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Alphabetic Knowledge Presented by Cherry Carl

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alphabetic knowledge

Alphabetic Knowledge

Presented by Cherry Carl

Most early attempts at literacy start out as barely recognizable drawings and doodles. Until children have learned to perceive the attributes and characteristics of letters, they will continue to use and confuse them. The purpose of this presentation is to provide teachers and parents with an assortment of concrete activities and strategies to facilitate the development of letter knowledge and recognition.
what is alphabetic knowledge
What is Alphabetic Knowledge?
  • Recognition of the shape of the letter
  • Ability to name the letter
  • Knowledge of the sound of the letter
  • Automaticity in naming letters
  • Ability to print the letter
what does research say
What Does Research Say?
  • Letter knowledge has been identified as a strong predictor of reading success (Ehri & Sweet, 1991). 
  • While teaching children letter names does not in itself result in success in learning to read (Jenkins, Bausell, & Jenkins, 1972), it can facilitate memory for the forms or shapes of letters and can serve as a mnemonic for letter-sound associations or phonics (Adams, 1990).
what does research say5
What Does Research Say?
  • Knowledge of the alphabet is essential in early reading instruction. It provides teachers and students with common language for discussing graphophonic relationships. Assessment of alphabet knowledge should occur in two contexts: letter recognition within words and sentences, and letters in isolation. (Reutzel and Cooter, 1996)
classroom implications
Classroom Implications
  • Promote knowledge of letters

To promote flexible learning of letters, children must acquire knowledge of letters in many different ways. A simple rule is to begin with the easiest letters- those letters with maximum contrast (for example, m, b, f, s, r) - and promote overlearning with these letters.

classroom implications7
Classroom Implications
  • Opportunities to explore

Children need opportunities to learn about and manipulate the building blocks of written language. Knowledge of letters (graphemes) leads to success with learning to read. This includes the use, purpose, and function of letters.

classroom implications8
Classroom Implications
  • Sharing Reading of the Alphabet Chart

The chart is read daily until the children are able to read the chart independently. The chart becomes a familiar resource for associating letter and sound cues during reading and writing events.

The teacher points to each letter (upper and lower case) and each picture as she leads the children in a shared reading activity.

ways of looking at letters
Ways of Looking at Letters
  • The name of the letter
  • The way the letter looks
  • The sound of the letter
  • The feel of the letter in the mouth
  • The movement of the letter as it is written
  • A word associated with the letter
  • The way the word looks embedded in a word
  • Partner Puzzles
  • Work Mats
  • Little Readers
  • Class Big Books
  • ABC Sticker Book
  • Dominoes
  • ABC Go Fish
  • Search for Letters
  • Alphabet Stories
  • Peek Over Flip Books
  • Songs
  • Skill Wheels
  • Alphabet Sorts
  • Font Sorts
  • Picture Sorts
  • Letter Lotto
  • Shape Books
more activities
More Activities
  • Playdough Letters
  • Alphabet Charts
  • Environmental Print
  • Power Writing
  • Literacy Centers:

Alphabet Avenue

Magnetic Letter Center

Sort City

Names Nook

alphabet peek over flip book
Alphabet Peek Over Flip Book

A Peek Over Flip Book provides the format for students to explore and record beginning, ending and medial sound pictures and words. See directions and samples in handout.


The Old Red Rooster(Tune: “The Old Gray Mare”)

The old red rooster isn’t what he used to be, No cock-a-doodle-dee,In the morning, waking me!The old red rooster doesn’t even make me stir,With his /r/  /r/  /r/!

The old red rooster isn’t what he used to be,I think he ate a bumblebee!Perhaps I’ll make him drink some tea.The old red rooster doesn’t say a single word,Except his /r/  /r/  /r/!

alphabet skill wheels
Alphabet Skill Wheels

Skill Wheels provide the opportunity for students to have independent practice (using manipulatives to hear and identify beginning sounds).

alphabet sorts
Alphabet Sorts
  • by color
  • by upper-case and lower-case forms
  • by letter name
  • by attributes (tall/short, round/straight)
  • same/different
  • letters in known words
  • first, last, middle letters in known words
  • alphabetical order
font sorts
Font Sorts

Font Sorts are important because of the diversity in print that children will encounter in picture books and in environmental print. Sorts also provide independent practice.

picture sorts
Picture Sorts

Use one or two sets of pictures for sorting in a pocket chart, on the floor, or at a desk.

