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Working with Alphabet Books—with FREE Download!

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Mar 24, 2015 3:30:00 PM

This is the second in a series of three posts on letter learning taken from the Letter Buddies Teacher's guide by Libby Larrabee. Check back later for the next post in this series! You can read the earlier post here!

Alphabet_BooksLetter Buddies Alphabet Books are great resources that encourage young children to begin learning the alphabet. The large- format, lap-book size (12” x 16”) encourages conversation and interaction by all children in a whole- or small-group setting. During alphabet book sharing, children can learn about letter features, letter names, and letter sounds. The large letters in the corner of each page allow for easy letter-formation demonstrations.

Each Alphabet Book focuses on an environment that is common to a child’s world: home, school, and store. Encourage children to talk about their experiences in each place, using the vocabulary from these books as much as possible. This will promote greater comprehension and retention of new words and skills. 

Your conversation during Alphabet Book sharing is critical. This is the perfect time to encourage oral language development. Explicit talk and questioning about each book will encourage children to make connections to their own experiences and become involved in the reading. This is the time to explain unfamiliar concepts and teach new vocabulary.

Letter_Buddies_VAlphabet_Books_SpreadThoughtful questions and comments will also help children focus on different aspects of letter knowledge. Here are some ways that you can use the Alphabet Books:

  • Talk about the features of the lowercase and uppercase versions of each letter.
  • Name the letters and give students practice naming the letters.

  • Talk about how certain letters are grouped together to form a word. Explain that there is a word under each picture naming what the object is.

  • Show that the letter at the top of the page is the same as the first letter in the word below.

  • Demonstrate and practice alphabetical order using the picture glossary.

  • Engage in storytelling and conversation while playing the I-Spy game included.
  • Finger-trace the letters to demonstrate formation using verbal directions from the Child Talk Table (see below). 

Child_Talk-1

Child_Talk-2

For more ideas, be sure to check out the suggested activities provided at the end of each Alphabet Book!

Add to your collection! Have your students create a class alphabet book (or try it individually). Start the year with a large, empty book with at least one blank page per letter. Each time you have a read-aloud, ask the children to identify 2 or 3 items from the story to be placed in the class alphabet book. 

Alphabet books can also be used to teach initial sounds. Each page of the alphabet books uses a letter to introduce something with the corresponding beginning sound. The items introduced will be familiar to children from the context of home, school, or store. To further help children learn the correspondence between letters and initial sounds, we have included a free 23-page downloadable set of initial-sound worksheets at the bottom of the page.


Learn about our Letter Buddies line of letter-learning products for early childhood by clicking here to visit our website or clicking the image to the left below to download information sheet on Letter Buddies Alphabet Books for letter learning! To download the free worksheets, click the image to the right.

 New Call-to-Action  Letter Buddies Initial Sounds Worksheets

Read More

Topics: Letter Buddies, Alphabet Books, Letter Learning

Classic Post: Ways to Make Learning the Alphabet Fun

Posted by Greg Smedley on Aug 28, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Today, we bring you a guest blog post from Greg Smedley with fun kindergarten activities for letter learning. It was originally published in June 2013. For more from Greg, click here for his other posts and be sure to check out his blog!

Letter Hunt

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! 

letter hunt

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.

letter buddy books

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.

letter hunt 2

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.

