Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Learning my Letters! {Balanced Literacy for Little Learners}

Hi friends!! I want to thank y'all so much for your response to Jackson's fundraiser! I'll be putting together the file by Friday and have it uploaded for sale this weekend. I'm so excited. I hope we can raise a lot of money for Jackson and his family!!

Tonight I wanted to share what I've been doing with my own son Jackson at home. I mentioned last week that my little man has shown me several signs that he is SO ready to learn his alphabet so I'm developing a curriculum for him. What's really cool about this curriculum is that he does it with me with modifications obviously (he doesn't have the fine motor skills to cut, paste and trace yet but we are working on it) but I also use it with my pre K nephew Hank. Many of the activities would be perfect for pre K and kinder age students to do independently. Here's how I've broken it down:

This format is very similar to my old kindergarten plans. Of course with my son, he is so young that our lessons are short, sweet and to the point. And if he's not feeling it we just take a break and come back to it. But for the most part, he is interested every time we get started. He is SO cute y'all. I know I am totally bias but he knows the routine now with the big book. He pulls up his little chair (my old classroom Author's Chair) and sits while I point and read the big book. After reading it several times he starts to read with me. As he progresses I'll be able to do things like add complexity to the big book, use highlighter tape to highlight different letters or word parts and do guess the covered word activities (way down the road). 

This is part of the matching student booklet. He reads it with me, colors the pictures and I helped him circle the letter A. Again, his fine motor skills aren't quite there to make a circle so I help him with that. I think we will start using highlighters soon.

Look at that face! :)

We do a letter sort. I show him a letter and ask him, "Is this an A?" And he tells me yes or no and puts it in the pocket chart. This took some practice!! It was a hard concept for him at first but he caught on after a while. 

This is a letter sort that I helped him complete.

We also used Play Doh to create capital and lowercase letter As. I rolled the dough and Jackson helped me put the dough on the mat and squish it. He loved this part!

On the bottom of the mat I wrote in the letter A with dry erase. I had him watch me make the letter A to model writing. Writing is very exploratory with Jackson right now. He is able to grasp a crayon and scribble and I encourage that very much. I don't expect him to trace yet but I am making sure that he sees me writing all the time.

I also took out the magnetic letters. I put an assortment of lowercase letters in front of Jackson and told him to put the "a"s on the bottom of the page. We practiced sorting through the letters to find the letter a. He did very well with this. I was impressed!!

I modified the mats and added an apple to use as an anchor for the letter a sound.

We also sing our "Letter A Song" every day. I wrote it on chart paper, here is the song all typed up.

Eventually this poem will go into his ABC songs book. I didn't print the cover page yet because my printer is low on ink...grr!

I'm going to have Jackson color this page and I'll staple it to the front of a folder.

For more practice I made a letter hunt and letter match page for Jackson and I to do together.

I'm also creating an ABC book with Jackson. I've already started this book with my nephew Hank.

This one came out pretty messy but appropriate for a little one. The letter A on the page is chunky so you can have kids color it in, tear paper and glue it in or use dot markers to paint it in. I helped my nephew tear paper and glue it down on this page. He traced the letter A on the top. The cover is stapled to the front of a folder and all the letter pages are inside.

Now learning the alphabet wouldn't be fun without some art! Here we made a handprint letter A. I am going to save the handprints and use them to decorate our playroom/classroom. 

Here is our apple man. This was more mommy made because cutting is not appropriate for Jackson at this point. But I used it as a puppet as we sang our song! :)

Here are some other art activities we did:

On the top left you'll see our watercolor artwork. I had Jackson paint a capital and lowercase A with watercolor paints (he LOVES to paint). I'm saving these letters to create our own alphabet frieze in the playroom. :) 

I also created a little A book for Jackson to practice with. This is our very modified version of guided reading. In the picture above my nephew Hank is finding the letter A and reading the book with me. 

I'm a firm believer in balanced literacy. The balanced literacy framework is the basis for the curriculum I'm building for Jackson. All of the pieces of his curriculum fit into the balanced literacy model. Writing is the only exception here. At this stage my little learner (and most Pre K and K kiddos) is still in an exploratory phase of writing. I make sure to model writing for him and guide him in appropriate writing activities (such as making circles, holding his crayon and coloring in sections on a page). I also give him plenty of time to explore with crayons, markers and other writing instruments. 

When we are all done "working" Jackson LOVES to play with my magnets. 

I was excited about this curriculum when I created it but I am even more excited now. Jackson is seriously soaking everything up, it's AMAZING. Today on his little playground set, he moved these plastic blocks and said the name of each letter on the block to his Grandma. The letters were "P", "T" and "O". These are not letters I've explicitly taught him but we sing the ABC song often, read often and I'm sure he picked it up through our letter sorts and big book reading. I'm SO excited and proud of him!! The thing I love the most is how excited he seems about learning. *JOY!*

I am working on similar units for the letter B and C right now. I plan on creating the whole alphabet set. Once I have sets for A-F I'll begin sharing them in my TN and TpT store. Here's the cover pages I've done so far:

These are projects in the making. I hope to get as many done as possible before April 20th! That's Brandon's due date (baby number two). Eek!! 

Ok this is a ridiculously long post. If you have stuck with me this long, you are amazing!! Please let me know if you have any questions about these activities!

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