Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Letters for Learning

"Children's knowledge of letter names and sounds is the best predictor of their later reading and spelling abilities. Preschool and kindergarten students with poor knowledge of letter names and sounds are more likely to to struggle with learning to read and be classified as having reading disabilities."

For the beginning reader working with the alphabet is encouraged; for the child with dyslexia the alphabet is essential. The struggling reader needs direct teaching and constant review of the elements of reading. One handy item to have at home is a set of of magnetic letters. I recommend a set of upper case and lower case letters. They are fairly cheap, so I would probably buy two set of lower case letters just to have some extras.

Assuming your child knows most of the alphabet and can recognize most the letters there are a number ways to use the plastic letters which can help set a sturdy foundation for reading.

Alphabet arc with missing letter cards
  • Have your child make an alphabet arc with the letters. Show you child where to place the A at the beginning, the z at the end and the MN in the middle to start the arc. Make sure you say the words beginning, middle and end as you place the letters.
  • Time how long it takes your child to make the first arc. After several days see how much quicker he can make the arc. Always have your child start with the A, MN, and Z
  • Use different location words as your child sets out the alphabet. That is the first(beginning or initial) letter. What letters are in the middle? What is the last(end or final) letter? This is also a good way to introduce/practice the concept of right and left. Which letter is to the right of R?
  • Have your child point to the letter when you say the letter name. Note how she finds the letter. Does she start at the beginning of the alphabet, go to the sections the alphabet should be in, or randomly check the letters?  Later do the same activity with the sounds of the letters.
  • Ask what letters are before or after a letter. What letter is before Y? What letter is after G? Does you child need to see the letters to answer the question? Ask what letters are between certain letters.
  • This activity can be expanded to making missing letter cards (see photo).  Start with the missing third letter:  Example:  CD __  then the missing first letter   E_G and finally the missing first letter _KL
  • Place a letter in a paper bag and see if your child can identify the letter by touch.
  • Write the letter in his hand and see if he knows the letter. Have him write a letter in your hand and see if you can guess the letter.
  • Have you child pull out all the vowels from the alphabet arc.
  • Pull out some end rhyming patterns and then add a beginning letter or letters:  Examples: am,  bam, cam, dam, ham, slam, etc.   Start with short vowel sounds patterns:  ab, ad, ag, al, am, an, etc.  Create patterns with all the short vowel sounds a through u.
  • Have your child make the vowel pattern with the letters, as well as the rhyming words.
  • Letters are a good way to build a word if a child has difficulties with blends. Example: it, lit, plit, split
  • Match lower case with upper case. See which case is quicker when making the alphabet arc.
  • It you child has difficulty writing the letters show him how by tracing the plastic letters, making sure you start the letter correctly.
  • You might use the alphabet arc as a counting tool. How many letters in the alphabet?  What is the 4th letter? You can even use the letter for counters  for simple addition or subtraction.
Always start the activity with the arc and then do one or two of the activities listed. Sometimes you can have your child do the activity as she puts the letters away. For example: Put all the vowels away. Now put away any letter that has the "k" sound.

1 comment:

  1. These activities are a great way to get younger kids, pre-K age, excited about letters, words, and reading. While the kids think it's a game, it is a way for parents to see if their child has basic phonemic awareness abilities, such as rhyming, letter / sound correspondence, or understands directional words. These are signs of reading readiness. If a child has difficulty performing these activities, or shows a lack of interest because it is hard for them, it could be an indicator they may be at risk for learning differences. Keep in mind developmental age, as well.