letter buddyhunting letters

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!

~~~

If you'd like to learn more about the Letter Buddies Letter Books used in this activity, you can download the series highlights below!

New Call-to-Action

* Hameray offers magnetic letters here.

Read More

Topics: K-2 Literacy, Letter Buddies, Greg Smedley, Alphabet Books, Kindergarten

Classic Post: Letter Learning Made Fun with Silly Hats

Posted by Greg Smedley on Aug 19, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Today, we bring you a guest blog post from Greg Smedley with fun kindergarten activities for letter learning. It was originally published in July 2013. For more from Greg click here for his other posts and be sure to check out his blog!

Silly Hats!

One of the first academic skills my students learn every year is their letters. I always set a goal that a majority of my students will know all of their letters and most of their sounds by the end of October. I am always pleased at the end of October when my students have met this challenge. Of course, there will be students who need more time and practice with their letters and that’s OK!  I make sure they get plenty of small-group practice, one-on-one practice, and independent practice in centers!

We use art, music, and some flash-card-type drills to learn our letters. Now, I must admit I don’t do anything in a traditional way. I’m what some people would call eccentric! So, for our daily letter review I use a PowerPoint. All upper- and lowercase letters are included and are mixed in a random order that I change every day. I add in a fun sound effect, and we quickly run through the PowerPoint. This is a quick and different way to go over our letters every day. 

When introducing a new letter or sound, I have another trick up my sleeve. This is something that myself and my students have become quite famous for. When we learn a new letter or sound, we always kick off our learning with a silly hat! Yes, you heard me! A silly hat!

hat collage

Here’s how our silly hat lesson works:

hippo hat resized 600Let’s say we are introducing the letter H. H stands for hippopotamus, so we will be making a hippopotamus hat. To get my students thinking in terms of H, we start the lesson with a circle map.  In the middle of the circle I write Hh. The students then turn to each other and brainstorm words that begin with H. After two minutes or so of sharing, they turn back to the chart and we share our H words. After we have shared our words, we use our Letter Buddies book for H to see if we missed any H words.  We add any missing words to our chart. The great thing about the Letter Buddies books is that they often trigger the students to think of more words for our letter! I always make sure that we include the word for our hat! For example, on our H chart, I want to make sure we have the word hippopotamus!

After we complete our chart, I model to the students how to color and assemble their hat. And then the highlight of the morning: I step behind the curtain and slip on my completed hat! I make a big production of revealing our hat! My students love seeing the letter hat on the teacher. And yes, I wear my hat all day! Talk about motivating students! As they get to work on their hat, I can start pulling small groups. The hats serve as a great hook to get students excited about the letter and sound you want them to focus on. The hats act as a great conversation starter when the students are out and about in the building. This allows them the opportunity to share why they have hippo hats on their heads and allows them an opportunity to explain their learning, which is an integral part of the Common Core! These hats are a quick, fun and silly way to introduce letters and sounds to your students!

describe the image  describe the image describe the image

Z for Zipper                                    Y for Yak!                                N for nest!

 

~~~

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!

~~~

If you'd like to learn about our Letter Buddies Letter Books that partially inspired this activity, you can download the series highlights below!

 

New Call-to-Action
Read More

Topics: K-2 Literacy, Common Core, Letter Buddies, Greg Smedley, Alphabet Books, Kindergarten, Creative Activities

Working with Alphabet Books

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on Apr 23, 2014 8:47:00 AM

This is the second in a series of three posts on letter learning taken from the Letter Buddies Teacher's guide by Libby Larrabee. Check back later this week for the next post in this series! You can read the earlier post here!

Alphabet_BooksLetter Buddies Alphabet Books are great resources that encourage young children to begin learning the alphabet. The large- format, lap-book size (12” x 16”) encourages conversation and interaction by all children in a whole- or small-group setting. During alphabet book sharing, children can learn about letter features, letter names, and letter sounds. The large letters in the corner of each page allow for easy letter-formation demonstrations.

Each Alphabet Book focuses on an environment that is common to a child’s world: home, school, and store. Encourage children to talk about their experiences in each place, using the vocabulary from these books as much as possible. This will promote greater comprehension and retention of new words and skills. 

Your conversation during Alphabet Book sharing is critical. This is the perfect time to encourage oral language development. Explicit talk and questioning about each book will encourage children to make connections to their own experiences and become involved in the reading. This is the time to explain unfamiliar concepts and teach new vocabulary.

Letter_Buddies_VAlphabet_Books_SpreadThoughtful questions and comments will also help children focus on different aspects of letter knowledge. Here are some ways that you can use the Alphabet Books:

  • Talk about the features of the lowercase and uppercase versions of each letter.
  • Name the letters and give students practice naming the letters.

  • Talk about how certain letters are grouped together to form a word. Explain that there is a word under each picture naming what the object is.

  • Show that the letter at the top of the page is the same as the first letter in the word below.

  • Demonstrate and practice alphabetical order using the picture glossary.

  • Engage in storytelling and conversation while playing the I-Spy game included.
  • Finger-trace the letters to demonstrate formation using verbal directions from the Child Talk Table (see below). 

Child_Talk-1

Child_Talk-2

For more ideas, be sure to check out the suggested activities provided at the end of each Alphabet Book!

Add to your collection! Have your students create a class alphabet book (or try it individually). Start the year with a large, empty book with at least one blank page per letter. Each time you have a read-aloud, ask the children to identify 2 or 3 items from the story to be placed in the class alphabet book. 

Alphabet books can also be used to teach initial sounds. Each page of the alphabet books uses a letter to introduce something with the corresponding beginning sound. The items introduced will be familiar to children from the context of home, school, or store. To further help children learn the correspondence between letters and initial sounds, we have included a free 23-page downloadable set of initial-sound worksheets at the bottom of the page.


Learn about our Letter Buddies line of letter-learning products for early childhood by clicking here to visit our website or clicking the image to the left below to download information sheet on Letter Buddies Alphabet Books for letter learning! To download the free worksheets, click the image to the right.

 New Call-to-Action Letter Buddies Initial Sounds Worksheets

Read More

Topics: Letter Buddies, Alphabet Books, Letter Learning

Letter Learning Made Fun! Silly Hats & Greg Smedley

Posted by Greg Smedley on Jul 10, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Today, we bring you a guest blog post from Greg Smedley, whose Teacher Spotlight activity was a big hit! He returns today and next week with more fun kindergarten activities for letter learning. For more from Greg, come back next week, and be sure to check out his blog in the meantime!

Silly Hats!

One of the first academic skills my students learn every year is their letters. I always set a goal that a majority of my students will know all of their letters and most of their sounds by the end of October. I am always pleased at the end of October when my students have met this challenge. Of course, there will be students who need more time and practice with their letters and that’s OK!  I make sure they get plenty of small-group practice, one-on-one practice, and independent practice in centers!

We use art, music, and some flash-card-type drills to learn our letters. Now, I must admit I don’t do anything in a traditional way. I’m what some people would call eccentric! So, for our daily letter review I use a PowerPoint. All upper- and lowercase letters are included and are mixed in a random order that I change every day. I add in a fun sound effect, and we quickly run through the PowerPoint. This is a quick and different way to go over our letters every day. 

When introducing a new letter or sound, I have another trick up my sleeve. This is something that myself and my students have become quite famous for. When we learn a new letter or sound, we always kick off our learning with a silly hat! Yes, you heard me! A silly hat!

hat collage

Here’s how our silly hat lesson works:

hippo hat resized 600Let’s say we are introducing the letter H. H stands for hippopotamus, so we will be making a hippopotamus hat. To get my students thinking in terms of H, we start the lesson with a circle map.  In the middle of the circle I write Hh. The students then turn to each other and brainstorm words that begin with H. After two minutes or so of sharing, they turn back to the chart and we share our H words. After we have shared our words, we use our Letter Buddies book for H to see if we missed any H words.  We add any missing words to our chart. The great thing about the Letter Buddies books is that they often trigger the students to think of more words for our letter! I always make sure that we include the word for our hat! For example, on our H chart, I want to make sure we have the word hippopotamus!

After we complete our chart, I model to the students how to color and assemble their hat. And then the highlight of the morning: I step behind the curtain and slip on my completed hat! I make a big production of revealing our hat! My students love seeing the letter hat on the teacher. And yes, I wear my hat all day! Talk about motivating students! As they get to work on their hat, I can start pulling small groups. The hats serve as a great hook to get students excited about the letter and sound you want them to focus on. The hats act as a great conversation starter when the students are out and about in the building. This allows them the opportunity to share why they have hippo hats on their heads and allows them an opportunity to explain their learning, which is an integral part of the Common Core! These hats are a quick, fun and silly way to introduce letters and sounds to your students!

describe the image  describe the image describe the image

Z for Zipper                                    Y for Yak!                                N for nest!

 

