Teacher Spotlight: Learning the Alphabet with Greg Smedley
Welcome once again to our Teacher Spotlight, giving recognition (and free books!) to deserving teachers who have great ideas to share. Today's featured teacher is Greg Smedley of Nashville, Tennessee.
Greg writes a colorful blog titled "Smedley's Smorgasbord of Kindergarten" that touches on such interesting topics as art in the Common Core classroom and useful apps for students and teachers. The blog has been running since May 2012, and Greg is very prolific—in just over a year, he has put up 336 creative and enthusiastic posts!
Today, he wants to share his fun kindergarten activity, the Letter Hunt! Below, he'll tell you all about it.
At the beginning of kindergarten, one of our first learning goals is to learn the letters of the alphabet. There are many ways we do this such as music, art, and of course, just quick letter recognition flashcard activities. One of my students’ favorite activities is going on a letter hunt in the sand!
To prepare for the activity you will need a large plastic dish tub. These can be found for $1 at most stores. You will need sand, which you can get at most home improvement stories in small bags. And finally you will need a set of magnetic letters*. I also use Letter Buddies Letter Books from Hameray Publishing Group.
Pour the sand into the dish tub and bury the letters in the sand. Have your students sit in a circle around the tub. We sing the Alphabet Song once or twice to get our brains ready for letters. I choose one student to go on a letter hunt. They dig through the sand (yes, it gets a little messy but my motto is "messy = successful learning!") and pull out one (just one!) letter.
They identify the letter and place it on the board. We say the name of the letter. After we name the letter, we find our Letter Buddy book for that letter and we name all of the pictures that begin with that letter.
We continue until we have found all 26 letters of the alphabet.
You can modify this activity in many ways. You can identify sounds of the letters and name words that start with that sound. You can mix in upper case and lowercase letters and have students identify the letter and decide if it is an uppercase or lowercase letter. You can even replace the letters with numbers to make this a math lesson!
As a closing activity and to get a quick informal observation piece, the students return to their tables and practice writing the letters of the alphabet.
My name is Greg Smedley-Warren and yes, I am a bit of a rockstar! I am a male kindergarten teacher! It’s true! We are a rare species, but we do exist! I have been teaching for eight years and I have taught 5th grade, 2nd grade and kindergarten. My heart is Kindergarten! I believe that every student can succeed and that it’s my job to give them the tools they need. My classroom is full of energy and fun. We are always singing, dancing, moving, and learning. If you were to appear at my classroom door you would see chaos. But it’s really organized chaos. I am famous for my love of all things glitter, all things mustaches, and silly hats! I also write a teaching blog, Smedley’s Smorgasboard of Kindergarten, which is a peek into my silly and chaotic life as a teacher!
I live in Nashville, TN (Music City USA) with my husband and our Golden Doodle, Butters!
Greg will be returning with two guest blog posts later this summer! Check back frequently to see what other fun activities he has in store. To nominate yourself or another teacher for the Teacher Spotlight, tell us a little more here. If you'd like to learn more about the Letter Buddies Letter Books used in this activity, you can download the series highlights below!
* Hameray offers magnetic letters here.