Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to make several ABC order puzzles. What I do is save pictures from old calendars, and then "stripe" them using a ruler (Starting a calendar puzzle). With a marker, I write letters in order in the spaces, but not always starting from A. Then I run the calendar picture through a laminator (Laminating the puzzle) to make the pictures more sturdy. Finally, (Finishing the puzzle) I cut the picture into strips and use a permanent marker to write a symbol on the back of each strip so that all the pieces end up back in the correct puzzle bag.
When I first introduce this activity, I have the children meet me on the rug.
Children, I have a problem and I need your help. I have all these wonderful pictures of places, animals, cars, etc... but some how they have come apart and all the pieces are mixed up. I need your help to put the pictures back together. There is a clue, though. Each picture has letters on them and if the letters are put in the right order, you will see the puzzle picture.
During the reading process, it is a good idea begin teaching your class how to put letters in alphabetical order. This skill is important and used in looking up anything that is listed alphabetically. In kindergarten, it helps for students to better understand the arrangement of letters.
Now that you know how to do this activity, I am going to send you off to your stations. One group will work on the rest of these puzzles at the Phonics Station. (These are ability level groupings based on previous assessments.) While you are at this phonics work station,you will pick a zipper-bagged puzzle. Each bag has a different calendar picture puzzle. Put each picture together by putting the letters in alphabetical order. Not all of the puzzles begin at "A'. Some will begin with a different letter, and the rest of the letters will follow in order. For example, if your puzzle starts with "F", then the next pieces will be G,H,I,J,K and so on.
If you have put the puzzle together correctly, you will see a complete picture, but if it does not quite look right, you might need to move some pieces around. Check with a friend in your group to see if they think the puzzle is in order, but then take it apart, mix it up and put it back into the correct bag. The shape on the back of the puzzle should match the shape on the bag you are putting it in.
Do as many puzzles as you can before time runs out on our stations. Will you be able to do them all?
(To differentiate the puzzles, I started some at the letter A; some puzzle pieces start with other letters. For struggling students, I put fewer letters on the page.)
The puzzles are self-correcting. If the letters are put into the correct order, then the picture will look complete. In the time allotted, the children should have time to do several puzzles and share their results with friends. Since I am often with other groups, this self-correcting activity helps with the management of my stations. I can "pop" over to see how the group is doing without having to take too much time away from my small group.
For clean-up, I put a mark on the back of each puzzle piece and then mark the bags to match. Easy clean-up and organization!