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. 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 formally teach 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/
If you do not have any picture cards, here is a great video that does the same thing!
I use these books throughout the year to build the foundational skills of letter/sound knowledge, reading, vocabulary and letter formation. The first few times we do these books, we do them whole group.
I leave the ‘book’ as a page for the writing part of the lesson. It is much easier for my students to write on a flat paper than a book that is folded and stapled. They simply do not have enough experience with books yet to press the page down firmly to write on it and it is far too time consuming for me to do it for every student.
I have them look at each line and I print the capital and lower case Mm much like I print it in the Leo book. Students are seated on the carpet with me and I am up front modeling what they are going to do at their seats.
I say: Boys and girls, everyone look at the page with the title on it. We are going to write our name on that page on the line at the bottom. I write my name on that line. I say: Now we are going to make our letter Mm on each line on the front and back of our paper. After that, I am going to show you how to cut this and make it into a book! Does everyone see the number 1 here for page 1? (yes) On this line at the bottom, I am going to write our upper and lower case Mm. Where do I start for the capital M? (on the top line) That’s right. I begin on the top line. I go: top down. Back to the top and slant down, touch the bottom line. Then up to the top, and back straight down to the bottom. Remember, for the capital M we go: down, down, up, down. Say that with me and make an M in the air with your finger. Ready? (fingers are in the air) Top down, top slanted line down, up and down. I make the M in the air with them as I say the directions. I love skywriting as a strategy because it gives me a preliminary view of student understanding. Obviously, I cannot correct the fine motor aspects of letter formation, but it does allow me to correct the glaring mistakes that kids make like starting at the bottom and going up as opposed to starting at the top and going down first. The students also really enjoy this!
I say: Good. Lets do the lower case m now. Where do I start? That’s right, on the middle line. Remember for lower case m, I go: Middle down. Up and around, up and around. I make the lower case m as I say this. Remember, for the lower case m we go: Middle down. Up and around, up and around. Say that with me and make an M in the air with your finger. Ready? (fingers are in the air) : Middle down. Up and around, up and around. I make the m in the air with them as I say the directions.
For the subsequent pages, I simplify my narrative to the short version of how to make the letters. I say: On page 2, we are going to make the M and m again! Remember for the M we go: Top down. Top down. Up. Down. For the m, we go: Middle down, up and around up and around. Again, I making the letters as I say the abbreviated directions, so they make sense to the students. I do the letter Mm on all of the lines in this same fashion.
I say: Now we are going to cut our paper and fold it to make it into a book. Watch me. I am going to get my scissors and cut ACROSS on the line. Not DOWN. ACROSS. I cut across on the horizontal line to show students where to cut. Remember to cut on the line exactly! Then we fold both of our pieces in half. Boys and girls, after you have folded these pieces, raise your hand and I will come and staple your book together for you. Then you can color the pictures. Does everyone understand what we are doing? Any questions? Ok! Let’s get started! I usually dismiss them by rows to get a paper and sit down to write their names and letters in the book.
As they are writing, I am monitoring and assisting when necessary. If students are not using correct letter formation, I erase their letters and ask them to do it again. I stand and watch to make sure they know what to do. Depending on the student, I will use hand over hand or highlighter tracing to help them with formation. For those students who have never held a pencil before and are struggling with how to even form a basic line, I use a highlighter to make the letter for them and they trace it. This gives them a concrete representation and scaffold that they can SEE. For those students who are struggling only with the sequence of steps for the formation of the letter, I use hand over hand to help set the sequence.
After all student books are stapled, we read the pictures and words together. I have my book on the document camera so all students can see it. Students are sitting at their desks with their books in front of them. I say: Boys and girls, let’s read the title together. I will say a word, then you echo me. Ready? We echo read the title
Turn to page 2. What picture do you see there? (man) Touch the word here at the bottom. Say MAN. (students say ‘man’) Now look at page 3. Do you know how I know it is page 3? Accept student answers, but point out that there is a number 3 on the bottom of the page. What is that picture? (monkey) Now touch this word here at the bottom. Say monkey. (students repeat) I follow this same pattern for the whole book.
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