nice to have organized binders full of wonderful resources!  Here are some of the things that I have found helpful over the years.

1.  Alphabet Cards

The ones that I am currently using are old and are a copy of a copy of a copy (you get the picture).  Last year, all of us in the Reading Room decided to use the cards that Kindergarten was using.  This way, the kids had consistency no matter who they were with.  I highly recommend this.  We all know how much kids depend on routine.  I'm hoping to transition out of using those old ones for next year because the new Kindergarten team isn't using them anyways.  With that said, I have a created FREE Alphabet Flashcards that are available in my TPT store.  With this free product, I hope to encourage others to create consistency for their students.

 2.  Vowel Song

Along with using the same Alphabet Flashcards, we also sing a song about the vowels.  This one is to the tune of "Are You Sleeping?"  I'm sure many of you are familiar with it.  Using a vowel song (and keeping it the same amongst your grade level and anyone else who works with your students) really helps students with vowels.  The first day I had my Kindergarteners this year they had NO IDEA what I was talking about.  That was completely expected and was addressed with a reassuring smile.  Sure enough, 4 weeks later, my little friends can tell me that A, E, I, O, and U are vowels.  They can also tell me that they each make two sounds and what those two sounds are.  So proud :)  I created posters for this awhile ago but this post has encouraged me to give it a much needed facelift!  Again, these Vowel Song Posters are FREE with the same hope as the Alphabet Cards!

3.  Letter Tracing/Writing want me to....WRITE the letters now?!  Are you insane lady?!  You know I don't even know what this letter is!  Ah yes my friend.  I do know that.  However, they go hand in hand and I assure you, you will look back and laugh at this situation in a few weeks!  Being able to properly write letters is a tricky concept for Kindergarteners.  And writing them on those nice lines we give them...HA!  But that's okay.  We're still going to practice :)

The first thing that I absolutely love are Stephanie Ann's Alphabet Mini Books for Tracking Letters.  I laminated them and stuck them on a ring.  I have 5 sets.  This is FANTASTIC to give to my students while I am progress monitoring.  It's great practice and they LOVE dry erase markers!  I highly encourage you to download this...IT'S FREE!
Another thing I love are my FREE Alphabet Trace Cards.  These have been out for a few months but at the suggestion of a customer I changed some of the pics.  I'm quite happy with the changes!  These cards go perfect with the flashcards that you could use daily.  It would really reinforce the connection by using the same pictures.

4.  Letter Finds

Our little friends also need practice simply identifying particular letters that are amongst a group of letters.  If they don't know that what they are looking at is a letter F then they can't tell you the sound and will eventually be unable to decode words.  One of our absolute FAVORITE things to do is use dot markers!  This goes perfect with another one of our favorite things, I Spy Letters- A Letter Search Activity by Teaching Products.  They love that the dots actually form the letter!  Gets them every time!  That little perk was extra helpful while doing the B and D sheets.  They realized that by stamping the wrong one it wouldn't help form the big picture.  I like that she also has it where they have to trace and write on the bottom.  I make them do that part first.  This is currently listed as $3 and is totally worth it!  I would have paid more!

If you are looking for something free, we were using one from Over the Big Moon called Full Alphabet Letter Identification Printables.  It's free!  I only switched because I stumbled upon the other one and liked the writing and that it formed the letter.  Both are great!

5.  Alphabet Books

There are SOOOO many books out there!  Not just on TPT either!  At first I was using the Itsy Bitsy Books from Kidzone.  I enjoyed that they were one page books and were to the point.  But, I don't like that they have written down that "B says buh. Buh, buh, buh."  We try to teach kids NOT to add a vowel sound to the letter sounds.  I was worried that parents would see that at home, misunderstand it, and teach them the opposite of what we want haha.  With that said, they are free and not that bad!

I ended up going with Teacherscrapbook's Alphabet Mini Letter Books.  They waste more paper than I'd like and you have to staple them but they're good.  I like that the vowels have two books, one for each sound.  The kids enjoy the graphics in them as well.  What do you look for in an alphabet book?

