Students need to know the English language alphabet is presented using 26 letters, one of the foundational skills of reading. Students must be able to recognize, name, and form these letters in order to read and write. Reading A-Z provides books, practice sheets, chants, friezes, flashcards, and bingo cards for every letter of the alphabet to ease repeated practice.
Recognition of the letters of the alphabet and knowing the sounds they make is one of the key predictors of reading success. Alone, each letter of the alphabet has limited value, but combinations of letters create words, the essence of written communication.
In order to read an alphabetic language like English, students must learn the alphabetic principle—that letter symbols represent sounds. This knowledge is a critical precursor to reading words, since words are merely a combination of the letters that can be used to represent a word's specific combination of sounds.
It is important to assess a student's knowledge of the alphabet at
the beginning of kindergarten and grade one in order to plan the
instruction needed. Accuracy and speed are both important, and both
should be assessed using Alphabet Letter Naming assessments.
The pace of introducing letters will vary from student to student. It is probably best to start with one letter per week. If students seem to have no trouble mastering one per week, you may want to try introducing more than one.
It is not enough to be able to recite the names of letters. Students must come to recognize their shapes. For preschool children and students lacking alphabet knowledge, don't teach upper- and lowercase at the same time. Start with uppercase letters, as it is easier to tell one uppercase letter from another.
Point out the similarities of features in letters—for example, the small circles that are found in the lowercase letters o, a, d, and b, as well as the lines used to form t, l, d, and b. Point out the common parts of letters like e and c, M and W, m and n, and P and R.
Students should recognize that letters are made by combinations of straight lines, curved lines, circles, and dots. For example, if you show them that the letter c is formed by making a curve, you can point out that d is formed by adding a straight line to c.
When it comes to teaching individual letters, avoid teaching, one after the other, letters that students confuse with each other. Make sure they have mastered one letter before introducing a visually similar letter. For example, don't closely follow the teaching of lowercase d with b or vice versa.
Focus on the most common sound for each of the letter symbols. Use picture words that begin with the sound, and have children recognize the sound by naming the picture. Be sure to segment the target sound and blend it back together.
For example, show students a picture of a bat. Ask: What is this? Repeat the word by emphasizing the /b/ sound. Have students repeat and place emphasis on the /b/. Associating the sound with a picture will help them remember the sound.
Try to teach a combination of consonants and vowels that permit early word formation. For example, by teaching b, a, and t first, you can form the words bat, at, and tab. Students can then blend and segment the words to practice the individual letter/sound relationships they have learned.
One of the best ways to teach letter shapes is to have students write the letters. The two most common forms of letter writing are Zaner-Bloser style and D'Nealian style. Whatever you teach, remain consistent with the method of letter formation you use.
Start children off with practice on unruled sheets of paper. Then introduce them to lined sheets. Reading A-Z has Letter Formation Practice Sheets available for downloading and printing. These worksheets are available in both Zaner-Bloser style and D'Nealian style.
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