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Here are a few ideas for developing sound-symbols recognition in your classroom. They can easily be adapted for home use:

1. Start with their names. Take a picture of each student in class via the digital or regular camera. Place their picture above the letter of the alphabet their name begins with. They will have an anchor sound they can relate to. When possible connect a new sound to the name of a parent or some close relative.

2. Letter each child's name on a flash card and/or chart (large enough for students to see from their seats). Place their names in alphabetical order in a pocket chart. Each day have a short activity with their names; e.g., find all the names that begin with a .... How many last names begin with... How many names have ... in their name? Use a colored marking pen for the first letter of their name. Talk about their names and children will begin to say, "Oh, m is in my name." "Yes, but it is not at the beginning..."

3.With the Morning Message use colored marking pens for all the words beginning with m; circle them, outline, underline , etc.

4. Make a large alphabet chart; for each letter place a picture that begins with that sound. Each day have the children recite in unison: "Aa apple, Bb bicycle, Cc cat, Dd dog etc." The children say each letter twice - once for the capital and once of the small letter and then the picture. This will give them an anchor sound and word for future study.

5. Read and sing Chica Chica Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Leo Lionni's AlphabetTree, A, My Name Is Alice, Jane Bayer, The Guinea Pig ABC by Date Duke, FaintFrogs Feeling Feverish by Lilian Obligado, Q is for Duck by Mary and Michael Fosom Elting.

6. Introduce individual sounds with poems and stories, e.g., for the sound of m tell the story of the Mitten Story. Caps for Sale is another good story for m. As you tell the story have the characters enter a large mitten. Sing songs such as "I Love Mud," "Mary Wore a Red Dress," and "The Muffin Man" and act it out. Recite the poem: "I Like Mice." Hold a mouse as you sing it. Recite "Two Little Apples [see below];" the last line give the sound of m. Jan Brett has a site which you can copy her animals.

7. Introduce a new sound with a nursery rhyme. For m "Mary Had a LittleLamb," "Little Miss Muffet" [picture], and "Mary, Mary Quite Contrary [picture]." Enlarge a nursery rhyme or poem and have the children circle all the words beginning with m.

8. Have the children form m words with magnetic letters: my, me, make, made. As you stretch out the word have them push the corresponding letter up on their magnetic board as they hear it. If they can't hear individual sounds make a sound board and tokens. As you show a picture and pronounce it, they have to put down as many tokens as they hear sounds. As you pronounce the word, they push the token ahead.

9. Create alphabet big books; read many ABC books. Make m pictures out of clay.

10. Have the children learn to write the letter as you teach the sound. Have them trace the letter on their desk, arm, back of their neighbor, on a piece of screen, with a marking pen on a white board.

11. When writing a whole-class, interactive story give a student a colored marking pen to either write the first letter of words beginning with m or write the entire word on the chart.

12. At the writing table have the students draw a picture or illustrate a story. Have them then write the letter that each object in the picture begins with either on top the objects or next to them.

13. Cut apart a big purchased chart, use clip art, or draw you own pictures for the next activity. Match pictures to the letters. You may want to give help in pairing by making the sets into puzzles. For extra help you may give them matching colored background.

14. Graph and sort matching letters. After the children know five letters, put the letters in large bold print at the top of a workable, individual chart. Have 25 corresponding pictures - 5 pictures for each sound. The children have to place the pictures under the corresponding letters.

15. Sing a well known song and change the words, e.g., to the tune of "If Your Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hand." If you have a m word share it now. (2 x) If you have a m word and you think it should be heard, If you have a m word, share it now..." Use it in conjunction with the word wall.

l6. Recite tongue twisters: Minny murtles miptoe in mall mulips. Tiny turtles tiptoe in tall tulips.

17. Read I Unpacked My Grandmother's Trunk by Susan Ramsy Hoguet. Then play the game "Going to Grandma's House." You have to pack the suitcase with objects beginning with m.

18. Associate food with the letters. For the letter m make a large open m and fill it with marshmallows. At snack time they can have clean ones to eat. ( For p they can use popcorn. Use other non edible material also; peas for p, sand for s, buttons for b.

19. Display a set of 4 or 5 pictures beginning with m and one not beginning with an m. Have them spy the picture that does not belong. Then orally give words and ask which doesn't belong. After they hear the initial consonant have the listen for the ending consonants and then finally ask them to listen for the middle consonant. Don't teach the letters in alphabetical order but study the easy ones first - s, m, t, etc. They do not have to know the alphabet before they start to read.

Scott Foresman published a book called Phonics Anytime! by Fitzsimmons, Briggs, and Sycamore. For every letter they have a rhyme and an activity for the students. Suggestions are given to the teacher for other activities such as Tongue Twisters and other oral activities, games, writing activities and different phonetic manipulative activities.

For every letter of the alphabet there are umpteen stories, poems, songs, nursery rhymes, and games to play and stories to be written. Learning should be fun; not a boring drill.

Contributed by Mary DeFalco, Language Arts Specialist

"Two Little Apples"
Two little apples, hanging in a tree
Two little apples, smiling at me
I shook that tree as hard as I could
And DOWN came the apples
Mmm, Mmm good
ABC Links
Alphabet Recognition Poems - These poems were designed to help children learn the upper and lower case letters of the alphabet.

Print and Play Worksheet Games - Download the Alphabet to Print & Practice later! Make Your Own Worksheets! Practice Sheets, with all kinds of designs, that can also be used as Stationery.