Like all of my teacher and blog friends, I cannot believe the end of summer is almost here and that back-to-school season is upon us once again. I have been teaching a summer enrichment class for the kinders at my school to keep them fresh for First Grade. One skill that I introduced in class this summer has been the concept of ABC order. This can be a BIG concept for six year olds to wrap their mind around but we started very small. And if you know anything about me, you will not be surprised to hear that I made the experience INTERACTIVE for my little learners.
I'm so excited to share these activities with you, I'm giving the my ABC Order set away as a FREEBIE! Click the cover image to download, and keep reading for some fun ideas to help you use the activity sheets in class.
Start with Individual Letters
When I was ready to introduce the concept and skill of ABC order, we started simple. The class gathered on the carpet and talked about the alphabet: which letters are at the beginning of the alphabet and which letters go way at the end of the alphabet. Then I wrote the alphabet across the whiteboard (nice and low so they could easily focus on it) and I added 3 magnetic letters to the whiteboard. I demonstrated how I use the alphabet as a reference to put letters in ABC order. Then the kids helped me put 3 new magnets in ABC order. Then we tried 4 magnets, then 5 magnets! When everyone was looking comfortable with the concept and the task at hand, it was time to let the students give it a try on their own.
To make the activity fun and motivating, we used foam letters. I have all kinds of foam letters in my classroom so we used 2 different styles of foam letters. This helped the students focus on each small group of letter separately (instead of feeling overwhelmed by the sight of 11 different letters).
To keep things running smoothly during class time, I prepared the letters for students to use before class. I placed enough of each type of foam letter in foam cups for students to complete the activity (being careful to avoid duplicates). When it was time to work, each student received a cup and was ready to go!
If the foam letters seem a little too ambitious for your busy classroom, no need to worry! I have included a set of cutting pages for each activity sheet in the ABC Order FREEBIE download. Here is an example: The actual pages are all blackline masters. I just added the pink lines to the picture file to make it easier for you see.
From Letters to Words
Once my students had success arranging individual letters in ABC order, they were ready for WORDS! For this activity, we used paper cutouts of words. This was a big step and I didn't want my students to get mixed up by all of the letters they saw in each word. I also wanted to keep the activity engaging to them (and let's face it-cut & paste can get a little dull sometimes). To combat both of these issues, we used highlighters! Kinders & Firsties love using highlighters and they are excellent for drawing the eye to important details.
I started this lesson by explaining that “big kids and grown-ups” put words (not just letters) in ABC order. Young children are always eager to learn big people skills and I knew I would have my kiddos hooked with those 5 little words.
I told the class that we just need to look at the first letter in each word when we place them in ABC order. I also explained that we would be using a special tool to help us focus on the first letter. Then I took out the highlighters. I wish you could have seen my students' eyes light up! They LOVE using highlighters. Using the highlighter, I demonstrated how to color just the first letter of each word. I also highlighted those same letters in the alphabet displayed above the gluing area on the worksheet and pointed out that the letters highlighted on the alphabet showed the order for gluing the words. When I asked “Easy, right?” everyone nodded enthusiastically, eager to get their hands on a highlighter and begin.
Thanks to the helpful highlighters, this activity was another success. Very few children needed assistance from me. As I floated around the classroom to observe everyone's progress, I was pleasantly surprised to see how easily students grabbed onto this activity and ran with it!
Avoid Confusion with Font Variety
The cutting pages for each ABC Order activity have been designed to minimize student confusion and frustration. Each set of letters/words to be alphabetized are connected on the page to provide a visual prompt for the items that belong together. A different font is used for each set on the page as an addition cue for cutting, arranging, and pasting.
Download the FREEBIE
ABC Order is a big skill for students to initially grasp, but with the right scaffolding and some fun learning tools, it is a concept that can be introduced at the end of Kindergarten, especially to those shining stars that are ready for an extra challenge. Don't forget to grab my ABC Order FREEBIE for some motivating and interactive activities to help you introduce the concept in your classroom!
Do you use foam letters in your classroom? Organize them to find the right letter in a hurry without having to dig. Teachers don't have a lot of free time to sit around sorting letters, but this is a great activity for a classroom volunteer.