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Alphabet letters

  • 1.  Alphabet letters

    Posted 10-10-2017 02:31 PM
    Hello Everyone,
    We have been having a lot of discussion at work about the best practice to teach the alphabet.  I have been teaching for 10 years and our policy has been if the child already knows how to write their name in uppercase and lowercase, we stick with that.  If the child doesn't know how to write his name then we teach all uppercase and introduce upper and lower after the first of the year.  What is the best practice for 4 year olds?

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    [Kim] [Richards]
    [4's lead teacher]
    First Years Community Preschool
    [Massillon [Ohio]
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  • 2.  RE: Alphabet letters

    Posted 10-11-2017 09:22 AM
    The alphabet is an abstract graphic for an abstract phoneme (sound) and
    makes no sense to young children. You have probably encountered children
    like Maria who was annoyed with Mark because he used her letter. Therefore
    probably the best strategy is repeated casual exposure. Some examples are as
    follows:
    Printing names on lockers and pointing out letters from time to time
    when children are arriving or leaving
    Using one of the many beautiful alphabet letter books every day and
    examining the pictures and letters. Limit to three or four letters a day.
    Public libraries have many of these.
    Using big books or other large print and point out selected letters and
    explain, briefly. "This is the letter M. It represents the sound mmm".
    Use signs on furniture or spaces that are meaningful for children and
    point out the letters from time to time
    Keep such instruction short but repeated. Children learn this in this
    order: Repeat the name of the letter, Point out or find the letter,
    Identify or name the letter.
    Printing letters is a physical task and is not the same as learning
    about letters. It requires lots of fine motor skills and is different task
    entirely.




  • 3.  RE: Alphabet letters

    Posted 10-11-2017 12:00 PM
    Kimberly,

    This goes so far back that I cannot tell you the source, but at least 10 years ago I read a very compelling paper that convinced me that children should always SEE their name written with an initial cap and the rest lowercase letters.  So their cubby label, a sign-in sheet if you use one, their center card, etc., etc. should all reflect that practice.  How they WRITE their name should be left up to them and where they are in their development.  So that children learn how to write their name upper/lower by seeing and copying a correct model, with the emphasis on their learning rather than teaching.
    Having said that, an example of how teachers assist children to learn that is that in the morning the teacher might be standing or sitting near the sign-in sheet, which has a model of their name and a place for them to copy their name.  While the child is writing, the teacher might say, "That's right, that next letter begins with a tall hump."  (See picture below.)
    Later in the year, the sign-in might be blank, with name cards nearby for those children who need that scaffolding, but providing the opportunity for any child who wants to, to try it on their own.
    Below are some examples.  THESE PHOTOS ARE NOT FOR PUBLICATION.  My thanks to Project Enlightenment in Raleigh, NC; Asheville (NC) Preschool; Sampson County NC Pre-K Program; Polk County, NC, Preschool Program.
    Explanation of attachments: (They look like maybe they are in reverse order; sorry what I don't know what to do about that.)
    1.  At the beginning of the year, children see their faces for their sign-in.  You can't see it here, but the popsicle sticks that the face shots are on have the child's name written on them at the bottom.
    2. Children "sign up" for their daily job by putting a name card - in upper and lower - in the pocket, which has a picture of the job as well as the name for support.
    3. Children have a picture, a model of their name, and the teacher's help to sign in.
    4. The picture support has disappeared, but the teacher is nearby!
    5. Children have lots of opportunities to see their names written correctly as they play with them.  (It's an old refrigerator door used as a magnetic surface; there are magnets on the back of the puzzle pieces.)
    6. Children find their names and mark through them to indicate they have completed a special activity.
    7. At center time, this child asked the teacher to help her practice her name.  Teacher provided model and support.
    8. Another way that children see their names as they sign in.  Later in the year this poster would be laminated and children would sign in with an erasable marker.
    9. Yet another way that children see their names (and those of their friends) as they explore the block corner.
    10. An authentic use for children's names.  NEEDING their names for a purpose increases the learning.  This was in March.
    11. Also in March.  Notice that the name cards are still there for a support if children want to use them.
    12. This is out of order.  Same classroom as before, but early in the year.  It is on the easel early in the year so that children get that development at the shoulder and arm movement.

