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Why is Learning the Alphabet Important for Early Literacy Development?



Who doesn't love to hear their little one sing the alphabet with "elemenop" or LMNOP? They love the song, the way it easily rolls of their tongue and they feel so very proud of this accomplishment.  They are reciting the alphabet in song because they love the sound of it. How about A says /a/, A says /a/. Ever letter has a sound and A says /a/.  This, my friends, is the beginning of Phonics, simply put is words are made of of letters and letters and combination of letters represent sounds. 

I remember years ago when I first started teaching, ”Whole Language” was all the rage.  Whole language is a method of teaching and writing which focuses on whole word phrases through repetitive reading of passages learning words solely in context instead of phonics exercises, worksheets and the like.  

Although I believe it is important to have all ideas in your reading toolbox, over my 34 years of teaching, I recognize and feel that phonics and all of its components should be the focal point of learning to read. 

However, sight words do have their place in learning to read as well and should be taught because not all words can be deciphered through phonics alone  Some children or maybe many children need a combination of foundational skills to read.  

That being said let's take a look at learning the letters of the alphabet and a bit more



Why learn the alphabet? 

๐ŸŽThe alphabet is the foundation or building block to reading, writing and spelling.  It is important for each child to recognize and name all the letters and combination of letters in and out of order and also the sounds associated with them in order to be successful with literacy.

๐ŸŽLearning the alphabet is the basis of spoken language, which gives early learners the benefit 
of understanding how letters, combinations and patterns of letters and words are pronounced.  

๐ŸŽIt allows us to think in our language and spell words (without a spellcheck). 

๐ŸŽ It is also important for early learners to know the symbols or ways we write the letters. or combinations of letters or graphemes that represent sounds.  A combination of 1,2,3,or 4 graphemes can represent a phoneme or sound. For example: 1 letter p, 2 letters ch, 3 letters tch, 4 letters ough.  So in the word; m-a-t-c-h, there are 5 letters and 3 graphemes; m-a-tch.

Why is it important to know the letters and sounds of the alphabet?

๐ŸŽWhen children begin to recognize the letters and understand their given sounds, they receive the foundation or emergent skills to read.  

๐ŸŽRecognizing letters, sounds and combinations of letters and sounds, is a skill that is needed to read unfamiliar words independently. 

๐ŸŽHaving letter-sound knowledge will allow children to make the link between the unfamiliar printed words to their spoken language knowledge.




Why is letter-sound knowledge important?

๐ŸŽLetter-sound knowledge (also called 'graphemic knowledge as mentioned above) helps students to apply their understanding of written language and learn new words independently as well as help them decode unfamiliar words. 

If you are thinking...what?  YES! it can be very confusing, but it is SO important to understand these basics if you are teaching early learners to read.




These worksheets allow young learners to hear that the letter Aa can say /a/ as you hear in apple OR /a/ as in apron.  The second worksheet shows there is more than one way to write an a.  This is important because many books and worksheets may use different fonts to represent the letter Aa.




With these types of phonics activities, early learners are listening for the sound of the letter Aa and finding pictures that begin with that sound.  They are learning that these pictures begin with different sounds and they need to decide which pictures start with the /a/ sound.  Their little brains are starting to connect sounds to letters and learn graphemes that represent the sounds they hear. 



Why Phonics?  

๐ŸŽPhonics instruction teaches children how to decode or apply their understanding of letter-sound relationships, which includes knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. 


๐ŸŽIf a child understands the relationships between print and the sounds the print or letters produce, children will gain the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before. 


So..... 


๐ŸŽChildren need to learn the alphabet and the corresponding sounds to learn how to read and decode words, spell and understand spoken and written language. 

๐ŸŽLearning the letters of the alphabet helps to form the foundation of language and communication throughout our life.

If you need a comprehensive resource to support your early learners with letter recognition, letter sequencing and learning the individual sounds each letter produces, this alphabet resource will be your go to and keep your students learning until they feel proud.  The sheets can be differentiated in that you can assign different pages to different learners depending on their levels.

 
An original poem for each letter, which reinforces letter recognition and the sound the letter makes. This poem can be used to introduce the letter for the week.  

