I have been working diligently to teach letters and sounds to Kindergarteners. It is amazing how quickly children at this young age can learn. However, as an Interventionist, I continue to seek meaningful ways to help struggling students learn these beginning concepts. I have found several manipulatives to help my struggling students learn letters and sounds efficiently.
1. Letter Arcs– This is an effective tool for teaching letter/sound recognition. Many engaging letter arc ideas can be found at this helpful website as well: http://alphabetmats.com/activities.html
2. Letter Sorts– This is a great way to teach similarities and differences among letters/sounds. (I use a Venn diagram to support my visual learners.) These are a few ways students can sort letters:
Letters with circles vs. No circles
Letters with tails vs. No tails
Letters with dots vs. No dots
Tall letters vs. short letters
Letters with slant lines vs. No slant lines
Letters with curves vs. No curves
Uppercase letters vs. Lowercase letters
3. Name Puzzles– Use construction paper to write down then cut-up a student’s name. Help the student put their name together. Instead of cutting up individual letters within a student name, try cutting names up by syllable or onset & rime. These are a few additional ways to use Name Puzzles:
Have students tell you the letters/sounds in their name
Use Math to count the number of letters in a name
Point to a letter and ask the letter name
Say the letters in the name forward/backwards
Trace and say each letter with a finger
4. Rainbow Writing– I like to use plain white paper to write the student’s name. Then I place this paper in a sheet protector (I find reasonable sheet protectors at Walmart). Encourage students to use colored dry erase markers to write over their name. My students enjoy this activity very much!!
5. Alphabet Books– Use alphabet cards with pictures to encourage students to name the capital letter, say the lowercase letter sound, and name the picture. Teach letters out of order to help students problem solve instead of relying on the “alphabet song”. Possible examples include the following:
“M, /m/, moon”
“A, /a/, apple”
“P, /p/, pig”
6. Sound Trinkets– I have a collection of trinkets that begin with each letter of the alphabet. After several shared experiences, I encourage individual students to sort these trinkets on a Venn Diagram mat according to the first sound they hear.
7. Sand Tray– I use a small cookie sheet filled with colorful sand for students to practice writing the letters of the alphabet. I prefer using the Fountas & Pinnell letter formation directions to teach my students. These verbal directions are simple for young students and easily remembered!