Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Favorite Things to Do With Letters 

I am working with a few students who are struggling to learn the letters of the alphabet. I decided to pull together some of my favorite alphabet activities to use with them this week and decided to share them in this post today.  If you have a favorite not listed, I would love to hear from you! 


Letter Bag

1.  Give each student a plastic baggie of the letters that they know each week add a few new letters to the baggie. When meeting with the child, begin the lesson by sorting the letters that they know and slowly add new ones. Start from the student’s strengths

Magnetic Letters

2.  Have the student sort by color, shape, size. Students can match uppercase and lowercase. Using the name chart, have the student make and break friends names. It is so important that kids are touching magnetic letters and feeling their shape.

Alphabet Chart 

3.  Create a classroom alphabet chart.  Begin with a blank alphabet box with just the letters but no pictures. Have the student figure out what pictures go with what letters. You could make a ritual of creating alphabet charts for different seasons. I love the idea of using student work rather than clipart. When students take part in the project, it brings more meaning. The class could make the illustrations and then write a word to go with the pictures. You could also use that chart for shared reading too...yea!!

Become An Expert Chart Reader

4.  Have students read the alphabet chart in playful ways. The student could skip a letter, read the consonants, read the letters in their name while pointing. They could sing the letters or whisper them. I would also recommend using different alphabet charts. In my building, we teach Fundations and sometimes the students don’t carry over what they have learned about letters to other charts. Read the alphabet song template here. You can see how this will benefit students when reading.

Name Chart

5.  Use a name chart all the time, this is a helpful tool for learning about letters, sounds, and words. The name chart should be at the meeting area and referred to often during interactive writing and shared reading. Make small name charts for students. Play I SPY with the name chart. Have different students come up to the easel and find letters.

 Matching Letters

 6. Have students match letters to pictures. I love Joelle from a Place Called Kindergarten beginning sound match up you can find it here.

 Elmo Letters

7.  Play with letters on the Elmo moving them apart and putting letters together. This is a gentle introduction to building words. 

 Elkonin Boxes

8.  Teach students about Elkonin or sound boxes. This activity develops phonemic awareness as well as letter-name knowledge, letter-sound knowledge, and the ability to decode sequentially letter-by-letter. If the child learned the word bed, you would ask the student to listen for the sounds in the word bed, and, as the say the word, they would push a penny in the box for every sound they say(slowly) and hear. Once students are familiar with this activity, you could have them write a letter in each box for the sound they hear. It is important to select words from poems and books students are familiar with. Reading Rocket has a great resource here.

 Alphabet Books and Poems

9.  Read and make alphabet books all the time, especially if you have lots of students struggling with learning their letters. Have your students read poems and find the letters they are working on in the poem. Nellie Edge has the best poems around!


10.  Play Wordo with letters. This is like bingo.

11.  I got a great idea from a book called Teaching Reading in Kindergarten. You can see below you start the game by putting lines on the board (like hangman). The student's had to guess letters and eventually who's name it could be. Once we figured out the name we would see if the letters were misbehaving in that name. You can see below which letters were misbehaving. My class loved this game. 

We did this once a week, and the student would then be the Special Person
Lastly, while teaching letters, make sure you are assessing the student. If something is not working, change it up! Different students respond to different things.

Joyfully yours in matching capital M to lowercase m,



  1. I love Elkonin Boxes. Currently, a grandmother volunteer is using them with many of my writers who are still working on hearing more sounds in words.

  2. Tammy,
    They are the best to use, some kids REALLY need it. I know when I first started teaching I was scared of using them! Melissa

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