Saturday, August 21, 2010

Literacy Activities for the First Weeks of School

Our year is just getting started and most of what we've done so far is getting to know each other, our school and learning about the materials and centers in our classroom. It takes a while for kids to get to know the expectations of a new teacher and a new class, so I've tried to wade slowly into the academics. I want my friends to have fun and not be overwhelmed. I try to help each student feel that they have a special place in our classroom community.

One of the activities that we do during the first week of school is to make an ABC poster of the names in our classroom. I'll leave this up all year.

Initially, the students were asked to put their name card by the letter their name started with and we all made the letter sound and clapped the syllables of each name. Later, we'll go back and count the number of students who start with "J" or find a friend that starts with the letter "D" or other little games.

One of the girls mentioned at circle time that her name began with a "T". The kids all began to share words that started with the "T" sound. One child wrote the letter in the air, so we decided to take turns writing the letter on the whiteboard.

Since we don't do a "Letter of the Week",  I have to really try to make sure I get in all the skills that I would do in our everyday curriculum. Often that means grabbing a "teachable moment" and running with it. The kids really love to have turns to come up and write on the teacher whiteboard, so I try to give them opportunities to do so.

Last week, Teach Preschool shared "Sand Tray Prep" from What Do You Do All Day?. It had been raining on and off for a couple of days and our playground was wet. When I saw the post, I knew I had to take advantage of all that wet sand. I set up trays at center time and we practiced drawing letter shapes in the sand.

 The kids also enjoy squirting the water to keep the sand moist. I think they thought they were getting one over on me by convincing me to allow them to use the squirters independently, but what they don't know is I was counting on that--working the sprayer is great fine motor practice!

This quickly became a very popular activity. I need to get a few more trays so it doesn't limit some of the other things kids do with the trays (art, finger painting, glitter, etc.). I'll admit, it was a little messy, and I'm brainstorming ways to eliminate so much of the spill off, especially because our classroom is carpeted. 

Finally, I want to share a little item I bought for my nephew's birthday. I'm not usually an advocate for video games, but this seemed like the neatest little learning tool. He can get fine motor practice and literacy practice all in one fun activity and take it anywhere! It's called the LeapFrog Scribble and Write. I hope he likes it!

LeapFrog Scribble and Write


  1. I might have to get Dawson one of those. Looks fun! Good for car rides too! The sand is such a fun way to practice writing...I'm sure the kids loved it!

  2. Love these ideas!! Have a great school year!

  3. Great ideas - The sand letter writing is such a great activity!

  4. My kids LOVE writing on the white board/easel as well. I like your ABC poster. I'm thinking about having a letter wall this year with the alphabet and words we use a lot to go into the letter categories.
    Thanks for the ideas!

  5. Love those letter Ts! And I love writing in the sand. Thanks for the reminder.


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