Here is how I would use it:

On Day One: Introduce the letter by writing it on the board or demonstrating with a large letter flashcard.

Read the poem through once with students following along (you can put it up on the whiteboard/smartboard, share through zoom on your board or have students follow along with the poem/chant in hand.

When you get to the formation of the letter , "Sky Write" the letter so they can see you form it.

Read the chant a second time and after you read each phrase, have your students echo read...you say...they say it.  When you ge to the letter formation have your students "Sky Write" the letter. I have the kiddos pretend red ink is flowing out. As you say how to form the letter have the students do it with you.

Read the chant a third time chorally with the students (everyone reading it together)!

Then have your students say the names of the pictures emphasizing the beginning sound.  bbbb at for bat. Remember it is not "bu"; it is /b/

On Day Two:  You can chose to reread the chant or have small groups or even individuals read the chant with your support.  At this time you can use the letter recognition pages in any order that works for your students depending on their level or individual levels.  For those who are a bit stronger, you can assign the Mystery Picture, while others can sort lowercase and uppercase letters. I would simply assign one or two pages for independent work, centers or stations for the day. If you would rather put all the pages in a book and assign it page by page, that works as well.


Day Three and Four:  Simply repeat day two using the same sequence as above. By now you may begin to see those students who may be ready for more difficult activities and you can differentiate as needed by assigning different pages to different students as needed.

On Day Five: Read chorally and have students make the headbands to wear home.  I might also have the students go on a classroom hunt to find the letter Aa around the room and spot objects in the room that begin with the sound.  This would be a fun way to end the week with each letter you learn!  There is also a crown for learning all of the letters!


A train puzzle to reinforce letter sequencing and worksheets for sequencing letters and sounds of letters are also included at the end of the resource to add as needed for students.

             

                  
                                     

Don't ever stop reading aloud to children as listening to and interacting with stories is so important in learning to read.  It is a combination of many philosophies and ideas that support children to become strong readers...maybe it is rocket science.


Stay tuned for more ideas to support learners with using phonics to spell, read, write and other fun ideas to get students motivated to learn coming soon!





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A Wintery Mix of Snow-Themed Ideas and Activities for Home and School


With a Wintery Mix Coming Our Way, I'm ready to talk SNOW!


Do I love snow?  Not really...BUT...I absolutely do LOVE the first snowfall, which we are supposedly getting on Monday!! I love that snowed in feeling...looking out the window and catching a glimpse of the early morning sun encouraging the snow to sparkle and glisten like tiny diamonds all around.... the white snow dust that swirls across the landscape as the wind crackles!  YES! That part I LOVE!

There's one more...there is one thing that really excites me and that is perceiving the snow through the eyes of a child...the excitement and squeals of the snow falling.  Everyone running to the classroom windows to see the tiny bits of snow falling down from the clouds...that's what it is all about...they simply LOVE the snow!

So...Let's Talk SNOW...snow resources and activities to ignite that learning. 



⛄ Here's a Wintery Mix of Snow-Themed Ideas and Activities: 

⛄ Any Story written by Caralyn Buehner; especially her snowman series is worth reading to ignite your students' imagination and creativity!  My all time favorite is Snowmen at Night.


Everytime I read this story, I think of another idea of snowmen might just do at night and the ideas that students share amazes me everytime!

If you are looking for a way for your primary students to write creatively, this definitely fits the bill.

You can take a look at the complete resource here and see what you think!   


Here is what is included:  

⛄3 different sized circles to trace and cut to make a snowman. These can be used as tracers or simply run them off onto card stock, cut and glue. 


Various templates for hats, shirts, a tie, and bow 


⛄2 easy writing frames.


⛄1 longer writing frame for stronger writers with handwriting lines. 

⛄1 longer writing frame for stronger writers with only lines for writing. 


⛄1 planning sheet for jotting down ideas. 


⛄ 
Beginning Middle and End frames for easier writing or just simply writing what the snowman may do for a rough draft and then writing a good copy to display. 

⛄I then add lots of beads, scraps, tissue, shape stickers, and all kinds of craft media materials to assist creativity. 


