Alphabet knowledge matters. While a child doesn’t technically need to know the letters of the alphabet to learn to read, we’ve learned through our research and the data from our thousands of readers there is a direct correlation between how well a child can recognize letters and learn sounds.
Until a child learns how to identify letters automatically, they will have difficulty in matching sounds to letters, identifying initial and final sounds and blending sounds together.
How To Adapt The Alphabet Blocks Activity
Part of teaching a child is differentiating the instruction of an activity so that it is appropriate for the child’s level. A new activity should be just outside of their ability to make it a suitable reading practice experience, rather than a lesson in frustration. For example, if a child doesn’t know the alphabet, then completing the lesson in the video isn’t yet a realistic expectation. Rather, work with chunks of 4-5 letters at a time (see below for appropriate chunking of letters). Begin with the first group of letters and as each group becomes secure, add on the next group until all seven groups are learned. You could also write the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper and have the child match the blocks to the letters.
To break the letters into chunks, we recommend the following order:
More Ways To Develop A Child’s Alphabet Knowledge
- Adapt the activity in the video by using Duplo or Lego to encourage fine motor development
- Build an alphabet chain with the child, taking turns adding a letter
- For children who are having some difficulty with printing, point out the where the letters sit on a line (tall, hanging below, or in the middle) just like they would when the letters are being written down
- Sing the alphabet song
- Talk about the letters in a child’s name
- Look for the letters in the environment (e.g., while walking or on a road trip)
- Play Ooka Island
- Play with letter blocks and plastic letters
- Build letters out of materials (e.g., playdough, pipe cleaners, finger paint, etc.)
In a recent TDSB summer school program with 544 children, 93% of students knew their alphabet, which is to be expected at the end of grade one. However, 7% still showed difficulty in the alphabet activity on Ooka Island and were sent our Alphabet Support Kit to help them solidify their knowledge.
Great Books For Developing Alphabet Knowledge