Letter a Day

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Due to many requests for how I teach a letter a day for the first month of school for an alphabet overview, I am going to post my lesson plans for the first month of school.

Each say will start out with "Do you have an (letter) in your name?" This refers to the pocket chart activity that we do every day. We do it whole group, calling up one kids at a time in the beginning and then after 10 days or so, the kids come in and put their name on the correct side independently.

I also do the alphabet chart almost every day in the beginning of the year. The chart I use is from Lakeshore.

I found similar charts at www.stepstoliteracy.com - click here . I like them because they also read left to right. These charts have the matching Student Alphabet Cards. We start out just saying the letter name 2 times as we point to the capital and lowercase of each letter and then say the picture. After a few weeks, we switch to pointing to the letters and saying the letter name, the letter sound and then the picture. Unfortunately, the small charts have been discontinued from Lakeshore. I highly recommend making some type of small chart to match your large chart so the kids can point to the letters as we say the chant. ( or email Lakeshore and tell them to bring the small charts back:)

Of course, I do Morning Meeting and Calendar every day. You can read more about that in those sections of my website.

The first few days of school are spent reviewing rules and procedures. We spend a lot of time doing that. We also spend a lot of time getting to know each other. This helps a lot with the rules part.

There are so many great books that we read the first few days of school. I have listed a few of my favorites below.

There will be some book projects that I will refer to often during these beginning days. The first project is the Colors Book. Click here to see the Colors Book.

Two other books I will refer to are from www.kinderlit.com. I use the Nursery Rhyme book and Colors Colors I See Colors.

We do the pages from all of these books on the days that they fit in with the theme. I save them and then collate and staple them together when all of the pages are complete.

I also do a page or 2 from the the Alphabet Art book. Click here to see the Alphabet Art book

Another great book from www.kinderlit.com is The Kindergarten Keepsake Book. This is a great benchmark assessment and I love how it show how much the kids have progressed during the school year.

We usually start school the day after Labor Day. This is our Orientation Day where parents come to school with their parents. I read The Kissing Hand by Penn. They go on a Scavenger Hunt looking for things around the room and practicing routines. I go over a lot of notes with the parents. The parents help their child complete the page for the "Who's Who in Mrs. Sloane's Class." I also take a picture of the child with whoever brought them to orientation. I use that photo for the Kissing Hand Book.

On Day 2 of school (it's really the first day by themselves), we don't really spend too much time doing projects. We are doing name games and setting up of rules and practicing routines. I expect my students to be independent young learners, so I give them the tools to be just that. We make the first day of school magnet.

First Day of School Magnets

Make these great magnets with your students on the first day of school. Type up this little poem and put it in a card to send home with the magnets.
I made this special magnet
On the very first day
So that my (grade level) work
Will always be on display!

Use any cut out to tape or glue to a wooden clothespin. The CTP boy and girl calendar cutouts work well. You can also use any die-cut shape. I used the Bitty Body die from Sizzex (the small personal die cut machine available at most craft stores.)

Have your students decorate the shape and the just tape (use double sided) or tacky glue the shape on a wooden clothespin. Put magnetic tape on the other side of the clothespin.

On the 3rd Day of school we go looking for the Gingerbread Man. We do many different activities for this. My favorite part is reading many different versions of The Gingerbread Man. I have listed many different versions below. The favorite in 2005 was The Matzah Man. It had a surprise ending that they loved.

We do Gingerbread Man activities on day 3 and 4. We add the Gingerbread Man Chant to our Weekly Poetry Folder.

Gingerbread Man Hunt - Early in the school year, we tour the school by looking for the Gingerbread man. To slow the kids down, each school helper rubber stamps the child's "Passport" that list the locations we visited. The inside of the Passport says: "The principal of (school name) hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the student named herein to pass without delay or hindrance."

At the last location we visit, the Gingerbread Man leaves us some cookies to eat. We take 1 bite and then graph which body part we ate first.

We also made our September calendar a gingerbread man.

I send home 2 class books that go with the gingerbread theme. For both books I use photos I took of the the children holding the gingerbread man stuffed animal (double prints). For the first book the child just writes his/her name in the rhyme and draws a picture of himself/herself chasing the gingerbread man.

The other class book is teacher made. I use the Frank Schaffer Gingerbread Cutouts. The text is "I'm gingerbread (name). Catch me if you can." It is based on the book Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.

For the gingerbread man we sometimes make prints using cookie cutters. If you don't make the gingerbread man on the calendar we just decorate the gingerbread cutout. You can also do the Gingerbread Man Glyph.