Picture Sorts provide the opportunity to see, say, and hear sounds of letters. They are a good vocabulary builder and work well for second language learners.

letter lotto
Letter Lotto

Materials: playing cards, pictures, letters, markers

shape books
Shape Books
  • Children draw several small pictures on each page of things that begin with v. (Use colored pencils instead of marking pens.) The teacher or aide should label pictures for kindergarten students and/or at risk first graders. This becomes an open ended picture dictionary of their vocabulary. This works especially well with second language learners.
partner puzzles
Partner Puzzles

Partner Puzzles provide the opportunity for independent practice that is self-correcting.

work mats
Work Mats

Use clay and other textual materials for building letters on work mats.

little reader practice books
Little Reader Practice Books

Little Reader Practice Books facilitate the development of phonemic awareness, sound/symbol knowledge and automaticity in letter recognition.

class big books
Class Big Books

Class Big Books facilitate the development of phonemic awareness and serve as picture dictionaries. Great for ESL.

search for letters
Search for Letters
  • Give each child a magazine and let him search the pages for each letter of the alphabet. Have him cut out one letter for each letter on the chart. After he has found each letter, have him glue the letters in the correct order on a sheet of construction paper.
alphabet touch
Alphabet Touch
  • Use this tactile activity to help children review letter names. Have children work in pairs. Ask one child to write a letter on another child's back, using his finger. The child who is being written on must point to the letter on the chart.
alphabet picture books
Alphabet Picture Books
  • Check out alphabet books from the library, such as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1989), and On Market Street, by Arnold Lobel (Greenwillow books, 1981). Share these stories with the children and then place them in an ABC center.
playdough letters
Playdough Letters
  • Give children small pieces of play dough and let them use it to form each of the letters on the chart. The children may wish to take turns selecting letters from the chart to make with the play dough. You may also substitute lengths of yarn or string for the play dough.
alphabet charts
Alphabet Charts

Keep a wide variety of alphabet charts in your ABC Literacy Center along with child-friendly pointers.

flexible practice
Flexible Practice
  • After you have modeled and rehearsed together the way to write a letter or letters with specific oral and visual directions, students can practice these letters independently using an assortment of media until they are able to do it in a fast and fluent manner. See it, say it, and do it in a variety of ways: in the air, on the back of a neighbor, on the floor with their foot. It also is valuable to create those same letters with a variety of media.
flexible practice materials
Flexible Practice Materials
  • White boards
  • Chalk boards
  • Magna Doodles
  • Templates
  • Tactile letters
  • Finger paint
  • Variety of writing tools
  • Textured materials
suggested alphabet materials
Suggested Alphabet Materials
  • Colorful magnetic letters
  • Letter cards
  • Sandpaper letters
  • Salt trays
  • Chalkboards
  • Stamps and Stencils
  • Dry erase boards
  • Wikki Sticks
more alphabet materials
More Alphabet Materials
  • Alphabet books (commercial or teacher created)
  • Letter lotto
  • Alphabet placemats
  • Alphabet rugs
  • A variety of charts
  • Blocks
  • Board games
  • Letter walls
  • Matching games
more alphabet materials36
More Alphabet Materials
  • Names Nook with student names and pictures
  • Names Chart
  • Alphabet attributes corner
  • Pocket charts and/or shoe bags
  • Desktop alphabet charts
  • “Stuff” for sorting
  • Pointers of assorted sizes and types
  • Butcher paper
  • Shaving Cream
recommended reading
Recommended Reading
  • Clay, Marie (1993). Reading Recovery: A Guidebook for Teachers in Training. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Dorn, Linda, French, Cathy, and Jones, Tammy (1998). Apprenticeship in Literacy: Transitions Across Reading and Writing. York, Maine: Stenhouse.
Please note that materials for all activities outlined in this presentation can be downloaded from the author’s Alphabet Avenue web page: