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? 

🍎The 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.

🍎Learning 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.  

🍎It allows us to think in our language and spell words (without a spellcheck). 

🍎 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?

🍎When children begin to recognize the letters and understand their given sounds, they receive the foundation or emergent skills to read.  

🍎Recognizing letters, sounds and combinations of letters and sounds, is a skill that is needed to read unfamiliar words independently. 

🍎Having 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?

🍎Letter-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?  

🍎Phonics 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. 


🍎If 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..... 


🍎Children need to learn the alphabet and the corresponding sounds to learn how to read and decode words, spell and understand spoken and written language. 

🍎Learning 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!



3


your photo name