Rethinking Alphabet Charts

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Check out this alphabet chart. H is for chicken, Q is for people, R is for flower, S is for dessert, J is for drink, N is for spaghetti and Q is for queue. What???

This chart (and many like it) illustrate the fact that no purchased alphabet chart matches the vocabulary or experiences of all children . . . so save your money and engage your students and your school community in the experience of making their own unique classroom alphabets.

Here’s how:

  • Release the idea of an alphabet chart; the chart format is too crowded for young learners and it’s difficult to see by anyone other than the students who sit very close to it.
  • Create a classroom space – at child height – to place alphabet cards. Measure a  section of wall long, enough to hold 26 alphabet cards, with space below for 2-3 images representing each picture .
  • Take your students on regular “community alphabet walks” to search for and then photograph or draw for the names of local objects, locations, plants or people that begin with a certain letter. Place these images below each letter.
  • Make these images meaningful by including them in science, health, math and language arts lessons.
  • Add / replace pictures over time.
  • Remember that there’s no need to begin with A and end with Z; add images as they are discovered. Watching the alphabet “grow” will enhance a student’s ability to visualize alphabetical order. For example:
    • as the image is placed under a letter, compare the placement of that letter with the other letters of the alphabet. Is this letter at the beginning, middle or end of the alphabet? What letter is before it? What letter is after it?
  • Every once in awhile, create new letter cards with a different font. This encourages children to experience one of the many ways that written language is flexible.

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About Beyond The Apple

Beyond the Apple provides everything a Professional Learning Community needs! Designed to follow Beyond the Apple's Tenets of Adult Education, our videos re-ignite the excitement of professional conversations among educators in the classroom, university, colleges and professional training. Our free teaching and learning resources provide a follow up with more information that is current, research based and practical.
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