When you say letter recognition, it’s almost synonymous with saying kindergarten! It is one of the pillars of literacy in the primary grades, along with phonological awareness. As this is something that we tend to cover the entire year, it’s always great to take a look at your practice and see where you can switch things up, or where you can extract more learning.
1. Read Alouds & Shared Reading
Raise your hand if you love a good read-aloud! Most of the time we use them to introduce and review different comprehension skills and strategies, but they have other uses as well! Read alouds are the most important activity that you can do with students to build their knowledge about literacy concepts that are necessary for reading. During this experience, which can be in whole or small group, you can focus on specific letters (capital or lowercase), making sure to include books that focus on the alphabet or certain letters. This is why I am always on the hunt for ABC books!
Shared reading provides a time where reading is interactive. Students will join in or ‘share’ in
the reading of the book. This means that students are actively participating in the literacy experience, rather than being a passive learner. It’s almost like the best of both worlds, combining parts of guided reading along with read-aloud strategies. During this time, not only will the teacher model reading with fluency and using expression as they read, they will also practice word and comprehension strategies. What I love about shared reading is that it provides students with a positive literacy experience no matter the grade level.
2. Morning Message
Morning message is something that lends itself to multiple uses. Oh, I could talk about it forever! Let’s stick to letter recognition right now! The morning message can be written beforehand, or it can be written with the students for an interactive writing activity. If your message happens to be written with your students, then not only are you modeling the writing process, but you have a chance to point out specific letters as you write. Students also have a chance to provide letters, maybe even words that can be added to the morning message.
3. Name Sort
I love any type of sort! For this activity, create letter headers for students to sort to. Next, write every student’s name on a card, or section of a sentence strip. The names will be sorted to the correct letter. As an extra layer, separate name strips may be created, with each name being cut up letter by letter. Students can then spell names, and/or match the letters to the name cards that are being sorted.
4. Tactile Letters
Now I know, tactile letters seem like a cute way to review the alphabet, but it is much more than that! When students get to make their own tactile letters or have access to tactile letters, it helps to emphasize the shape of each letter and provides a visual representation of the letter. The sky is the limit when it comes to materials for tactile letters. Definitely use what you already have in your classroom! Don’t worry about repeating materials, your little ones will love it! You’ll also reach your students who learn through different modes of instruction.
5. Guess the Letter
This is more of a group game! It provides practice for letter recognition and handwriting all at the same time. The first thing that you would do is to divide your class into smaller groups, and they will sit on the floor in circles. Place a deck of letter cards in the middle (you can grab a set at your local dollar spot), and have a student to ask what letter is it. Students will name the letter and also print it onto whiteboards. If you have students who are struggling with capital or lowercase letters, you can sort out the letters that you don’t need.
It is important that we provide students with intentional exposure to print in different contexts, such as books, charts, labels, etc. As you introduce and review letters, be sure to include letters that are known and unknown, so that students all have some measure of success! Remember, consistency is important in helping students to develop letter recognition!
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