ESL Kids Teaching the Alphabet
A B C
Alphabet Boxes: You need: 26 baby wipe boxes / tissue boxes, various items to go with each letter (e.g. apple magnet for the letter A) & permanent marker. Write the upper and lower case letter on each wipe box, one letter of the alphabet for each box. Get your Ss to fill each box with items that begin with that letter. Some can even be pictures of items (this can be done slowly over a matter of weeks/months). Each class show the items to the children and pass them around, this captivates the children! One box is used at a time. You don't even have to fill all the boxes at once but fill them as you go through the year. This hands-on experience is a big hit!
Alphabet Instruction Basic Steps: There are many ways to teach the alphabet and all Ts develop their own style over time. For new Ts here is a basic outline of steps you can follow when introducing a new letter: 1. Hold up an alphabet letter flashcard so all Ss can see it. 2. Chorus the letter 3 to 5 times. Then ask each S individually to say the letter. 3. Teach the sound of the letter (e.g. "A is for 'ah' ... ah - ah - ah"). Chorus again and check individually. 4. Provide an example of an object that begins with the letter. Double-sided flashcards with the letter on one side and a picture on the other are great for this. (e.g. "What's this?" (elicit "A"). "And A is for...?" (elicit "ah"). "And 'ah' is for ... (turning the card over) "apple!". Chorus the word and check individually. 5. Do a final check (T: "What's this?", Ss: "A", T: "And 'A' is for...?", Ss: "ah", T: "And 'ah' is for...?" Ss: "Apple!"). These steps can be followed by 'magic finger', 'pass it', 'find it', 'slow motion' or any other alphabet game (see below for these). Also, the 'ABC song is a nice way to start and finish the alphabet segment of your lesson.
Alphabet Line-up: Give each S an alphabet flashcard. Play the ABC song and have the Ss skip around in a circle singing along to the song. Stop the tape at random points and the Ss have to line up in the correct alphabetical order according to their cards.
Alphabet Sentences: One S says a letter (for example 'A') and his/her teammate says a word that starts with that letter (like 'Ant'). Then you go on to a sentence that uses the letter A word ('or example 'A nice person would not smash an ant'). This way the children will learn their letters and words that start with the letter. (Submitted by Sierra)
Alphabet Soup: Place plastic letters in a bowl. Divide flashcards by their beginning letters. Each student draws a letter from the bowl and then finds the flashcards associated with that letter. (Submitted by Lori Supernaw)
Alphabet Wave: Divide the a-z flashcards among all your students. Put Ss in a line and play the ABC song. As it plays each student must hold up their corresponding alphabet flashcard.Alphabet whispers: The children split up into groups of three, one is at the blackboard, one is sitting down and one is running between the two. The student sitting down has a sheet with the alphabet printed out in a disordered manner - s/he whispers the first letter to their team mate who in their turn runs to the board and whispers the letter to their other team member. If the letter is understood s/he writes it on the board. The first team to write it correctly gets a point. This can also be adapted to spelling words. The teams can change positions and get maximum benefit from this game. (Submitted by Katie McCarthy).
Balloon Alphabet: This is a great game that everyone loves. You need a balloon, this is your timing device evoking the alphabet from the Ss unpredictably. This game can get a bit out of hand if the T isn't careful in his/her method of control. T starts and is A, next S is B, then C and so on. Each S touches the balloon and says their letter - this goes round and round until Z. This can be random or in a circle or line, but the balloon goes anywhere, control is essential so the littlies don't trample each other. This can also be used for subject review such as colors, or animals. I usually touch it a few times to gain control e.g. "B B B B" and then pass it on to C. (Submitted by Laura Gravity).
Bingo: Make bingo cards with letters instead of numbers. The winner is the first to either get a line or full house.
Board Scramble: T puts the whole alphabet on the blackboard in a scramble of letters here and there, but low enough that the Ss can reach it. Have two teams and call out a letter. The person that is able to find and circle it first wins a point for their team. To make things harder have capitol and small letters. Even more challenging- have four teams all looking for the same letter. The kids just love it. You can do it with numbers and also words. (Submitted by Susie).
