Taking a Spin Around the Alphabet

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SWBAT identify letter and phonemes while playing a game. Student Objective: I can play a top-spinning game called "Spin Around the Alphabet" to practice saying letters and sounds.

Big Idea

Providing varied ways of learning to read keeps students motivated to practice.


5 minutes

Letter recognition is important because it enables beginning readers to figure out how printed text is associated with the spoken language.  Having a mastery of letter names can make learning letter sounds easier for young readers.  This activity is designed to be a fun way to practice these skills without the "drill and kill" of flashcards.

Covering one of the students' tables, I have taken a plastic table cloth and marked it with capital and lowercase letters.  My tablecloth happened to have Stars all over it, so I wrote the letters on the stars.    I explained that there were four main components of the game: the tablecloth, a top, an alphabet chart and two-color counters.  My class is divided into groups of four, so each group would have two teams of two--the red team and the yellow team.   The teammates sit across from one another so they can alternate turns.

Boys from the red group, today you are going to be playing a game that I call "Spinning Around the Alphabet".  At your table, I have placed a star-covered tablecloth.  On the stars are capital and lowercase letters.  The tablecloth is your playing field.  There is a top for spinning, an alphabet recording sheet, and two-color counters to mark your recording sheet.  You will divide yourselves into two teams, the red team and the yellow team.  Two children per team.

Before we start playing, I want to do a little review with you.  What is the difference between a lowercase and an uppercase or capital letter?  When do I use the capital letters?  Does an uppercase letter make a different sound then its lowercase letter?   As I point to a letter on the tablecloth, tell me its name and what sound it makes.


15 minutes

Remember our objective when playing this game:  "I can play a top-spinning game to practice saying letters and sounds." This is how we play. (I demonstrate the steps as I explain them.) The first child spins the top.  The top moves around the table as it spins.  Which ever letter it lands on, the child says the letter name and the letter sound.  If he/she gives a correct response, the child puts a two-sided counter on the alphabet chart with his team color facing up. The each child repeats the process of spinning and responding, and then marking the alphabet chart.   If someone lands on the same letter and answers correctly, they get to flip over the counter on the alphabet chart, and claim that letter as their own.  When the chart is filled or time is up, the teams count up their counters.  The winning team is the one that has the most counters.  Do you think you are ready to try?  If each of you stands on a different side of the table, someone is always there to catch the top if it spins off the table.  Yellow team goes first.

While the children are playing, I coach them through the activity of Spinning Letters and Sounds. I ask them questions about the letters, whether they are capital or lowercase and what sound(s) the letters make.  This allows me the opportunity to see what the students know and how well they can verbalize their learning.


5 minutes

The best way to assess this activity is to sit down at the table as the children play the game.  It is helpful to have a small group documentation form to write down notes about the encounter.  The children will not reveal the complete truth about what they know (or don't know) just by looking at the alphabet chart.  By taking notes with each group, you can start to identify areas of concern for all the different groupings: individuals, small groups and whole class.  This can help direct your teaching.