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Introduction To Letters, Letter Aa
- As with numbers, introduce the children to the alphabet
as a whole rather than just immediately going to the letter A. One way to
demonstrate what "words" are is to have the children, without speaking, show you
"happy." Then discuss how we can "show" happy, we can "say" happy, and we
can "print" happy (show them a printed version). Let them help you match
the letters in "happy" to letters of the alphabet. Make a game of this by
using other words in the same way. Think of any word that can be gestured,
said, and printed: yes, no, cold, sad, sleepy, etc. Discuss where words
are seen and show examples: newspapers, signs, magazines, etc. Show an unfamiliar
book, explaining that without the words, we wouldn't know what the story is about.
Another thing that's fun to do to show the importance of words: Print the following
words on six separate index cards: "Pour the milk in the cup." At grouptime,
line the words up to say "Pour the cup in the milk," then read it to the class.
Discuss what's wrong. The children won't be able to read the words but they
can observe their importance as they help you decide the proper order of the sentence
cards. In advance, make up other fun short sentences to "play" with together:
"put the box in the toys, water your drink, wash your soap with hands, etc."
Make it fun!!
- Note: I also briefly
introduce lower case letters with their upper case partners. A fun way to
introduce new letters is to modulate your voice: "This is the UPPER-CASE A"
(speaking in a fairly loud, firm, indoor voice), and, "This is the lower-case
a" (speaking in a whispering voice). I sometimes use the words
BIG and little instead of upper/lower case.
Each time we learn a new upper-case letter, we feel a textured version of it,
sound it out, and maybe practice print it in the air with our fingers.
Note On the Subject of Printing Letters:
I was taught that it's inappropriate for preschoolers
to be printing letters because the fine muscles in their hands are not yet developed
enough, and that we should focus, instead, on letter RECOGNITION and fine motor
activities that will prepare those muscles for LATER printing. As with anything,
you can find those who disagree. But, since I believe in the way I
was taught, I don't force children to sit down and print the alphabet on paper.
I do, however, keep pencils, letter stencils, and different kinds of paper
(including tracing paper) in the language center for children to do what they're
ready for -- as a free choice activity.
use the D'Nealian alphabet when printing children's names and classroom labels
since that's what most elementary schools have used in communities where I've
A college instructor I once had
used to say, "If a child can't draw a triangle, he's not ready to print an A." But
even before children draw shapes, we can provide a special pre-writing
area in our classrooms, say a chalkboard, where children can practice "writing
strokes" that will later be needed in kindergarten to form letters. Focus
on a different stroke each week: Vertical or horizontal lines, wavy lines (ocean
wave appearance), angular or zig-zag lines (mountain chain appearance), or clockwise
and counterclockwise movements.
was trained to teach "letter recognition" through games and everyday experiences,
and by providing activities where learning can take place individually, rather
than forcing children to sit and "listen" to me while I "teach." For example,
if the "letter of the week" is Aa, we might do the following:
An "A Is For Apple" Day:
apple slices on two plates. Sprinkle lemon juice on one plate of apples
then instruct the children to keep checking the apples on both plates throughout
the morning. Of course, the ones without lemon juice will turn brown.
Talk about how these changes were caused by the air but the lemon juice protected
the one plate of apples.
and experiment with textures, colors, and tastes of various forms of apples
(candied, pie filling, dried, applesauce, etc).
Little Red House With No Doors" (words below)
Through the Apple": Children stand in a line with feet spread approximately
18" apart. One child, the worm, crawls through the apple (their legs).
Let the children take turns being the worm.
This game is not a good idea if little girls in the class have worn dresses for
a pre-fractions activity with the group: Cut an apple in half, then in fourths,
then in eighths, counting pieces as you go and pointing out 1/4th or 1/8th.
^Act out the
rhyme, "Way Up High In the Apple Tree" (revised version below).
You be the tree holding up two apples (red, green, or yellow rolled-up
socks). Let each child gently twist them from your hand (branch), making
the apples come off, then pretending to eat them while repeating the rhyme.
This is also fun to do outside by placing the sock-apples in branches of a very
low real tree then have the children "gently twist them off."