We now start our alphabet study on Day 5 (the first Monday.) For the letter Aa we start with the Pocket Chart activity "Do You Have an a in your name?" We sing the "Alphabet Forward and Backwards" from Dr Jean's Keep on Singing and Dancing CD. We practice printing the letter 'Aa' and make ink ants in our the Alphabet Art book.

For the Letter Bb, we start with the Pocket Chart activity "Do You Have a Bb in your name?" We do the Blue Dots in the kinderlit Colors Colors book. We make Blue Block Prints in our athe Alphabet Art book. Because we have read Blueberries for Sal we pretend to be counting blueberries by counting blue unifix cubes in Cool Whip tubs. Don't forget to make the "kerplink" sound. We do a Bb printing sheet.

For Cc day our theme is Clothes. We make the class book Mary Wore Her Red Dress (see Class Book section). We do a Modeling Writing or Interactive Writing chart listing different types of clothing. We do the Pocket Chart activity "Do You Have a Cc in your name" and practice printing Cc. In the the Alphabet Art book we make car tracks. We also do different counting games. You can work on 1-to-1 correspondence using the left and right mats (the red in the right.)

For the letter D we start with the Pocket Chart activity "Do You Have a Dd in your name?" We do the "Hey Diddle Diddle" page from the kinderlit Nursery Rhyme book. We play the game "Diddle Diddle Dumpling" like "Doggie Doggie Where's Your Bone?" see Circle Time Games section. We do a Dot Design in the the Alphabet Art book and we practice printing Dd.

On the 9th day, we combined the letters Ee and Ff. You can choose which one you want to do in the pocket chart. For the the Alphabet Art book we do Elbow Painting and glue down Feathers. We print Ee and Ff. We add the poems "Diddle Diddle Dumpling" and "Dickory Dickory Dare" to the Weekly Poetry Folder.

Day 10's theme is the color Green. Of course we read Little Blue and Little Yellow. Each child is given a piece of blue and a piece of yellow play dough (give each table a big hunk and have them try to figure out how to evenly divide the dough). The kids mash their pieces together until it make green. We sing "The Green Grass Grew All Around." We make the green grass page from the Colors book. This is also a good time to introduce Dr Jean's wonderful song "The Color Farm" from Sing to Learn. The kids will soon be spelling all of the color words. For the the Alphabet Art book the kids paint with glitter glue and we practice printing the letter Gg. Don't forget the name pocket chart activity. We can also play the game "Red Light, Green Light."

On the 11th day I combine the letter Hh and Ii. For Alphabet Art we do Hand Prints and Ink Stamping. We make Humpty Dumpty for the kinderlit Nursery Rhyme book. One of the kids favorite songs is "Humpty Dumpty" from Jack Hartmann's Rhymin' to the Beat. Actually, we are singing most of the songs on this CD during the first month. We do puzzles and some matching math games. You could also do the Humpty Dumpty project from www.tlclessons. See Circle Time Games Nursery Rhymes.

The next day combines J and K. We mostly focus on J. We do the pocket chart activity for one of the letters. We practice printing J and K. In the the Alphabet Art book we do Jazzy J's and Key Rubbings. In the Kinderlit Nursery Rhyme Book we do the Jack Be Nimble and the Jack and Jill page. Jack Hartmann has a great version of "Jack and Jill" on Rhymin' to the Beat Vol 1. We also insert student's names into the rhyme that is written out in sentence strips in the pocket chart. Whatever child we say, gets to jump over a candle.

The next day we focus on the letter L. We practice printing Ll and the pocket chart for "Do you have and L in your name?" We do the Mary Had a Little Lamb page from the Kinderlit Nursery Rhyme book. Just for the fun of it we do Little Miss Muffet from www.tlclessons.com Nursery Rhymes book. Look for a photo of it in my Nursery Rhyme Activities section. We also review Letters and read some alphabet books.

On the next day we focus on the letter M. We do the "Do you have a M in your name?" pocket chart and practice printing the letter Mm. We do money rubber stamps in the the Alphabet Art book. The Nursery Rhymes for the day are "Little Miss Muffet" and "Three Blind Mice." We do the Kinderlit Little Miss Muffet page. The TLC lessons project "Three Blind Mice" is also done on this day. See the photo in my Nursery Rhyme Activities section.

For the next day we combine the letters N and O. We do the name pocket chart and practice printing N and O. We study the color orange. We make the orange carrot in the Color Poem book. In the the Alphabet Art book we cut out newspaper numbers and make O prints (toilet paper rolls dipped in paint.) We also do the orange page in the Kinderlit Colors Colors Book.