⛄An idea with an outline of directions for a lesson. 


⛄Sample craft. 


 ⛄  Want a Digital version of Snowmen at Night created for Google Slides™?  Simply click and add your name to my email list to receive this SNOWY Resource FREE!  


Ummmm...if you would rather pay for it, no worries, click here!

  

⛄ Have Some Fun with Snow Dough!


⛄  All kids love snow or at least most of them do...

If they have ever played in snow, they will remember the cold icy feeling of making a snowman, snow angel or snowball.

You can make snow dough with only 2 ingredients...YES...I did say 2.  Baking soda and water.  All you need is one cup of Baking soda and 1/4 cup of water and you will bring that cold snow right into your classroom.  

Here are a few ideas to use SNOW DOUGH in your classroom:


⛄Make it and simply let your kiddos play with it...this "snow" feels cold, which makes it even "cooler" to manipulate.  This is great for sensory needs and you can talk a little about Science!


⛄Create a snowman. Name the snowman and use a frame from the packet above or your own frame to write a story about your snowman.


Create a snow scene by adding small trucks, people, cars, houses etc.  Maybe even create a cooperative town!



Have you tried writing sight words in the SNOW?  


We have...this is with a mat underneath, but if you know it will be snowing, get out there and have some fun with your sight words...if you are a homeschooler...what a fun way to learn your words!!! Even in school, walk outside and grab a tray of snow and get writing!

 


    ⛄What about Some Fun and Easy Science Experiments for Home or School?

                                                   These fun experiments from igamemom are perfect!
     

        




    ⛄ You might also enjoy these ideas to make a snowy day a FUN DAY!   













    ⛄ Snowy Winter Station and Center Activities are Always a Great Idea


    I  love creating centers/stations that fit the seasons and that students can rotate through in a week or two.
    It gives me a chance to meet with Guided reading Groups or work one on one with students to meet individual needs of all students. Chatting about my ELA Centers/Stations is for another post, but if you are interested in some activities with a snowy theme, here are some that I used with much success!  It even includes a Reader's theater!




    I know things are a bit different this year,but I hope these ideas can be used somehow, some way with your students this year whether you are at school, homeschooling or virtual!

    If not...you can always save them until next year!

    I hope these ideas bring a little "SNOW"shine your way!   Thanks for stopping by!






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    100th Day of School Ideas for Home and School


    If you celebrate or want to celebrate the 100th Day of School, you will want to take a look at this post before you start to plan. It mentions some great ideas to use with your primary students. Don't wait too long...it will be here before you know it!

    I remember it so clearly...all the classes would line up in the hallway anticipating what was yet to come...jumping with excitement, whispering and bouncing and waiting impatiently for the Kindergarten 100th Day Celebration.

    My first graders would fall into a trance and chit chat about when they, too, had marched the halls to celebrate the 100th Day of School...and then...my firsties would hear a faint beat and slight echo of the music filling the halls...there would be more tapping feet, small jumps, giggles and excitement and they knew the parade was about to emerge at the end of OUR hallway!

    They stared intensely at the end of the hall and their whispers were focused on reminiscing about their 100th Day projects and what they did and how excited they felt!

    Now, they were big first graders and although we celebrated the 100th Day of School in first grade, somehow it was not the same...definitely not the same as Kindergarten, but tons of fun none the less!


    YES...it was always a day to remember in the halls of our school!

    I am thinking no mater what grade you teach, children love to celebrate the 100th Day of School.

    So, I thought it might be fun to share some tried and true ideas and activities to have a "FUN"tastic 100th Day of School with your kiddos.  Now...most of these ideas and activities were used in first and second grade, but I know how creative teachers are!

    I know you can adapt these ideas for other primary or even upper elementary! 


    ๐ŸŒŸ Dress up for the Occasion:  

    On the 100th Dy of school it is a fun idea to dress up and act 100 years old...however you perceive that to be.  You can also have your students dress for the occasion.  I can tell you from experience that your class will LOVE it!      