Chalkboard Fun: Give each student a small chalkboard, rag and a piece of chalk (chalkboards can be purchased at a discount store). Call out a letter and have students draw that letter and then hold up the chalkboard when finished. This makes writing practice more fun! Small whiteboards can also be used. (Submitted by Tania Bibbo).
Concentration: You need 2 sets of alphabet flashcards for this game. Place both sets face down on the floor. Ss take turns in turning over 2 cards (saying the letters aloud). If the cards match then the S keeps the cards. If the cards are different the cards are turned back over again in their original places. The S with the most pairs at the end of the game is the winner. This game works well for upper and lower case letters (e.g. match the 'a' flashcard to the 'A' flashcard).
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D E F
Dominoes: You need a large piece of Tag board & one permanent Black magic marker.
Cut the tag board into 1" by 2" pieces. On each Piece print 2 letters, make the pieces look like dominos, but with letters. Use all upper case, or lower case. If the children are ready for a challenge use both upper and lower. Play as you would with regular dominos!!! Have fun. You can also make these using shapes, colors, animals, etc.
Find It: T holds up a letter flashcard and the Ss search around the room for an object beginning with that letter. (e.g. A - arm, B - book, C - clock). You can also do this activity by spreading picture flashcards around the classroom and having Ss find the picture that has the correct first letter.
First Letter: Give Ss various picture flashcards. Run through the alphabet and have Ss hold up the flashcard that begins with that letter.
G H I
Hot Potato: Write up a letter of the alphabet on the blackboard. Get a soft ball and throw it to a S. They must say a word beginning with that letter and then throw the ball back to the T, or to another S. (Submitted by Simone Francis)
I spy: T says "I spy with my little eye something that begins with B". Ss try to guess the object (e.g. "book").
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J K L
Last Letter, First Letter: (A popular Japanese game called Shiri Tori). Have the Ss sit in a circle with you. T starts by saying a word, then the S to the T's right must make a word that starts with the last letter of the word that the T said (e.g. bus --- steak --- key --- yellow --- etc.). Continue around the circle until someone makes a mistake.
Letter Sculptures: Either print the alphabet on the board or use alphabet flashcards. Divide the class into teams of 3. Model that each team must work together and use their bodies to make a letter. Then start with: "Make the letter (H) ... Go!" Ss can make the letter shape either by standing or lying on the floor. A points can be allocated for: (1) the team that is the first to make the letter shape, or (2) the team that makes the best letter shape.
Letter Shapes Race: Alphabet blocks or shapes are great for this activity. Scatter all the alphabet shapes randomly around the classroom floor. Line up all the Ss against the front wall and have them race to find the first letter: 'a'. The first S to find it stamps on it and shouts "A". The S then wins the 'a' flashcard. Ss then have to race to find 'b' and once again the first S to stamp on it and shout "B" wins the 'b' flashcard. Continue until 'z' is reached. The S with the most flashcards is the winner.
M N O
Magic Finger: This is a good activity to use before going on to printing practice. Go through your routine of teaching a letter using an alphabet flashcard. Then hold the flashcard letter up in front of each S and let them trace the letter on the card with their 'magic' finger. Then the T, using his/her magic finger, traces the letter in the air and the Ss follow suit. The T and the Ss can then use their magic fingers to trace the letter on all sorts of fun places. E.g. T: "Draw 'P' on your hand. Now on the floor. Now on your partner's back. Now on your cheek. Now on the wall. Now on your foot" etc. Finally, if you have posters on the walls get the Ss to find examples of the letter in the posters.
Make an Alphabet Book: For this you need: Ring binder folder, white paper & old magazines. Each week we choose a new letter to work on. Write the upper and lower case letter on a piece of white paper, then go through old magazines with your Ss to find pictures that begin with that letter. Let them cut them out and glue them on the paper, which helps them improve their cutting skills too! Use a hole punch and put it into a folder to make a book. The Ss love to look at it over and over.
