Recognizing the importance of developing essential skills for reading and writing, we aim to present letters and sounds to students in a way that is both meaningful and student-driven.
Be inspired to Co-Construct an alphabet with your students.
We began by introducing each child’s written name and identifying as a group the first letter and sound. Once familiar with each name in the class, we proceeded to co-construct an alphabet with the students. We wanted to engage them in all aspects of the development of this project, from first painting a background with watercolours, to attaching letters to each card, then ordering the letters as a group, proceeding to photograph environmental images, and having students determine their placement on the alphabet.
Making it Meaningful
With the background intact, photographs of the children’s faces acted as a provocation in order to make this a relevant and meaningful experience. Students discussed what letter each photograph should be placed on the alphabet based on the beginning sound of each name. This proved to be an effective strategy as they brought with them a strong connection to their name and the names of friends. Environmental images were then photographed at the request of the children. As the students collaborated in building their alphabet, they in turn built upon their phonemic awareness and extended their language development.
Engage and Explore
By giving children access to all letters and sounds and not limiting them to one letter a week, they were granted the freedom to engage, explore, and express themselves in many authentic ways. The alphabet they constructed is posted at student eye level at the Graphic Communication centre and acts as a key resource for them while at work.
This alphabet was co-constructed during our students Junior Kindergarten year. As these students moved in to Senior Kindergarten the following year they were situated in a neighbouring classroom. This alphabet moved with them and was placed in the Graphic Communication centre awaiting their arrival. The relationship each student had with the alphabet they themselves had created was evident as they arrived in their new classroom, and exclaimed “OUR alphabet is here!” Their excitement, once again, reaffirmed the power in providing meaningful opportunities for student learning.