    The last year of my career, we performed our roles so realistically that we appeared at a staff coffee in out costumes and spoke like we were at least 100 years old...asking our colleagues to repeat phrases etc. that we had everyone in an uproar...even our administration came to join in on the fun!  It was one of those great moments!

    ๐ŸŒŸ  Use some Resources Created for the 100th Day of School:

    I am sure you are already aware that Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) has a tremendous amount of resources that can be used to celebrate this special day!

    If you are looking for something easy and free for your preschoolers, Kinders or Firsties, this
    Free 100th Day Crown and Certificate will ensure your kiddos know that they are 100 Days Smarter!














    Another quick and easy resource is Let's Celebrate the 100th Day of School
    Here is what is included in this resource:

    ★ 100th Day Fun Mystery message Sheet.       

    ★ What Can you do in 100 Seconds Worksheet, which includes estimating and predicting.

    ★ 3 Writing Frames….If I had $100: I would love 100…and When I am 100 years Old I will…Plus another describing what it will be like to be 100 years old and a picture.

    ★ I can Write 100 Words.

    ★ I can read 100 Words based on the first 100 Fry Sight Words.

    ★ A worksheet to circle names for 100 and answer sheet.

    ★ An Award to give out for the day that states: You are 100 Days Smarter.


    Simply search 100th Day of School on Tpt and you will find a plethora of resources available for your grade level.

    ๐ŸŒŸ  Assign fun 100th Day Activities for Homework to Share in School:


    ๐ŸŒŸ  Create Some Fun Edtitable Snacks to Celebrate:

    There are so many sweet snacks out there, but I know my school district and others are trying to promote more healthy options...so ...with that in mind, I really like these snack ideas to celebrate!!

    ๐ŸŒŸ  Use a Fun "Old Age" app on your phone to make everyone look 100 Years old!

    I would always take a photo of each student, print them out, let them chat about how funny they look and then have them write about what it would be like to be 100 years old using this page from my resource above. Add the photo to the writing and use this as a bulletin board or hang outside the classroom.

    Here is a photo taken using the "Old Age" app on my iphone:
    UMMMMMM...I am not sure I want to post this...I think I better get a Botox treatment or maybe a few 100!

     I always enjoyed reading these frames.
    One child one year filled it in like this:

    My name is Grandpa Clark.
    I am 100 years old. I have chipped, yellow teeth and white hair.  I feel tired because I take naps all day long.
    I remember when I was a child I used to love to run.
    Now I just sit.

    I hope you have a great time celebrating 100th Day of School and perhaps you might be able to incorporate some of these ideas!!


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    7 Ways to Create a Relaxed Classroom Enviroinment

    In today"s Pandemic filled life, it is harder than ever to keep our home life calm. and "normal"...so just imagine how teachers must feel with all the uncertainty surrounding getting kids back in school. Can you imagine teaching in school with some of your students while others are synchronously learning at home and then switching so that other half is in your classroom or maybe you are teaching virtually and don't have that scenario ,but rather other difficulties and a bit of anxiety to face... I am feeling stressed just thinking about it and I am a retired teacher!

    Now...just imagine that these students have not been in a classroom environment for about 6 months!!!  Now...well...let's just say many students may have forgotten many or ALL of the classroom routines and have been away from the classroom structure for a long time...longer than anyone expected!. 


    So where am I going with this?  Well, as teachers, we must realize what our families and little ones are up against in this fast-paced world so that when they come to school or even if you are teaching virtually, they feel safe, calm and can feel like they are in a world that is nurturing and relaxed. A world were they do not have to feel stressed or overwhelmed, but can be their best selves.

    So here are a few tips that you can put into place immediately that will give your kiddos a relaxed haven. 



    So, try some of these tips...oh and did I mention that these are tried and true...I have used these for over 25+ years in my classroom. 



        As Students come into the classroom, greet them at the door to make them feel special and 
         relaxed. If children feel good about themselves, they will be calmer and ready to learn.



