Singing the ABC's is really just singing a song much like Jesus Loves Me or Happy Birthday. It helps - but is it enough? Children need to achieve automatic recognition of letters and then must connect the sound it makes (and distinguish the situation in spelling to know which sound the letter will make) in order to read and spell with confidence and accuracy.
So - how does that happen? When you incorporate multiple senses into each practice, it's like multiplying the reinforcement and learning. You magnify the pathway and connection created in the brain so learning is more efficient. Some children learn quickly and with secure mastery. For others, it can take 500 - 1500 times! If you practiced the alphabet with students EVERY day during the school year - that would only be 180 times.
Here are some activities you can implement to REALLY help children achieve mastery of the alphabet sequence and letter name:
- RECITE the alphabet while touching and naming each letter. You can print the alphabet on cardstock or paper and laminate it to their desk or hand out laminated alphabet strips (teachers love laminating!) when you practice. It's important to look at the letter, touch it, AND say it all at the SAME time. It really fuses it altogether.
- SET THE LETTERS IN ORDER using simple alphabet letters, like the magnets you can find for the refrigerator - from beginning to end in sequence. This means to find the letter, A, and then add B, etc. until you get to Z. Name the letters as they are placed. Once a child has mastered the uppercase letters, work on a lowercase set.
- Use KEYWORD Cards to connect the letter name with the sound it makes. Introduce the cards a few at a time and then they can be reviewed in random order as you continue to add new cards. As a teacher, you can choose the cards that match the letter introduction sequence you use with your Kindergarten curriculum. In first grade, you can present them much faster because you are reinforcing what was learned in Kindergarten. In presenting the card, you can cue the child with the letter name, then the keyword, and finally the sound. It would sound like this - a - apple /a/
Because every teacher needs access to quick resources - here's a link for durable alphabet strips and chunky letters. They are inexpensive and will really LAST!