Having alphabet posters around your classroom to help support children check their thinking about letters and sounds is key for early readers, for students with reading difficulties, or for students new to the English Language.
READ AROUND THE ROOM
As teachers we do need to be aware that the picture associations on our classroom posters, may not match a personally dominate letter sound association for an individual child. These associations sometimes come from names of favorite people, toys, or activities. After teaching the letter and the sound it makes, resources that allow children to make this connection themselves and practice it are what you need.
MAKING A PERSONAL ALPHABET BOOK
This is another way for children to practice the letter sound association. I do not arrange the classroom posters in alphabetical order but rather I start with the ones that are already known or I can quickly teach. Personal alphabet books should have the letters arranged in known order for the individual child, and letters can be added as the child’s repertoire of known grows. Keep in mind that children will add letters to their personal “knowns” from other experiences and surprise you with new known letters you haven’t taught.
One other suggestion about the personal alphabet books is to the punch hole in the top left corner of the page and hold the book together with a chicken ring / band. That makes it easy to add letters and remove them if a letter becomes a stumbling point for a while. Even a child who knows lots of letters and sounds, can benefit from reading their personal alphabet book and reading around the room.
Knowing letters and sounds automatically, frees up the child’s brain to deal with other ideas about literacy rather than thinking a lot about this small piece of the literacy puzzle.
This is a quick video that shows you how to assemble the alphabet posters into alphabet books!
Hands-on activities are important in my classroom. I laminate the alphabet posters to make a great, hands on tool for letter sound practice. Sometimes I just put them in a sheet protector. My students love play-dough so at the start of the school year, when we’re starting to introduce the different letters and sounds, I use the posters as play-dough mats to invite exploration of the letters. If you don’t like using play-dough, you can use these mats with any small objects to create an invitation to practice the letters by covering the lines of the letters with whatever small objects you have. Children can use small stones, beans, or buttons to build the different letters on the card. Children can also use the laminated the cards and dry erase markers to practice writing the letters. This is a great way to consolidate their knowledge of the alphabet independently in an alphabet literacy center alphabet.
WHY ARE ALPHABET POSTERS IMPORTANT?
Knowing and practicing letters and letter sounds are highly useful for teaching kids to read and write. Alphabet posters provide your students with so many possibilities… Here are just three of many reasons:
- Most letter names give the child a huge clue as to the sound (or one of the sounds) they make. For example, the letter D has the /d/ sound at the beginning and the letter F has the /f/ sound at the end. W, Y, and H are the three exceptions to the place where the name of the letter that has the sound clue.
- Letter names make great labels for letters, as many of the letter sounds are harder to make in isolation. For example, b’s sound in isolation tends to sound more like /buh/, which can make blending it with other letter sounds difficult for beginning readers.
- Letter sounds are more abstract and aren’t as consistent as letter names. Take for example the A in Target. In my experience, it seems more consistent to say, “Oh, I see the letter A in Target,” than “I see an /a/ (short a sound) in Target…but it doesn’t make the /a/ sound. It makes the /r/ sound.” Teacher, what are you talking about?
No matter what you believe regarding letters and letter names, research has established that children who know the names of letters learn letter-sound associations more readily than those without letter-name knowledge. So, teaching letters and sounds in your kindergarten and reviewing them in your early first grade classroom, is important in establishing one part of a strong literacy foundation.