I always start off my letter/sound instruction by singing two ABC songs. The first one focuses just on the letters and order of the alphabet. The second one focuses on the sound of each letter. I sing these songs every day of the school year. Singing the alphabet is important because _____Even though I have not formally taught every letter and sound at this time of year, the kids quickly learn the songs and they actually recognize many of the letter sounds before I have formally taught them. We then review pictures that begin with the sound of M. I use the same pattern for these pictures every day and with every letter. You will see this pattern throughout my lessons. The basic pattern is I say(name of picture), you say(name of picture), we say letter sound three times. For example, I may begin with the picture of 'mouse' with the letter M. I say: Mouse. Students say: Mouse. We all say: /m/ /m/ /m/
Our printing books are called Leo books. Leo books are the books that our district has printed for letter formation practice.
I do the capital letter as directed teaching on Tuesdays and the lower case letter as directed teaching on Thursdays. When we do letter formation practice it is very systematic and teacher directed. I do the pages one line at a time.
You will notice that at the top of the page there are clues that help with letter formation. I do not use those clues because they are difficult for kindergartners to follow. I use clue words that are easier for kindergartners to both remember and follow when making the capital M.
Say:Boys and girls, pencils down, eyes on me. Where to I start for the capital M? (at the top) That’s right we put our pencils at the top and we make a straight line down and sit it on the bottom line. (students are watching me and I write very slowly and precisely so they do the same) Then we pick up our pencil and put it back on the top line. Then we make a slanted line down, slanted line up and a straight line back down. (there is now an ‘M’ on the line) Does everyone see how my M is sitting on the bottom line? (yes) Ok. Watch me again. (I make another M very slowly) Say: Start at the top, go down. Pick your pencil up and go down again. Up to the top. Down and touch the bottom line. For capital M we go down-top-down-up-down. I try to give simple word sequence clues for students to say to themselves as they make the letters. I only do this after I have modeled it several times, so the kids know what the word clues mean.
I believe in the power of non example as well as example, so I do a few non examples as well. I have found that modeling is a great strategy, but non examples head off mistakes that might otherwise be made. I make it clear to students what I want and what I do not want. Most kids do not intuatively understand what is incorrect just because I've modeled something correctly. Non examples also limit the amount of reteaching and unteaching that I have to do.
Say: Boys and girls, is this a good capital M? I make a capital M that is not sitting on the line or one where I start on the bottom line. The students will tell me ‘no’ and then I ask them to tell me why. I then stress to them to NOT make Ms that are flying in the air, meaning they do not sit on the bottom line.
Say: Now I want you to try your Ms on line #1. Only line #1 then you put your pencil down and wait for me. Begin. As kids are making their Ms on the first line, I assist and monitor where necessary. If students are making mistakes, I use hand over hand to help them, or I show them with my marker on their paper while they watch. I then have them make an M while I watch and offer further correction, if it is necessary. As I see that kids are finishing, I go back to the document camera and do the same routine with the rest of the page.
Each day students rotate through centers, going to one per day. I have a centers chart where students find their name and which center they are assigned to for that day. My centers are designed to address skills that students need, be it fine motor, gross motor or academic. Here are my centers for this week.
1. Pocket Chart- Students sort pictures into 2 groups: /m/ and non /m/. I have a basket of pictures (mouse, muffin, cat, car, motorcycle, castle, etc...) and students place the /m/ pictures under the 'M' card on the left side of the pocket chart and the /c/ on the right side of the pocket chart.
2. Writing- Students practice writing the letter Mm on white boards
3. Math- I have picture puzzles that have two pieces per puzzle. One side is a number 1-10 and the other side is a picture with a certain number of objects. Students must match the number to the correct set of objects. For example, they would match the number two with the puzzle piece that shows 2 bicycles.
4. Art M cut/paste-Students distinguish /m/ pictures and glue them in to a larger picture
5. Computer- students can listen to /m/ pictures and a story on starfall.com