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A Heart For Home: Guest Post: Letter of the Week

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Post: Letter of the Week

Guest post by Maureen from Spell Outloud.

For the past year I have been using the Letter of the Week idea to teach my young daughters their letters. Basically we come up with a theme that starts with that letter (Aa for astronaut, Bb for bugs etc.) Here are some tips for implementing Letter of the Week at home:

1. Gather basic supplies to have on hand that will work with all the letters.
By keeping basic materials that can be used for every letter on-hand, you will save time and money. I have a stash of versatile alphabet-related games, manipulatives, and books. I use these for various tasks such as sorting activities and letter recognition games. My top-10 items make planning our ABC theme-week easier.

In addition to having some basic hands-on materials, I also have certain printables that we do for each letter. We do a letter cut-and-paste, letter do-a-dot page, and have letter word cards. I printed out each activity in advance, and have them stored in a 3-ring binder ready to go. This ABC pre-planning helps me stay on track through the year.

 2. Brainstorm letter themes and make a list. 

There are so many directions to go with each letter and too many wonderful ideas to implement!  When choosing, think about your goal. Are you trying to introduce your child to the sounds the letter makes, just  letter recognition, or both?  For example, Gg for giraffe could be a great theme for teaching letter recognition, but not the best choice for introducing children to the main sound Gg makes. Giraffe makes the /j/ sound, not /g/.

Make a list of all the letters and write down several theme options for each. Next look through what you already own. For me, finding a good book usually determined what our theme would be. Here are some already-planned resources to get you started: Spell Outloud’s Letter of the Week plans, printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler, and ABC lap-n-note from Homeschool Share.

3. Intentionally incorporate additional early-learning skills with each theme.
Even though the focus is letters, adding ways to practice other skills such as math and fine motor practice, makes the unit multi-functional. When planning our week, I try to include several of the following activities:

letter recognition and sound practice activities
fine motor skills practice 
songs and rhymes
pretend play
math (one-to-one correspondence, colors, number recognition, shapes)

Be flexible and have fun. If an activity isn’t working, feel free to ditch it. If your child is loving a particular theme, go ahead and expand on it. Letter of the Week activities have allowed me to be more focused and intentional with my children, but most importantly, have become a vehicle for creating some lasting memories.

Maureen is a former elementary school teacher who now has a classroom of 6 at home. She blogs at Spell Outloud and is also a contributing writer on Totally Tots, responsible for the bi-weekly ABC column. She enjoys sharing early education themes and ideas with parents and educators. In her free time she can be found behind the lens of a camera or reading a good historical fiction book.

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Blogger Jackie Higgins said...

Great ideas. I like how you suggest to find a good book to go with your study and also to think about the outcome of teaching the letter before choosing your theme. I was wondering if you go in alphabetical order or if you assess what your child knows first or if you follow some other order for introducing the letters?

March 22, 2011 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Maureen you are very organized. I regret to admit I have not been nearly as planned out. As my daughter's in preschool we've been studying the letters with a thematic order. We also kinda go through them as either the time of year or her interests take her. She recently became obessed with dinosaurs so that was my cue to go with her to check out a bunch of books and start a D is for Dino week.

March 22, 2011 at 10:05 PM  
Blogger Mozer said...


Because I write a column, I am going in ABC order this time. With one child I went in the order that was introduced with a beginning phonics program. Another child I just did whatever seasonal/book theme we were working on at the time. Even though we focus on a letter a week, I also point out other letters we see. So many times when we get to a theme, my daughter might already know the name/sound of the letter, but the theme provides a way fun way to review.

March 22, 2011 at 11:49 PM  
Blogger Mozer said...


I've done what you've done w/ several of my kids! :) Interest-based learning is the best.

March 22, 2011 at 11:50 PM  

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