During our first two months of school, we are learning how to write our name in new and creative ways!
To help with this, I have created Name Books, which enable your little one to recognize and spell their name.
Although we are still working on them, here is a glimpse into some of what we are doing!
Phonological awareness activities are activities that increase children’s awareness of the sounds of language.
These activities include playing games and listening to stories, poems, and songs that involve rhyme, alliteration, sound matching, and emergent writing.
Emergent writing encourages children to emergent forms of writing, such as scribble writing, random letter strings, and invented spelling.
To enhance your children’s phonological awareness of the letter A (which we learned about Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of last week), we participated in a variety of activities that supported this.
We inititally used tweezers and paper ants to create the letter A, and then we used playdoh to make the letter A.
In addition to strengthening phonological awareness, these activities also supported their fine motor skills.
These days, curriculum often recommends using partner chats, turn-and-talk, and other one-on-one conversation strategies to help students reflect on and deepen their learning. Although it may seem like a simple thing, chatting with a partner involves a complex set of skills that many children do not come to school with: listening and speaking in turn, staying on topic, and not monopolizing the conversation, to name just a few.
Conversation skills are important for academic and social learning at all ages. The school day is full of conversations—we talk with each other in large group gatherings, at work and choice times, and of course during snack, recess, and lunch. Children who are not skilled in this arena may struggle, academically and socially. That’s why it’s important to teach conversation skills explicitly. I’ve found that taking time to teach first grade students how to chat with a partner has had striking benefits—for individual students, and for our classroom community.
For this activity, we used circle time to learn about the letter W with a partner! Using lightning bolts made out of foam, we created our letters. Before starting, your little ones were informed that the letter W is made up of a series of different shaped lines. These lines attach to form W! With their partners, they attached these “lightning bolts” together to form a W!
Pre-writing activities are a great way to build essential, foundational fine motor skills.
These skills include hand strength, directional movement patterns, and effective hand position, which will then facilitate making lines, letters, and shapes.
All development comes in predictable stages. Before a child can write, he must have the prerequisite fine motor skills necessary to use his wrist and hands properly and effectively.
For this activity, we used magnets to continue our learning of the letter M. Students used magnets that they placed onto a metal tray in the shape of an M.
The tactile experience (touching the letter with your finger) is important for building a memory trace. This enables students to acquaint the name of each letter with a visual representation for the letter sound. For a child who is struggling with their letters, the sooner they can integrate the sound of the letter with what it looks like, the sooner their writing contains more meaning for them.
For this activity, we talked about the letter D. We discussed words that begin with this letter; words like dinosaur, dirt, dreidel, and dog that we pronounced and then broke up into their component parts. Using our fingers, we moved to the ground, where we carved (with some help from Miss Carrie) letter Ds into the dirt, and then traced them with our pointer fingers.
Early writing encompasses the manual act of producing physical marks, the meanings children attribute to these markings, and understandings about how written language works. Early writing is one of the best predictors of children’s later reading success. Specifically, early writing is part of a set of important foundational literacy skills that serve as necessary precursors to conventional reading, including developing understandings of both print and sound (i.e., phonological awareness). Print knowledge includes general understandings of how print works and the names and sounds of the alphabet. Knowledge about sound, or phonological awareness, includes the ability to attend to and manipulate sound structure of language.
These early skills work together to lay a foundation for later reading success. As children integrate their knowledge of print and sound, they begin to grasp the alphabetic principle, a critical achievement in early literacy. The alphabetic principle is the understanding that oral language is made up of smaller sounds and that letters represent those sounds in a systematic way. Children can grow in their understanding of how print and sound work together through experimenting with writing. Writing serves as a type of laboratory, in which even very young children are actively creating and testing hypotheses about how writing works. The key to carry out these hypotheses is to present a variety of scenarios that enrich the writing experience. For this activity, we used markers (an easy utensil for small fingers to grasp) to create shapes. We focused on proper grasp, control, and left to write sequencing.
Music allows your little learners to acquire information naturally. It does this by presenting information as parts and wholes. A song gives students a chance to reduce the information into parts yet work with it as a whole. Learning music is an important developmental activity that may help improve the ability for preschoolers to carry out spatial-temporal tasks. Research in this area has concluded that singing even produces long-term modifications in the underlying neural circuitry of the brain. Music also benefits children’s oral communication.
They learn to be attentive listeners, which is a skill that helps their phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and overall fluency. When used in the classroom, music expands vocabulary, promotes sight words, identifies rhymes and retells stories. To help increase our understanding of the letter L, we played a musical game that required your little one to not only sing about the letter L, but recognize what it looks like, understand its function, and cooperate with their classmates with the goal of finding the L in mind.
We started with a song that included the lyrics, “Where is L, where is L? Here I am! Here I am!”. While singing this song, your little one scoured the room for hidden Ls. With the help of their classmates, they located one L, brought it to the board, and finished the second half of the song. The lyrics for this second half consist of “How are you today, L? What sound do you make, L? La la la. La la la”. Your budding vocalists enjoyed searching for their letters, and cheering their classmates on as they learned about this most exciting phoneme!
When learning about letters, it is important that preschoolers only focus on one sound at a time. The letter O, for example, has many different sounds. For this week, we chose to focus on its short vowel sound. Your child learned, initially, that this is the first letter in the word October. We then came up with other words containing the same ah sound.
The second component in this activity involved classifying letters and building a block tower. Regular blocks were affixed with a variety of letter stickers. Some contained O, while others held other letters. Your child was then encouraged to separate the Os from the rest of the letters. They then took their “O” blocks and constructed a tower. One building block of reading is learning that each letter has a corresponding sound. This doesn’t need to be dull or full of repetitive exercises. Your little scholar can have fun and learn at the same time!
It all begins with scribbles. Aside from the decorative swirls, a few letters, and perhaps even their own names, most preschoolers start school not knowing how to write. Fortunately, this does not have to be as challenging as many parents believe. From tracing the ABCs (culminating in higher level thinking skills like forming, organizing, and expressing complete thoughts), to using a pen and pencil on lined paper, writing is a learning adventure, similar to all of the other ones your child has experienced!
The key to learning how to write is to break it into small, manageable steps. To prepare your child for this most exciting endeavor, we participate in an array of “pre-writing” activities that make writing fun.
For this one in particular, we practiced writing the letter M, using shaving cream and glitter. With their paint brushes, your little one learned that all letter making starts from up to down and left to right. A paint brush is a nice introductory implement, because they are familiar, and easy to grasp. Lastly, this activity aided your budding writer in their continual mastery of the tripod grasp.