~~~

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 another guest blog post next week! Check back to see what other fun activities he has in store. If you'd like to learn about our Letter Buddies Letter Books that partially inspired this activity, you can download the series highlights below!

 

New Call-to-Action
Read More

Topics: K-2 Literacy, Common Core, Letter Buddies, Greg Smedley, Alphabet Books, Kindergarten, Creative Activities

Teacher Spotlight: Learning the Alphabet with Greg Smedley

Posted by Greg Smedley on Jun 26, 2013 8:00:00 AM

describe the image

gregsmedleyWelcome 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.

Letter Hunt

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! 

letter hunt

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.

letter buddy books

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.

letter hunt 2

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.

letter buddyhunting letters

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!

New Call-to-Action

* Hameray offers magnetic letters here.

Read More

Topics: Teacher Spotlight, K-2 Literacy, Letter Buddies, Greg Smedley, Alphabet Books, Kindergarten

Learning About Letters: Teaching the Alphabet

Posted by Tara Rodriquez on May 24, 2013 6:00:00 AM

describe the imageFor the last installment of our three part series on teaching children about letters and their corresponding sounds, today we will take a look at teaching the alphabet itself (you can read the earlier posts here and here). Research suggests that the best way to teach students the alphabet is in the context of meaningful activities. Emergent readers often have many hours of exposure to the alphabet before they begin to know the letters. Reading alphabet books is one of the recommended ways for students to get this exposure. This post offers some examples of ways in which alphabet books can be used to maximum effect for teaching students the alphabet. The ideas listed here come from the Letter Buddies Teacher's Guide, but can be adapted to work with other alphabet books.

Letter Buddies Alphabet Books are great resources that encourage young children to begin learning the alphabet. The large format, lap book size (12” x 16”) encourages conversation and interaction by all children in a whole or small group setting. During alphabet book sharing, children can learn about letter features, letter names, and letter sounds. The large letters in the corner of each page allow for easy letter formation demonstrations.

describe the imageEach Alphabet Book focuses on an environment that is common to a child’s world—home, school, and store. Encourage children to talk about their experiences in each place, using the vocabulary from these books as much as possible. This will promote greater comprehension and retention of new words and skills.


Working with the Alphabet Books

Your conversation during Alphabet Book sharing is critical. This is the perfect time to encourage oral language development. Explicit talk and questioning about each book will encourage children to make connections to their own experiences and become involved in the reading. This is the time to explain unfamiliar concepts and teach new vocabulary.

Thoughtful questions and comments will also help children focus on different aspects of letter knowledge. You can use the Alphabet Books to:

  • describe the imageTalk about the features of the lowercase and uppercase version of each letter.
  • Finger trace the letters to demonstrate formation using verbal directions (table available in Teacher's Guide)
  • Name the letters and give students practice naming the letters.
  • Talk about how certain letters are grouped together to form a word.
  • Explain that there is a word under each picture naming what the object is.
  • Show that the letter at the top of the page is the same as the first letter in the word below.
  • Demonstrate and practice alphabetical order using the picture glossary.
  • Engage in storytelling and conversation while playing the I-Spy game included.
  • Add to your collection! Have your students create a class alphabet book (or try it individually). Start the year with a large, empty book with at least one blank page per letter. Each time you have a read-aloud, ask the children to identify 2 or 3 items from the story to be placed in the class alphabet book.

For more ideas, be sure to check out the suggested activities provided at the end of each alphabet book! For other similar topics, check out the earlier posts in this series. To see what other early literacy products we offer, you can download our catalog by clicking the image below. More info on the Alphabet Books is available on the key features sheet below.

- Tara Rodriquez

Hameray 2016 Catalog Request    New Call-to-Action

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Topics: K-2 Literacy, Letter Buddies, Alphabet Books, Early Childhood

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