A: Children do apple prints on an A paper cutout: Cut a small apple in half
(cut so the star inside will show), then dip it in paint and make prints on the
A. It's extra special if the children can glue on a little stem piece (real
one) and a few real seeds to at least one of the prints on the A!
Way Up High In the Apple Tree
revised version by Cyndi L
up high in the apple tree, Two
little apples smiled down at me, I
twisted those apples as gently as I could, Off
came the apples, ...Um, they were good!
As a lover of the earth
who is still learning how to take care of it, I am EXTREMELY
grateful to Cyndi L. who sent me her revised version above of the familiar
"Way Up High In the Apple Tree." Cyndi tells me she visited an
apple orchard with her children and was told that "shaking" the tree
(words in the familiar version) is harmful to the tree
and the apples get bruised from falling. It makes so much sense!
Here's the version I use of "The Little Red
House With No Doors." Have an apple and knife with you (but hidden).
You will need to cut the apple at the end of the story:
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Billy who was tired of playing with
his toys. He asked his mother, "Can you give me something to do?"
"Or, go see if you can find a little red house that doesn't have any windows or
doors but it has a star inside. Come back as soon as you can." So
Billy started out and he soon found a little girl and he asked her, "Do you know
where I can find a little red house that doesn't have any windows or doors but
it has a star inside?" "Ask my daddy, he may know." So Billy found
her daddy and asked him, "Do you know where I can find a little red house with
no windows and doors but it has a star inside?" The daddy laughed and said,
"I've never seen anything like that before--go ask my little girl's Grandma--she
knows everything!" So Billy asked the Grandma, "Please tell me, where can
I find a little red house with no windows and doors but it has a star inside?"
The Grandma answered, "I'd like to find that house myself, it would be warm in
the winter and the starlight would be beautiful. Go ask the wind--maybe
he knows." The wind whistled by Billy and Billy said, "Oh wind, can you
help me find a little red house with no windows and doors but it has a star inside?"
The wind couldn't talk but it blew hard pushing Billy to where there was an apple
tree. The wind shook the branches and down came a beautiful red apple.
Billy picked it up and looked at it. It was a little red house. It
didn't have any windows or doors but he couldn't see it inside. So he took
it home to his mother so she could cut it for him. She cut it and there
right in the middle was a star holding little brown seeds. Billy smiled
and said, "I found it!"
1. In order to
reveal the star in an apple, you must hold it with the stem pointing to the side
while cutting it in half. After telling the story above, ask questions about
it to see who was wearing their listening ears!
When making apple prints, you can push a "broken in half" craft stick into
the top part of the apple half for children to have a handle to hold on to while
painting. Also, sometimes, if the paint mixture isn't the proper thickness,
the "star" doesn't show up on the paper. So, rather than dipping the apple
into the paint, have children brush a thin coat of paint onto the apple half,
then make the print.
share your way of introducing the alphabet, ideas for letter "A," and
your favorite alphabet books by e-mailing me at email@example.com
One of my website visitors, who
didn't leave a name, says: When teaching letters,
I refer to the uppercase letter as the "Mommy" (as in Mommy A) and the lowercase
letter as the "Baby" (as in Baby a).
from Longview, Texas, shares
how she introduces basic phonics sounds: "We make different animal sounds then
I share with the children that each letter has a special sound. I'm truly
amazed at how quickly they can learn."
hardworking college student, took time from her busy schedule to share this most
comprehensive unit on "Apples" with us.
(Computer Newbies: Go ahead
-- click on the underlined word "APPLES" above -- don't worry about getting lost
as that page will return you to this one.)
in Colorado Springs, Colorado, suggests these two "apple" recipes as food projects/snacks
for the letter Aa/apple theme.
5 Cups Apples* 1/4
Tsp Nutmeg 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon
Cup Quick Oats (dry) 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
Cup Melted Margarine 1/3 Cup Flour
oven to 375 degrees. Place apples in 8" sq baking dish. Sprinkle with
nutmeg and cinnamon. Combine remaining ingredients, mixing till crumbly.
Sprinkle crumb mixture on top of apples. Bake about 30 mins. Serve
warm with ice cream. *You can play with the amount of apples, or even use
apple pie filling instead, omitting flour from the ingredients. You can
also use other fruit fillings.