    2.  Play soft classical music.  You will be surprised at the calmness it brings and how parents
         notice this calming music, which they always had a positive comment to share about the music
         playing as the children entered the classroom. I always enjoyed hearing children humming the
         music as they unpacked and got ready for the day! They were relaxed and learning about music
         and what feelings it evoked.Some classical musicians who have calming genres are:
         Brahms, Wagner, Pachelbel, Handel, Chopin and Bach to name a few, but I would suggest
         listening to the works before just hitting "play." Here is a site that has some calming classical
         pieces you can check out!  Relaxing Music for your Classroom This is a sample of music that
         promotes calm. It plays a medley of different classical composers and can be set on your
         computer.
      


    3.  Many teachers give their students morning work to complete, which is fine.  However what I have
         done over the years is given students a "soft landing" time. During this time, the kiddos can chat
         calmly, buddy read, read to self, work on an activity that needs to be finished, pick a morning
         work sheet to complete, buddy write or complete their classroom job, which are jobs that helped
         our classroom be organized (attendance, calendar, lunch count etc.).




    4.  Our schedule was not very conducive to calmness as within 15 minutes of arrival time,
         our special teachers were in our classrooms ready to start their lesson. 
         As a result, we had to have our Morning Meeting after special time. In order to address this issue      and create a calmness before the kiddos jumped into working with the special teachers, we would        gather on the rug and "Pass a Smile." This only took a few minutes and supported a calm feeling
         before the children got to work.


    5.  Add a daily "Quiet Time" to your schedule. Schedule 5-10 minutes after your recess or at a time
         you notice your class seems to need a break. During this time the children listen to calm music
         and can do any activity within your rule expectations independently and alone.  Some ideas are:          Relax and listen to the music, read, color, draw, write, catch up on work, anything that is quiet
          and can be completed alone.  This time is a time to relax and refocus for the rest of the day


    6.  Add brain breaks into your day to support children to refocus and be relaxed and ready to move        on with their day. Some ideas for Brain Breaks can be found at:

    Brain Breaks TpT .The ideas in this resource are ones I have used through the years before the buzzword Brain Breaks was popular!


    Here is another Brain Break Idea that can be used virtually and is created for Google Slides™


    Here are a few Brain Break Quickies that are not in the above link and can be found below:

    1. Come to circle and share what you liked about the day so far.

    2. Share which station or center you felt was the hardest easiest and why.(these can be done whole group or turn and share etc).

    3. Share your plan for tomorrow when you are working: what would you do differently, what worked, what didn’t work, what will you change? etc.

    4. Who did you work with today and what did you do?

    5. What is your high point of the day so far. Do you have any low points? Explain your thinking.

    6. Sky writing words in the sky is always a good break.

    7. Snack and a drink will work, too.

    8. Partner write or draw on your partners back and see if you can guess what your partner drew.

    9. Run, skip, hop in place.

    10. Turn and talk to your partner about the day in a silly voice or the teacher can dictate the voice…mouse voice, baby voice, monster voice etc.

    11. Dance Party to favorite music…everybody dance!



    Just had to add one more... Kids Yoga: ABC's of Yoga with Theresa Power This video is great because Theresa introduces yoga through easy standing poses which can easily be completed at home or school. She has a soothing voice and it is only a 5 minute video!




    I hope you find these ideas helpful They are ALL tried and true and have helped hundreds of children stay calm in our hectic world. 

    I will leave you with this one thought: During those calm and quiet moments we give ourselves time to think and understand; come up with ideas to inspire others; become our best selves and are ready to learn what the world has to offer.

    Enjoy the rest of your year!





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    Fun Days to Celebrate in October at Home and in School



    We all know a few days in October that are fun to celebrate in our classrooms. Obviously, if you are a primary teacher, you can find lots of days to celebrate in many ways. With Common Core coming our way, it is a bit more difficult to bring fun activities in to our classrooms. BUT...I think and I am sure you will agree that there are a plethora of ways to have fun with Common Core and there are definitely some Special Days to celebrate in October besides Halloween...BUT we have to include Halloween for October or our kiddos will be sooooooo upset!

    Sooooooo what days can be celebrated in school or at home during October? 


    Here are some ideas and activities for Special days to celebrate in October and still have a bit of fun learning in your classroom:

    ๐ŸŽƒ World Smile Day is October 2nd!

    What a great way to start the month of October. Tell children to bring their smiles to school or virtually to class that day and try a few of these activities to brighten their DAY!

    Partner children 6 feet a part of course and see who can get the other to smile...but if in person, you can only tell by their eyes.

    Have a joke telling chat.  With this kids simply tell jokes to make each other laugh!

    If virtual these can be done in break out rooms.

    ๐ŸŽƒ Name your Car Day, Too...Say What?  

    Now this is also another fun day to write about and have some fun with at home or at school.

    At home, you might want to give your car a name...my granddaughter named my car "Vanilla Caramel Brownie" because it is white with tan interior and my perfume smells like vanilla sugar. and Brownie because it is not always the cleanest car on the road! You can have a lot of fun with this one and also get a few laughs or smiles since they are both celebrated on october 2nd!

    ๐ŸŽƒ Did you know that October 4th is Taco Day?  




    Here is a cute book to celebrate tasty taco treats.


    • Before reading the story, you can access prior knowledge to find out what your students know about tacos, what their favorite taco is and maybe where they like to buy or eat their tacos.
    • During reading stop every so often to have your students think, pair, share as you ask questions, have students make predictions or inferences as well as answer some questions about the text. Here is a fun interactive Reading Resource with ideas for use that you might want to use for shared reading for this text or any text!









    ๐ŸŽƒHow about Cake Decorating DAY? 

    You can give each child a writing frame, which I have links to at the bottom of this post and have them decorate a cake and then write about it.

    If they have a picture of a favorite birthday cake, have them share it during sharing time or reserve a few minutes to have children share or tell about their favorite birthday cake of all time!



    christopher Columbus was an explorer and most children LOVE to explore anything and everything.  This craft is super fun to talk about explorers๐ŸŽƒ We all know That Columbus Day has led to some controversy surrounding it and about celebrating this day, but this craft can simply focus on Exploration and if you were an explorer what would you want to explore

    Here are a few Ideas to Celebrate Exploration:

    Here is a way to bring out the Explorer in your students.

    What would you explore and why?  Then...turn them into explorers.  

    Be an Explorer















    ๐ŸŽƒ Another Fun Day to celebrate is PUMPKIN DAY.


    Did you know that National Pumpkin Day is October 26th? 


    Let's take a look at a few ideas for Pumpkin Day which is celebrated right before Halloween...perfect Timing!

    This pumpkin resource includes everything you need to celebrate pumpkins from facts to opinions, measuring, graphing and more.  check it out Right here

    Need some Great Books to go along with Pumpkins? 

    here are 4 of my faves:  

    1.  How Many Seeds in a Pumpkins works fabulous with Pumpkin "Fun"tivities. Read it before you do the measuring activities. it is super for making predictions and works great with the interavtive props and ideas!

    2.  Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie is great text to use to learn about how pumpkins grow and for facts and opinions about pumpkins.

     
    3.  The Biggest Pumpkin Ever is another great story that is fun to use as a shared reading and the kiddos LOVE it!

    4. My all time favorite book is the The Little Woman who wasn't Afraid of Anything.


    I used this as an interactive shared reading with props and you could hear a pin drop as we shared the story and acted out the parts with  real items! 












    Here is a link for Ideas to go along with this book!
    Let's Get Interactive!


    ๐ŸŽƒ If you Don't Like Pumpkins, you Can Always Celebrate Cupcake Day on the 26th or Both Days and Make Pumpkin Cupcakes!

    YES! You read that right...CUPCAKE DAY!  Kids can draw cupcakes or make them out of construction paper and share about their favorite cupcake of all time!

    Click on the picture to get this Dollar Deal to help you celebrate and use these 5 fun writing prompts! 





    ๐ŸŽƒ And Let's Not Forget Halloween    


    Here are some tried and true Halloween Resources
    Take a look and see if these might be something you want to try out this year!






    Well...there you have it! Some Special Days to Celebrate in October...NEXT UP Some fun days to celebrate in November!

    Have a great October!

    Make this October the BEST EVER!

    Keep Smiling...the BEST is yet to Come!












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