Musical Chair Alphabet: Place chairs in the form of musical chairs with alphabet flashcards placed on them. Start the music when the music stops the students pick up their flashcards and have to read the sound on the flashcard. The child who is unable to read is out of the game. (Submitted by Farah Najam)
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P Q R
Pass: Sit with your Ss in a circle. T holds up a flashcard letter and says the letter (e.g. "A"). T passes it on to the next S who also says it and passes it on to the next S. Variations: change directions, speed rounds, have many flashcard letters going round at the same time.
Printing: Alphabet printing exercises are an important first step in learning to write. Printing exercises don't have to be boring - they can be really fun! They should also help Ss to internalize the letters. Before the Ss begin printing model each letter print showing the directions of the letter strokes. When printing letters get Ss to call out each letter as they write it. If writing lower and upper case have them say "big 'A', small 'a'" as they write. Let Ss write letter sets in different colors and allow Ss to draw little pictures on their printing sheets. Continuously monitor the Ss while they print helping with letter strokes, spaces between each letter, letter size, etc. Also, while monitoring, point to letters the Ss have already printed and ask them what they are. Encourage Ss to circle their best printing effort for each letter set. Finish by holding up each S's sheet, asking questions ("what is this letter?") pointing out any mistakes, etc., but above all give lots of praise and encouragement.
Rubbings: You need sand paper, scissors, crayons & paper. Cut shapes, letters or numbers out of sand paper at least 3 inches tall. Put the shapes under the paper and let the children rub over the top with the crayons. Have them rub their name, etc.
S T U
Scrapbook: You need an old scrapbook or photo album, old magazines & scissors. Take a scrapbook or photo album and on each page write a letter of the alphabet starting at A through to Z. Then with your Ss look through magazines for pictures of things and put them on the pages with the same first letter. An example would be a picture of an airplane for A, etc. Use photo albums with the cling plastic covering so no gluing is involved. Afterward your Ss have their very own class alphabet book that they helped to make.
Slow motion: T holds a pack of alphabet flashcards with the letters facing towards him/her. The last card should be turned around so the letter is facing the Ss but is hidden as it is behind the pack. Slowly pull the flashcard up inch by inch so the Ss can only see part of the letter. As the letter is slowly revealed Ss try to guess what it is. The first S to guess correctly keeps the card (for 1 point). Variation: To make it a little more difficult turn each letter flashcard upside down.
Up and Down: You need 2 sets of letter flashcards for this game (or one set of upper-case "A, B, C ..." and one set of lower-case "a, b, c ..."). Give each of your Ss a letter flashcard from one set. T keeps the other set. Arrange the Ss so that they are all sitting down. T holds up one flashcard letter and the S with the same flashcard letter stands up and says the letter and then sits down again. Play the game at a fast pace so that Ss are standing up and sitting down rapidly. Variation: Give each S 2 or 3 flashcards.
V W X
Vanishing Alphabet Flashcards: place a number of flashcard letters in front of the Ss. Give them a few moments to memorize the letters and then tell them to close their eyes. Take away one of the flashcards and then tell the Ss to open their eyes again. The first S to guess the missing letter flashcard can win that flashcard (for 1 point) and take away a flashcard in the next round.
Window Game: You can only do this if your classroom has a window that you can stand outside of and look into the classroom (don't try this on the 10th floor!). Model first: stand the Ss in front of the window and go out of the room. Wave to them through the window and silently mouth some words (so it seems like they can't hear you through the glass). Look at an alphabet flashcard and then mouth the letter a few times. Go back in and the S who first tells you the letter you were saying can have a turn.
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Yell it: Have your Ss close their eyes and turn their backs so they can't see what you are doing. Take a letter flashcard, letter block or letter shape and hide it somewhere in the classroom (behind a curtain, on a chair seat, under a book, etc). Then shout "Go!" and Ss race around the classroom looking for that letter. The S that finds it yells it out and wins a point. This can be done a letter at a time, or with a number of letters at the same time".