In primary land, as I like to call it, we stay knee-deep in phonological awareness as well as letters and sounds. I’ve been in this education game for years now, and I’m always trying to come up with new ways to engage students in letters and sounds. It never hurts to have as many ideas as you can when it comes to promoting letter recognition! I’ve come across a few activities that have been exciting for my students, and I want to share them with you!
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1. Light Table/Panel
I’ve wanted a light table in my classroom for years, but I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate it into our center time. The first issue is that they’re huge! I just could not justify using so much space for something that I may or may not decide to use the entire school year. Then, I came across the answer…..a light panel! The minute I saw it, I knew that I had to have it! It’s flat and lightweight, and I can easily move it if I need to.
I grabbed a set of the translucent letter construction activity set that is perfect for the light panel. The engagement is definitely high for this center! As a side note, I also grabbed the number construction activity set and translucent shapes so that I could use it during other parts of the day as well!
2. ABC Pattern Blocks
Over my teaching career I’ve had a love-hate relationship with pattern blocks. All students love to work with the blocks, but they were so loud! Of course, the louder they could make them, the better! I’ll let you in on my secret though……foam pattern blocks. They are definitely a game changer. I love the ABC pattern block mats because not only do students get to build the letter, but they also get to work on letter formation, and the sound that the letter makes. This resource includes capital and lowercase letters for a total of 52 mats. I like to begin the year with capital letters, then take them away for a bit, then bring out the lowercase letters when I bring them back out.
3. L & S Boom Card Bundle
I am a huge fan of all things hands-on, especially fine motor activities. When I do introduce technology, I like to introduce it down the road, not at the beginning of the school year. In kindergarten I learned the hard way that students need something that they can easily manipulate, and something that they can start over if necessary. I have found that Boom Cards fit the bill. They are self-grading and students receive immediate feedback. I can even include directions that will be read to them.
There’s this idea that letters and sounds only belong to the beginning of the school year. Experience has shown that there are students who will need to work on letters and sounds for the entire year. This bundle provides room for just that. It allows students to have multiple ways to practice on letters and sounds without doing the same activity again and again.
4. Visual Discrimination
When I finally had my own classroom, I was so focused on letter recognition. The quicker they could name the letters, the better. It wasn’t until later on I realized that being able to identify the letters started with students being able to recognize the characteristics of each individual letter.
If they can’t visually discriminate between letters, then they won’t be able to identify them by name. I begin literacy centers with visual discrimination in two places. The first is our sensory table whenever that is introduced. If I haven’t introduced it yet, I’ll place it in a pocket chart. The other activity is visual discrimination with Boom Cards.
5. Magnetic Center
There’s something about colorful magnetic letters that make the kiddos happy. The center also gives them encouragement as it is one that they can truly do on their own. It has everything that you need to keep them engaged in what I like to consider a word work station. As students progress, it is also an easy center to differentiate. You can begin to include beginning, middle and ending sounds as well as CVC words. This can be done while continuing to include letter recognition for the students that need it.
Learning activities do not have to be complicated. Matter of fact, the less complicated the better. Simple activities that promote letter recognition will take your students further than activities that have students focusing more on procedures and rules. If you’re looking to upgrade a few of your activities, just take a closer look at what you’re already doing and tweak it.
If you’re looking to incorporate a few of the mentioned activities into your classroom, you can find the ABC pattern block mats here and the Letters and Sounds Boom Card bundle here. If you’re looking to include more print awareness activities in your classroom, you can grab 10 days of lesson plans for free right here!