Kindergarteners are alphabet experts! By the end of kindergarten, children know most or all of the capital and lower-case letters, and their associated sounds. The idea that letters represent sounds is called phonological awareness, and is a key ingredient to success in reading.
Kindergarteners develop phonological awareness skills in a variety of ways, including lots of fun, hands-on games. Here’s a fun, albeit “roundabout” way to get your child to listen to beginning alphabet sounds and match them with their letter symbols.
What You Need:
- digital camera and printer paper
- fine point permanent marker
- a 7-inch circle, cut from card stock
- glue or tape
- paper lunch bag
What You Do:
- Assist your child in taking individual pictures of family members. Print the pictures, and cut out the faces. (Note: You’ll want the pictures to be small – no more than 1 square inch each.)
- Glue (or tape) these faces around the outside of the card stock circle, and allow to dry.
- Ask your child to point to each face, and say the person’s name. Ask her to tell you the sound she hears first in that name. Then ask her if she knows what letter represents that sound. Use a permanent marker to write the letter on the closed end of a clothespin. Repeat until you have one clothespin per person.
- Now have your child clip each clothespin to the circle by matching the initial consonant sound to the person whose name begins with that letter.
- Make a game of this activity so the fun can last. Put all the clothespins in a lunch bag. Add some extra clothespins to the bag, labeled with letters she doesn’t need. Have her pick one clothespin at a time, and decide if it should be clipped, or not clipped. See how many tries it takes her to finish clipping all the pictures on the circle. Have her try to beat her score the next time.
- Store the pieces in the lunch bag for repeated practice.
- As your child gets better at this, make it more challenging for her by varying the information on the clothespins or on the circle. For example, play “Clap ‘n Clip!” On the other side of the clothespins, write the number of syllables in each person’s name. Have her clap each person’s name (for example, JENN-EE = two claps) and match the numbered clothespin to the number of syllables in each name. Now you have two match-up games in one! For another variation, flip the circle over, and have her add pictures of common household objects. Label a new set of clothespins for her to match to the objects.
Liana Mahoney is a National Board Certified elementary teacher, currently teaching a first and second grade loop. She is also a certified Reading Specialist, with teaching experience as a former high school English teacher, and early grades Remedial Reading.