I'm completely unhappy about it, but my feelings on the matter are completely irrelevant because I don't have a choice in the matter. I'm not even switching schools or districts or anything fun like that. For the second time in my career, I've been forced to switch grade levels. :-(
I should mention that I have taught Kindergarten before, and I enjoyed it. I know I will enjoy it now. Right now, though, I'm not excited at all. I have really come to love first grade, and I want to stay there!
As a result of moving to Kindergarten, though, I am currently in the process of changing my blog name. You may have noticed a few things have changed. So far, my blog name itself has changed, but the web address is the same. My new blog name is Growing Little Minds. I like it a whole lot! I'm also working on changing my Facebook page to match.
So I've been trying to do a few things to get ready for Kindergarten. Not much, I will admit. I have to spend some time in my classroom today, and I'm not looking forward to it one little bit. But one thing I really liked about teaching Kindergarten was teaching letters, so I'm excited about that part at least.
I have spent some time in the last few days trying to find some fun ways for my beginning of the year Kindergarteners to practice the alphabet. I'm going to share some of them with you, because you may need some fun activities for struggling students or students learning their letters for the first time!
It is very important to have an alphabet chart in your classroom for students to reference. Mine reference the alphabet chart all the time when reading and writing, particularly my struggling students. So I make sure to have a great alphabet chart (or two!) hanging in my classroom!
(These are from my "ABC Learn With Me!" bundle.)
I also like to make sure I have an alphabet chart handy at my guided reading table. I have one I made from the Phonics Dance pictures so that they can use that particular alphabet chart when they are at the guided reading table. I also send a copy of this home so they can practice at home as well.
I also use flashcards in the hallway sometimes when we are using the bathroom 300 times a day. At the beginning of the year, I would use alphabet flashcards. I have some students tell me the letter while others tell me the beginning sound or a word that begins with that letter. Later in the year, we progress onto sight words.
During literacy centers, we do a whole lot of letter and beginning sound sorts! I absolutely love doing sorts with my students. In Kindergarten, we sort by beginning and ending sounds, and medial short vowels. Eventually we move on to harder sounds. In first grade, I start out with word families, and move onto blends, digraphs, vowel teams, etc... But we do a whole lot of sorting in my classroom!
Sometimes we do card sorts.
Other times, I want the students to show their work so I can check it later, so I have them cut and glue their work onto a sorting sheet. I really like to do different kinds of sorts. Sometimes they will have 2 or 3 beginning letters and cards to sort, while other times we will have several pictures that start with one letter (like r, for example), while all the others will be various other sounds that aren't r.
I LOVE this idea I found from "I Can Teach My Child". You use a wipes container and bottlecaps from milk cartons, etc... The students can put the caps in the monster's mouth. You could have them sort upper and lowercase letters, or just name the letter as they put the cap in. I think I have a baby wipes container around here, and I know I have a ton of bottlecaps! I want to make one of these so badly!
I also love these matching activities!
This tray matching activity comes from "We Can Do All Things". I love how her daughter was able to match the letters in her hand to the letters on the tray. You could use this for upper and lowercase sorting as well.
I don't know if I would put the cupcake liners in there, simply because I think they would fall out, but I love this idea. She used beans and wrote the letters on them, but you could also use magnetic or foam letters if you want. This idea comes from "The Imagination Tree".
I also love this closepin letter match activity from "Craftulate". You could use any set of flashcards you have and some closepins with letters written on them. I would probably make those closepins cute and fancy. Maybe some washi tape or some foam letters!
I also created some fun alphabet activities that my students can use for my own classroom. I really like students to have fun when they are learning. These activities are a part of my "ABC Learn With Me" bundle.
Alphabet dominoes- students match the picture to the correct letter.
Puzzles- students find the matching picture and letter combination.
Memory- there are a few variations on how you can play this! Lower case letter/picture, upper case letter/picture, or upper case letter/lower case letter!
Clip Cards- matching the correct beginning letter to the picture. You can easily make these self-checking by adding a marker dot or sticker on the back behind the correct answer. There are 6 cards for each letter, and you can mix and match them to differentiate for your students.
I also love these alphabet interactive notebooks by my friend Jennifer Drake of Crayons, Cuties, and Common Core. They are absolutely adorable, and I can't wait to use them with my Kindergarteners. She has a freebie available for you to check them out.
There are also some great books available for teaching the alphabet! My absolute favorite is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! Kindergarteners LOVE the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom song! I have done so many fun things with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. My absolute favorite was making a "coconut tree" out of paper. It "magically" appeared in our classroom one day, with velcro dots all over it. There were also letters with velcro dots on them, and the students got to come up and put the letters on the tree. I wish I had a picture of this- but I still have the tree, so I'll just have to do it again this year!
I have so many fun Chicka Chicka Boom Boom ideas. If I am able to dig up some pictures from 7 years ago, I definitely will so I can share them with you! If not, I will just have to repeat them with my new group of Kinders.
Another great way to make sure your students know their letters is through the use of class-created anchor charts. I love to use these in my classroom! After we read and sing our letter book of the day (two days?) several times, we make a chart of words that begin with that letter. I write the word, and then draw a picture beside it so students know what it is. Since they helped to make the chart, they know the words on it! Ours are nothing fancy, and the pictures are terrible, but the kids think my drawings are amazing!
A funny story about those charts: My first year teaching, we were doing our chart for the letter H and one of my students suggested "hydraulics" for a word on the chart. Talk about a hard word to draw! I had to look it up to make sure I spelled it correctly! Kindergarteners sure do give you a run for your money!
If you are looking for some awesome activities for teaching or reviewing the alphabet, you can find my "ABC, Learn With Me" bundle in my store. There are a ton of activities to help your students solidify their letter knowledge. Use it with struggling firsties, during a whole class lesson, or with a small group of intervention or guided reading students.
It includes a beginning letter sort, clip cards, dominoes, puzzles, a memory game, and more fun games, as well as printable sorting pages and writing pages, flashcards, letter posters, mini foldable books, and more!
What is your favorite way to teach the alphabet? Also, please tell me which grade level you teach!
Also, just in case you weren't aware (somehow!), Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale... now! My entire store is 28% off, including bundles! Go get yourself stocked up for back to school and beyond!