6.  Letter of the Week

I have been wanting to do this with my Kindergartners for a few years now but I was never successful implementing it in our short time together.  I think I've got it this year!  I don't call it "Letter of the Week" because it would take us wayyyy too long to get through everything!  I decided to call ours "Our New Letter" because I switch it out every few days (about 3).  Now, I don't try to jam pack everything I can about that letter in those 3 days.  I want what I do to be meaningful.  I decided to create my own Our New Letter Pocket Chart.  I have very limited space in my area so I squished it onto a small pocket chart I bought from the dollar section of Target.  I can only fit the uppercase/lowercase letter card, 4 picture cards, and the traceable letters that the kids do.  Included are blank cards that you can have students come up with more words that start with that letter and you can write them.  Right above the pocket chart is our whiteboard.  I hang up the teacher traceable sheet to demonstrate to students how to properly form the letter.  I'm thrilled with how this turned out.  It was just what I wanted.  My students are responding quite well to it!  Do any of you have a similar chart?

 If you are feeling creative, you can do something along the lines of what I did for my own son.  I printed off picture of things that he liked for his letter pocket chart.  He really loved this.  We've slowed down on it now that my little one has decided to continuously yank the stuff out of the chart lol.  I turned it into a sight word chart and he stopped touching it.  I think the words aren't as interesting as the pictures haha.  Can you tell we love Thomas?

7.  Multisensory Tools

Tired of doing the same old paper/pencil activities?  Try one of these!  We love playdough!  I searched high and low for the perfect playdough letter mats.  I liked something from each of them so I decided to make my own to better address the needs of my students.  Here's an example of my A-Z Playdough Mats.  On the left, students can build the letter with the playdough.  On the right, they must trace/write the letters and circle the 3 pictures that have the correct beginning sound.  They ask every day to use playdough!  Even my older grade groups want to use it!

If you are on Pinterest (and you probably are if you are reading my blog haha) then you have probably come across the following activity.  I followed the directions from Teach Preschool on how to make a hair gel sensory bag for writing letters.  My students really enjoyed doing this. Of course, I had the one who decided to scrape his nail along the bag despite me saying DON'T DO THAT and he tore holes in it *sigh*.  I also didn't use enough hair gel.  You need like most of the bottle!  I also heard fingerpaint works.  I might try that!

8.  Games

Who doesn't love a fun game?  Kindergartners THRIVE when they are truly engaged in an activity and games tend to do this.  Some of these can be considered more "activities" but I think they're still fun!

The first super simple "game" I like is giving my students about 3-4 letter dice.  I let them roll it and line them up.  I then either ask them to tell me the name of each letter, the sound, or both.  Right now we're just doing letter name.  If you don't have letter dice you can make your own with paper or writing them on small wooden blocks you can find at a craft store.  You can find some here on Amazon.

Another great activity is uppercase/lowercase matching.  I like to do my Uppercase & Lowercase Acorn Match with my kindergarten and first grade groups.  I spread out the bottom part of the acorns which have the uppercase letters on them.  I think have my students reach into a bag and pull out an acorn top.  The tops have the lower case letter.  They love putting the acorns together.

Another favorite is "I Have, Who Has?"  I haven't done it quite yet this year because I think they need to become a bit more comfortable with their letters.  The version I have has the letters in alphabetical order.  I want to also get one with them out of order (the older ones pick up on it lol).  Head over to Lanier's Lions to pick up their FREE I Have Who Has Letter Recognition Game.

This week, we plan on using our new game "Pop For Letters" that I got from Amazon.  I have the blends version and the older kids love it.  I tested this one out on my preschooler and he did great!  I think I will need to buy one for home too!  The concept is super simple, pick a piece of popcorn and say the letter name/sound/both.  Keep it if you are right.  If you pick a "POP" you must put everything back!

Here's another simple but fun activity.  I created an "Alphabet Soup" game.  I KNOW I saw it on Pinterest but I can't find the original!  I will post if I do.  Anywho, I ordered some foam alphabet letters from Amazon, got a bowl, a spoon, and whipped up a quick recording sheet and we were good to go! 

Finally, I really enjoy Camp Kindergarten's Letter Sound Interventions RTI Literacy Pack.  There are really fabulous activities that my students love to do!  It's work checking it out!

PHEW!!!  That was a lot! This was awesome to reflect on and I hope this can help you find some great things to use with your students!  I will be trying to do posts like this more.  Is it helpful?  What are some things that you do with your students to address these skills?  What are some products you would love to see me put together?

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