September 15, 2012

Literacy is Everywhere!!

After only three weeks of school, our classroom has become a literacy wonderland! We read and write all day, and everywhere we look, we see books, words, and our names with pictures. I try to point out some little literacy tidbit whenever I get the chance, and it already paying off! My little prekinders are noticing all kinds of things about books, letters, words, and names! And, it is so fun to watch! Here are some of the things we have been doing to help develop this love for literacy that is growing in my classroom...

Morning Message
During our morning meeting time, we always do a morning message. For now, I am writing it, but soon will start sharing the pen with the kids. I say the name of each letter as I write, demonstrate putting a finger space after each word, and say the name of the period when I write it. The kids are instinctively echoing me as I name each letter. Most days, the message is basically the same. I always start with, "Dear Amazing Friends," followed by a sentence that tells what day it is and another that tells who the helper is. When something particularly exciting is happening, I add a third sentence to give the kids a preview. This will become standard practice as we get further into the year, but for now I'm keeping simple to develop the routines. Because it is so predictable, they know what I am writing, and I always make a HUGE deal out of what good readers they already are! Once I am done writing, we echo read the entire message. Then, we talk about one or two things within the message. We may find letters that are the same, count the words in a sentence, count the letters in a word, or compare words.

Poems, Shared Reading
Every day we do shared reading. We have a "Happy" poem each month, and we have a nursery rhyme or short poem. Normally, we would only spend one, maybe two, weeks on the nursery rhyme or poem. But, to learn the routines of shared reading, we have used "Jack Be Nimble" for three weeks. I love using the "Happy" poems. The poem stays the same, but the "thing" in the poem changes each month. Right now we have "Apple Happy." Next month it will be "Jack-O Happy." The kids learn the pattern very quickly, and they love to get the pointers and read it themselves during centers. To learn a new poem, I always read it to them first. We discuss any new vocabulary and talk about the overall meaning of the poem. After that, we spend a LOT of time echo reading. Once we know the words pretty well, we start choral reading. To keep it fun and interesting, we read it in all kinds of different ways. We use small voices and tall voices. We do daddy, mommy, and baby voices. We whisper read. We clap, pat, stomp, or jump to the rhythm. Sometimes I just pop something off the top of my head to spice it up. The helper of the day gets to choose a pointer, and I help them point to the words while we all read it together. This early in the year, tracking print is not our strong suit, so I guide their hands to show them how to touch one word at a time as we say each word. Next week the kids will get to take home their poetry folders for the first time, so they can practice reading the poems at home with mom and dad. (You can purchase Kinder Korner's "Happy All Year" file here. It contains everything you need to use these poems in your classroom!)

Name Chart
Names are a HUGE part of what we are doing right now. Each morning, we check the pocket chart to see who the helper is. We start by deciding if the name is a long or a short word. Then, we count the letters in the helper's name and cheer the letters. If the helper was John, I would say, "Give me a J!" and the kids throw their hands in the air and yell, "J!" After we have cheered all the letters, I say, "What's that spell?" and we all yell, "John!" Now that we have done several names, the kids are starting to point out similarities between their names and the helper's name. "I start with a J!" "His name is shorter than mine!" "I have an O in my name!" It is amazing to me how much they are already noticing. We have some great discussions during this time of our day! I also have another set of these name cards on a ring, and we start each day by flipping through them. I hold up the card and say good morning to that child. Then they respond with, "Good morning, Mrs. A." We also have a third set of name cards that attach to a Velcro strip on the bathroom door. When they arrive, they have to find their name card and attach it under the sign that says, "Who is here today?" Even during these daily routines, they are comparing names and talking with each other about what they see and notice!

Class Library
We read books several times each day! This bookshelf holds the books we have read together. When we move on to a new theme or topic, all of these books go into a tub so we have room for the new ones. (You can see the tub of books from the first week on the floor to the right of the bookshelf. The books are all color coded with garage sale dot stickers, and there is a matching dot on the side of the tub.

Big Books
During centers, the kids can read the books from the bookshelf, choose a book from the tubs in the class library, or read one of the big books I have shared with them. Even my 3's love to read class favorites like "Brown Bear."

Name Bags
Another popular choice during centers is our Name Bags. Each prekinder has a big envelope that holds different activities they can do with their names. To start with, there are two activities inside each Name Bag.

Name Bags
Each child has a name frame and a set of magnetic letters. They can match the letters to the printed letters, or they can place them in the blank boxes under the printed letters.

Name Bags
The second thing inside the Name Bags is a tracing card. Each prekinder got to choose a dry erase crayon to keep inside his/her bag. They can practice tracing the letters in their names, then they can easily wipe it off with a tissue! By the way...if you don't have dry erase crayons, get them! I love them! They are so much easier for the kids to use than dry erase markers! Plus, they don't dry out if the lids get left off, and the points don't get shoved down inside them if they press too hard! I got lucky and found mine on clearance at Walgreens last year for $0.99 a box!! Now, I think a box of 16 is $7 or $8, but still well worth it!

Magnetic Letters
And, of course, who doesn't love to play with magnetic letters?!?! These two friends were actually making a pattern with them. Others have sorted them by color, and some were actually sorting them by letter. Even one of my 3's was doing this! They have also figured out that they can get the ring of names from the easel or the name cards from the bathroom door attendance chart I mentioned earlier and find the letters to spell their own names or their friends' names. (The bathroom happens to be right next to the magnetic board!)

It is so fun and exciting to watch them play and learn during centers! The discoveries they make on their own (guided by our discussions during circle time, of course!) are absolutely priceless! I can't wait to see where we are going to be by the end of the year!

The other really big piece of our overall literacy program is writing, but I'll save that for a later post! Stay tuned to see how writing is integrated into every part of our day, as well!


  1. I absolutely love your name bags! What a fabulous idea. Do you use a template for your name frames?

    Also, I am definitely picking up some dry erase crayons! We have ruined so many markers by leaving the caps off or pushing the tip in. :)


    1. Thanks, Allison! I made the name frames myself. I just created a table in word that has two rows and enough columns for each letter in the child's name. I have a font called ABC print that's off the Fonts for Teachers CD that I use to type the names. It's actually pretty easy! I wanted the boxes to be big enough to fit my magnetic letters, so I ended up having to use HUGE envelopes to hold them. It worked out pretty well though, because I just have the kids lay down their envelopes and use them as their work space. It helps them keep their letters from getting mixed up.

  2. Very excited to find you - can't wait to try some of this!

  3. I love fonts. I bought like a year ago a program at with 56 fonts that is amazing.
    Mar Canalo
    1st grade teacher

  4. It's nice!

  5. Thanks for sharing this info. I love the pad you use for shared writing and would like to get one of my own; could you tell me where you got it?

    Thanks again!