The most important word to a child is his/her name. Children usually learn the first letter of their names and of their friends’ names quite easily as they are significant to them. Names begin with capital letters, which makes them easy to memorize and to write as the majority of them have only straight lines and simple curves.
The first letters I start teaching my Pre-Ks are the initial letters in their names. My emphasis is the LETTER SOUNDS, as sounds is what we use to begin "decoding". The sounds will be put together to spell a word, which is called blending and blending sounds independently lead to decoding/reading a word. I usually explore the first letters of their names during the first two months of school and then I do the letter of the week following the alphabet order. When it comes to the beginning sound of one of their names they usually already know it.
We do many kinds of activities for the beginning sounds of our names.
One of them is to decorate the first letters in our names and we can do that in many different ways.
We use the play dough mats from 'SparkleBox' as a guide to make letters with play dough.
Or we simply make the letters with play dough.
We trace letters on the sand tray, paint letters and do lots of other things.
The best activity is the ”Show and Tell” about something that starts like our names. I send a note in my week preview asking for an object that starts with the child's name. The children can bring things during the whole week. If I get too many items in one day I just postpone a few and the kids do not mind.
"Dog starts with d-d-d like my name!"
"Camera and carrot start with c-c-c-like my name"
Usually the students say: "This is a ........ and it starts like my name"
If a chlid does not say anything after some encouragement then I pose the first two questions:
“What is it?” (how does it look like)
“Why did you bring it for Show and Tell?”
From there I have the other students ask questions. I have a short list of guiding questions that I post in the classroom and I model to the students at the beginning of the year. After 2/3 months they are able to use those questions with just a few cues. The cues are usually like this, "You can ask a question starting with 'How'.
Here are some of the questions:
How do you use it? (How does it work)
Where did you get it? Why? (connection with an event in their lives, birthday for example. It is can generate discussion about why people buy and give things)
Have you seen it before? (connection with someone else, with places that sell it, etc)
How do you take care of it? (responsibility, care for certain materials)
Where do you keep it? (organization, responsibility)
Is it the best of its kind or are there some better than things one? (opinion, perspective)
Has it changed since you got it? (things might change with use)
Show and Tell with a purpose is a great activity. It involves listening, speaking, reasoning, critical thinking, and many other skills depending on the focus and objectives of the lesson.
What Show and Tell must never be is “Show off and Tell I have it and you don’t”.
The focus of this show and tell is to learn letter sounds. There are free online games to help children learn the letter sounds. I recommend the following websites: