Although the formal study of reading and writing does not occur until kindergarten, young children are capable of recognizing letters and their functions.
Providing regular opportunities to practice pre-reading skills, is essential in gaining knowledge of the alphabet and its association to how words work.
Using insta-snow and our fingers, we practiced tracing the letter S.
Throughout the week, we have been talking about different words that start with the letter S.
We have additionally been singing songs that reinforce the different sounds that S makes. Lastly, we traced these Ss, then constructed snowballs out of our insta-snow!
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!
Very early writing is indicative of unconscious, or implicit knowledge of writing conventions. As children’s knowledge of writing develops, their implicit knowledge gradually becomes more explicit knowledge that they learn to use to communicate meaning. The more children interact with print in various forms, the more likely they will develop explicit knowledge and awareness of writing conventions. Three- to four-year-old children are exploring the regularities of print. They are constructing their own understanding of print and how their representations fit with what they experience in their environment. For this activity, we discussed the different shapes that form letters. We learned that some of these shapes are round, some are pointy and some are jagged. Using paint scrapers, zig zag shaped pieces of paper, and shaving cream, we practiced our writing!
The physical health and development domain (as stated by the California Department of Education) includes three elements: gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and health status and practices. Each of these elements supports children’s overall health and physical fitness and can enhance a child’s progress in other domains. For example, gross motor skills lead to growing confidence and pride in accomplishments (social and emotional development, self-concept).
Children use their fine motor skills to experiment with writing tools and materials (literacy, early writing). Fine motor skills involve use of the small muscles found in individual body parts, especially those in the hands and feet. Children use their fine motor skills to grasp, hold, and manipulate small objects and tools. As they gain eye-hand coordination, they learn to direct the movements of their fingers, hands, and wrists to perform more complex tasks.
With access to appropriate materials and activities, children can practice and refine both their fine and gross motor skills during a variety of experiences and while performing self-help routines. To encourage this behavior we do various cutting activities, just like today’s dot and cut! We started out with four blank sheets of paper that we drew shapes on; a spiral which your little ones dotted with blue paint.
The dotting in itself is a fine motor skill because students have to aim their dots onto the spiral. Once the dots were dry, we got a scissors out to practice our cutting. Students either cut along the lines drawn or from dot to dot which ever was easier and grabbed their fancy!
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.
Motor skills are so important to work on with your little ones. Fine motor practice helps them prepare for writing skills that they will begin in school.
Using an eye dropper, your child suctioned water from a cup, then carefully dropped the right amount to fill each section of a lego. This activity worked on your child’s fine motor skills, controlling and pincer grip which are essential for writing skills.
Effective phonemic awareness instruction teaches young children to notice, think about, and manipulate the shapes in spoken language.
Articulation and letter segmentation are two important components of this instruction. For the young child, one way to promote letter-sound correspondence is through the use of manipulatives.
For this activity we constructed the letter M using craft sticks with velcro attached at the ends.
Students maneuvered the sticks, using the velcro as an adhesive. Once completed, we practiced articulating the “m” sound with our mouths, noting the shape our mouths made, and the different sounds that we produced.
Writing is a skill that most people use every single day, whether it be writing a note to a friend or writing a check to a utility company. Even in the age of technology, the written word is still everywhere. But how do you teach a young child the proper way to write? The first step is simple… pre-writing. Pre-writing is learning the skills necessary to begin writing. Pre-writing is an important step because it teaches children the correct way to hold a pencil, how to use a good, firm grip, and emphasizes the use of fine motor skills. Pre-writing also helps children with the development of hand/eye coordination, learn that words go left to right, and that lines of writing go top to bottom on a page.
Ideally, the first materials used are not markers and pencils but materials that allow children to strengthen the muscles in their hands needed to properly hold writing implements. We add a tactile (kinesthetic) component when we practice shaping the letters with different materials. Shaping letters with dough, tracing them on textured paper cutouts, and writing in the sand or salt trays all help children internalize the shape of the letter, while developing their fine motor skills.
For this activity, we practiced tracing the letter W with flour! Your child was directed to trace the letter W into the flour. Doing so helped your child develop stronger familiarity with the structure of W, integrating the sense of touch to create a visual representation of the letter.
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.