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 have formally taught them. Here is a picture of the chart we use while singing!
We then review pictures that begin with the sound of T. I use the same pattern for these pictures every day and with every letter. You will see this pattern throughout my lessons:
I say(name of picture)
Students say(name of picture)
We all say letter sound three times.
For example, I may begin with the picture of 'turtle' with the letter T. I say: Turtle. Students say: Turtle. We all say: /t/ /t/ /t/
If you do not have any picture cards, here is a great video that reviews /t/ words and also addresses letter formation!!
Explicit instruction in both the isolated sound and letter formation is crucial for both reading and writing in kindergarten! It helps students sound out words when reading and spell words when writing.
Our printing books are called Leo books. 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. Lower case t video
Say: Boys and girls, pencils down, eyes on me. Where to I start for the lower case t? (at the top) That’s right we put our pencils on the top line. I then go straight down and touch the bottom line. (students are watching me and I write very slowly and precisely) I pick up my pencil and put it on the middle line, just to the left of our first line. I then go straight across the middle line. (there is now a ‘t’ on the line) Does everyone see how my t is sitting on the bottom line? (yes) Ok. Watch me again. (I make another t very slowly) Say: Start on the top line. Down. Middle. Across. 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.
Say: Now I want you to try your t’s on line #s 1-2. Only line #s 1-2, then you put your pencil down and wait for me. Begin.
As kids are making their ts on the first two lines, 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 a t 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.
Here is a picture of "hand over hand" with a different letter. The letter doesn't matter. The strategy works with any letter formation activity!
The Common Core standards call for kindergartners to have experience with letter formation. This direct instruction is important so students learn how to write neatly.
Centers: Students rotate through the centers, going to one per day. I have a centers chart where they find their name daily and what 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.
1.Pocket Chart- Students sort pictures into groups in a large pocket chart. I put a mix of pictures (tree, mop, snake, snowman, mask, turtle, mailbox, tent, etc…) in a basket and students sort them into three groups: /t/, /m/ and /s/
2. Writing-I use the Ellison Die Cut letters and punch T and t from fine grain sandpaper and glue them to 4” x 5” pieces of construction paper for durability. Students trace the letters with their fingers using proper letter formation that has been both modeled and practiced. I will also include other letters (Mm, Ss, Hh) that I have provided direct instruction in for students to review and practice further. (tactile fine motor),
3. Art- T cut and paste-Students distinguish /t/ ‘feathers’ and glue those /t/ feathers into a turkey picture.
4. Computer- students can listen to /t/ pictures and a story on starfall.com
5. Listening- Students listen to a variety of letter/sound songs that review letters and sounds.