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    Joseph Appleton
    Dayton VA
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  • 4.  RE: Alphabet letters

    Posted 10-11-2017 03:55 PM
    We've had this discussion at my program over the years also.  Just as letters represent phonemes, a person's name is a symbol representing a name.  4 year olds do not sound out their name.  Rather, they see their name as a unique shape that represents their name.  They should not be taught to write it in a way that is different from the way it is displayed.  It is not general practice to write an proper noun in all caps so if we teach children to write their name in all caps, they will have to unlearn it at some point.  Children should be exposed to their written name as often as possible and it should be written appropriately--capital first letter, lowercase for the rest of the name (except in cases where it is spelled with another capital--McCall).  Any and all attempts by a preschooler to write their name should be encouraged and praised.  However, if you are directly teaching how to write their name, it should be done in the generally appropriate format--Capital first letter, remaining letter lowercase.

    I know in my program, several years ago, there was talk about teaching capitals first because it's easier (Handwriting without Tears advocates for this).  Kindergarten teachers in my area were very frustrated with us and reported that children were frustrated in Kindergarten because the way we had taught them to write their name was not appropriate in Kindergarten and they had to re-learn how to write their names.  As a result, we continued with the idea that capital letters should be taught first except when teaching how to write one's own name.

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    Marjorie Vegoren
    Hamilton MT
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  • 5.  RE: Alphabet letters

    Posted 10-13-2017 10:24 AM
      |   view attached
    Hello...I agree with you! This is how I worked (teaching pre-kinder students). Now we have a good program called Fundations, we use it in Pre-Kinder and Kinder, to teache upper and lowercase simultaneously and it has worked wonders! We also work with Guided Reading so they have to know their letters well.....it´s great!! I think you should do whatever works best for your young students. In our case we have ESL learners....Love this discussion"!!!

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    Claudine Berges
    Preschool Principal
    Saint Patrick School of Santo Domingo
    Santo Domingo, D.N.
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  • 6.  RE: Alphabet letters

    Posted 10-22-2017 05:51 PM
    I realize it has been some time since this discussion began. I have not been able to respond sooner.
    The reason for knowing the alphabet is to read and write. As for children's names in various places in the room: When children were registered, I requested the parent bring the child with them. I did the paper work. The teacher assistant took the child to the different centers and engaged them in whatever they ere interested in. The teacher assistant also had the child pick out a picture which we had cut from three old teacher magazines. The child glued the picture on a name card. One was for the cubbie. One was for the helper chart and one was for the attendance chart which was a pocket chart  The top of the chart had the sentence, "I am here today." In the middle were the words, "I am not here today." When the child left the room he placed the name card under "I am not here today." When he came to the program the next day, he found his name and placed it at the top under, "I am here today." This was done daily. After some time as children began to recognize their names, the picture was cut off and they were able to keep the picture.

    For sending a small group to the washroom or for lining up I used a card with an alphabet letter. I said. "If your name begins with this letter, go wash your hands." After a few weeks I labeled the letter by saying "If your name begins with the letter "M". go wash your hands. And later I did not use the cards at all and simply gave the direction without a visual representation.

    In helping children relate alphabet letters with sounds I began with saying sentences like "Michael made mud pies." Michelle made marbles." "Sally saw shadows." Sam saw snakes." After we had been doing this for a couple of weeks. I then printed out the sentences. I asked the class if they noticed something about the words. Of course, the words began with the same letters. I used the first names of
    the children. And of course children were seeing the letters and words in dictations. This was making sense of why we need to learn the sounds and the letters.


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    Marie Kielty
    Early Childhood consultant
    Chicago, IL
    Kindergarten Interest Forum facilitator
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  • 7.  RE: Alphabet letters

    Posted 10-28-2017 03:07 PM
    I learned in a training that many teachers believe in teaching children their uppercase letters first, but it is more helpful to expose them to lower case letters more. When children see words in a book, the words are made up of mainly lower case letters. Their name is mostly lower case letters. In almost everything in their life, they will see more lowercase than upper case letters. So teaching them the lower case first is more beneficial to them and will make it easier for them to learn their letters.