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.
What Do I Need?
- Letter Tracing Cards (free below!)
- “o” Ring
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.
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.
If you don’t already have a letter tracing book, you can grab one for FREE below!
Do you have some students struggling with their knowledge of the alphabet? I have a growing bundle of Science of Reading Literacy Centers that focus on the alphabet, rhyming, syllables, and MORE! These activities are already planned for you!
You’ll be able to keep students engaged in purposeful activities that help build a solid foundation while you are using your science of reading small group curriculum to meet readers where they are!
The Alphabet Centers included in the bundle come with 10 ready-to-go centers to build strong alphabetic knowledge.
If you want to dive into more tips and activities for developing alphabetic knowledge, check out my blog that talks about that and the science of reading Alphabetic Knowledge: What It Is and How to Support Readers.