Red apples (one makes about 4 smiles)
the apple into 8 slices. On one slice, spread some peanut butter, then place
another slice on top of that. Next, place marshmallows upright between the
slices to look like teeth. It looks like a smile.
"Apple Smiles" fit right in with the theme of "Feelings" too)
Tiny Apples: In advance, punch out tiny red
apples from construction paper using an apple hole puncher. Provide children
with a large black apple cut-out and lots of the tiny red apples to glue onto
it. Picking the tiny ones up individually and gluing them onto the large
one takes lots of concentration and is a great pre-writing exercise for little
Other "A" Activities
about introducing an Abacus to the children?
children find all the A's in a deck of cards
an "apron" for dramatic play
"Ants on a Log" for snack (the old familiar peanut butter stuffed celery
with raisins on top)
like "airplanes" or move like various "animals"
at and discuss pictures in photo albums
Picture: Give each child an "airplane" cutout to glue onto their papers.
Provide crayons and collage materials. Instruct them to finish their "airplane"
pictures any way they choose. Observe and encourage as the children draw
and collage. You might ask, "Where do airplanes fly?" "What else is
in the sky?" "Do all airplanes look the same?" Have them tell you about
their completed picture then print their exact words at the bottom of their papers.
(By the way, I like giving the children tracing paper on which to glue their airplanes
as it gives the feel of "being in a misty sky.")
Board Idea: Background: If you plan to display the children's alphabet related
projects on a particular bulletin board throughout the year, you could have children
sponge-paint a piece of butcher paper as a background using store-bought ABC shaped
sponges (found at educational supply stores). Dipping the sponges in
a very light yellow paint is good as you want the background to be subtle, not
absolutely love this wonderful little letter "recognition and sound"
song sent to me from Anne, in Canada. You simply sing the words of
the first line to the tune of "This Old Man" on the second line:
Letter a says
old man (sing "Letter a" quickly using the
a/ a/ a/
plays knickknack on his thumb
as in alli
With a knickknack
a dog a bone
Let - ter a
a/ a/ a/
old man came rolling home
Children hold up cards with Aa on them or clap each time
they sing the letter sound. You can sing the same tune for the letter Bb
using "bubble and bug," for Cc using "Crackerjack and cat," for Dd using "dandelion
and dog" -- you get the idea.
a great idea from one of my unidentified website visitors:
Table Labels: I cut out big letters and numbers out of construction paper,
then I use contact paper to attach them to the tables where we do our project.
When Circle Time is over and it's time to go do project I say, "Joey, please go
sit at table "A" (or whatever I have on the various tables).
Airplane Alphabet Book, by Jerry Pallotta & Fred Stillwell;
illustrated by Rob Bolster: You might
want to put this book in your Language Center for children to look at the pictures
when doing your unit for the letter A or "airplane" theme. It includes pictures
of all kinds of airplanes with names that begin with letters of the alphabet.
Kathy Norwood, Cornerstone Child Development Center:
I developed the following plans from Eric
Carle's book "My
is a book based on a true story form Eric Carle's own childhood. As a boy,
he goes to his uncle and aunt's house for a visit. He wants to help his
uncle at work, but first, his aunt makes young Eric an apron.
The teacher wears an apron with pockets and inside each pocket is a concrete object
beginning with the letter "A." You can let children discover each object
by guessing what's in each pocket. They can then count the objects displayed.
Next, children close their eyes while teacher takes one of the objects away.
They then try to guess which object is missing.
Bring a box to Group Time that has different types of aprons and corresponding
tools in it (a barbecue apron, a carpenter's nail apron, and a baker's apron).
After reading the book "My Apron," children take turns trying on different aprons
and picking the tools that go with them. This can then become part of the
Home Center for the rest of the week.
Allow children a chance to retell the story of "My Apron" as teacher turns the
pages. Discuss "A" objects from DAY ONE. Children can then color precut
pictures of objects that begin with the letter A. We then make construction
paper aprons with pockets and they place their "A" pictures into their apron pockets.
from Stormie: If you would like to begin collecting ALL my current classroom
ideas (each on a 4 x 6" index card), as well as new ones that I create, you
can do so by ordering my "Activity Cards." Click here
to check them out.
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