P is the letter we study the next day. We do the name pocket chart and practice printing the letter P. In the the Alphabet Art book we make purple potato prints. We make the TLC Lessons Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater. For the Color Poem Little book we make the purple plum. For this week, we will also be focusing on the shapes. We will make a shape book based on the old traditional poem.

I am Mama Circle shaped like a pie.
I am baby triangle, three sides have I.
I am papa square, my sides are 4.
I am uncle rectangle shaped like a door.

For each page, the kids cut out the shape ( after tracing a template) and turn it into the person. It is a 4 page book with a cover. On this day we do mama circle.

I combine the letters Q and R. The only thing we do for Q is practice printing. We do the pocket chart activity "Do you have an R in your name?" We focus on the color red and rectangles. We make the red cherry pie for the Color Poem Book. This is why we read Lois Ehlert Pie in the Sky. We make red bubbles for the Kinderlit Colors Colors Book. I do a math lesson about rectangles and read about rectangles. We finish up with Uncle Rectangle for the Shape Family Book. For a Nursery Rhyme we read "Rain Rain Go Away" and "It's Raining It's Pouring."

In the Alphabet Art Book we do Q-Tip painting and Rubbings. If there is time we do the TLC Art project of "Rub-a-Dub- Dub."

The next letter a day we study is S. We practice printing and do the pocket chart activity. We read the Nursery Rhymes "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Starlight Starbright." We make the "Twinkle Twinkle" page in the Kinderlit Nursery Rhyme book. For the Color Poem Book we do the blue sky page. In the the Alphabet Art book we do sponge painting. When I teach Full Day kindergarten I have time to do the Starlight Starbright TLC art project. We do the Papa Square from the Shape Family book.

The next letter a Day is T. We practice printing and do the pocket chart activity. The theme is time. "Hickory Dickory Dock" is the nursery rhyme that we read. We sing Dr Jean's "Hickory Dickory Dock" from her Sing To Learn CD. We make the cover for the Kinderlit Nursery Rhyme Books (it's the mouse going up the clock). In the Alphabet Art Book we make toothpick triangles. We complete the Shape Family Book by making Baby Triangle. If it is Friday, we put "Twinkle Twinkle" and "Hickory Dickory Dock" in our poetry folders.

The last week of A Letter a Day is spent practicing for our Nursery Rhyme Program a lot (see my Nursery Rhyme Section.) That is why you will not find as many activities for these days. If somehow we have not finished the Kinderlit Books and the Color poems book, we do that this week. Once the books are completed, I put all the pages together and we read the books to our friends all week long. We start the week with the letters U and V. We practice printing the letters. If the kids still need the practice we do the Pocket Chart name activity. Some years the kids do not need this any more and they are done with it. In the the Alphabet Art book we draw up arrows and make vegetable prints. We talk about how the color purple is also called violet. We make the color violet by mixing red and blue fingerpaint together. This paper is saved for the art project tomorrow.

The next day we study the letters W and X. We practice printing the letters. In the the Alphabet Art book we make waves (paint or crayon) and X's for "X Marks the Spot." We read Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Using the purple (violet) finger painting paper from yesterday we make Wild Things. I allow the kids a lot of time for this project because it is free art. The kids create their own "Wild Thing" using scraps from the scrap box. We keep practicing for the Nursery Rhyme program and sing lots of songs. In the Kinderlit Color Colors Book we do the White page.

For the letter Y we talk about the color yellow. We practice printing the letter Yy. In the the Alphabet Art book, we glue down yellow yarn. We are singing and practicing our Nursery Rhymes. If there is time, we do the TLC Lessons art project "London Bridge." We make the yellow pear in the Color Poem Book and make a yellow sun in the Kinderlit Colors Colors book.

We finish up with the letter Z. We practice printing it. We read books about snoring (zzzz.) In the Alphabet Art Book we make zig- zags. We are done with the book so we read it all together and review the letters. We put the "Colors Poem" and "The Shape Family" poem in the poetry folder. We invite the second graders down to our classroom to watch our dress rehearsal for out Nursery Rhyme program.

To finish off our letter of the week study we do our Nursery Rhyme Program. We will start doing a Letter a Week (using a balanced literacy approach) next week. We spend the day reading Nursery Rhyme Books and we take a little break and watch a Nursery Rhyme Video or DVD. Of course, we sing all of the songs from Jack Hartmann's Rhyming to the Beat Vol. 1 & 2. We read all of the books that we have made over the past few weeks to our friends.