Literacy

Professional Development

March 24, 2018

How Tracing Letters Helps Letter Identification

We primary grade teachers know that kids come to school with a variety of letter knowledge. Some kinder, and even first grade, students are still working on letter identification. This was the case for most of the schools I taught in. 

In her book, The Next Step in Guided Reading, Jan Richardson says that students who identify less than 40 letters should be practicing letter identification daily.  She suggests a letter tracing intervention to help students learn their letters quickly.  It seems TOO easy, right?  Jan says, “The sooner these children learn the names of the letters, the sooner they will benefit from whole-group and small-group instruction.” I cannot agree more! Research-backed, it’s a fast and simple way to improve your students’ letter identification skills. 

Letter tracing is a simple way to help students who are struggling with letter id! All you need is a book and teacher and you are set! Use this as a warm up in your guided reading groups, have a tutor use it with a child, or send it home with struggling students!

What Do I Need?

  • Letter Tracing Cards (FREE HERE)
  • “o” Ring
  • Tutor

That’s it! Simply print the letter tracing cards, hole punch them in the corner, and keep them together with an “o” ring. The alphabet book should have one letter (with both the uppercase and lowercase) and a corresponding picture on each page. Jan suggests having a parent volunteer, a teacher’s assistant, or a trained upper-grade student complete this activity with each student who needs it.

Letter tracing is a simple and very effective way to support letter id!

How To Do It

Sitting next to the student, have them trace each upper and lowercase letter with their finger and identify the picture while saying the names (i.e. “A, a, apple. B, b, ball.”). It’s important for the student to use their pointer finger (not a pencil or marker) and trace from top to bottom because “the tactile experience is essential for building a memory trace,” says Richardson.  If the student needs help tracing, only help with the letters that are necessary with the hand-over-hand method. If a student knows less than 10 letters, just have them trace the letters in their name. If they can identify 10-40 letters, they will trace the whole book daily.

Letter tracing is a simple and very effective way to support letter id!

Jan has done extensive research with this intervention. One group she worked with had over 1,000 students (including ESL students and students in special education programs) from 52 classes who had not mastered letter identification. By the end of the year, only one student didn’t know at least 40 letters. You can check out more information about her studies in her book or website.

Letter tracing is a simple and very effective way to support letter id!

If you don’t already have a letter tracing book, you can grab one for FREE!

Remember, letter tracing is done in addition to guided reading. If you missed my post on guided reading with non-readers, click HERE to read it.

Letter tracing is a simple way to help students who are struggling with letter id! All you need is a book and teacher and you are set! Use this FREE letter identification activity as a warm up in your guided reading groups, have a tutor use it with a child, or send it home with struggling students!

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Happy Teaching,

Amanda

EASILY PLAN YOUR K-2 READING SMALL GROUPS​

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Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your students love and that are easy to implement for teachers.  Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, you’ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!

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15 Responses

  1. Will you marry me? Seriously, I was about to do those myself and I though “look for something in English”. There aren’t a lot of ressources in French for tracing letters and the one I have is very complicated, for instance, to trace a D, they start up, go down in a straight line, go back up on the same line they just traced then they do the half-circle. It’s nuts! Their fine skills aren’t developed enough for my students to be able to do that without writing a nightmare of a letter AND it’s that much more complicated! Gosh!

    So, basically, I love you. Thank you so much for you sharing your precious material. If you need something in French, I’m your girl 😉

    1. ha ha ha! I’m so glad you found them and can use them for your French speaking students!! YAY!

    1. Hi Lynne! I have not, but I would not be surprised by it working because I think the concept is the same. Give it a try!

  2. The book I am seeing only has lowercase for the finger tracing. There’s no lowercase for the dotted pencil tracing letters. Do you have those available?

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