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Instant letter recognition is one of the best predicters of reading success. Nixon Education Services have a plastic Alphabet Mat, providing a rainbow arc of all 26 letters on one side, and on the opposite side an alphabet skeleton arc (providing only the A and Z at either end; and MN in the center).
The kit comes in two versions: Capitals and Lower Case; each version comes with plastic letters which can be placed on top of the printed ones and then, if needed, drawn down to a center grid to form words.
The Capitals mat has drawings of the hand sign for each letter in sign language. The Lower Case mat has an amusing animal drawing for each letter, complete with its own mnemonic sentence : “Albert Alligator holds an apple”; “Guppy Goldfish golfs”; “Rita Rabbit raises two real roses”; “Max Fox sits in the box”.
But the kits come with some great activity suggestions. Here are a few. Make adjustments for one-to-one situations or groups; come up with your own variations!
- Name Those Letters Using just the mat, student places the writing finger on the A on the arc and echoes the letters after the teacher, pointing to the letter.
- Chugging Choo-Choo Using the mat, student places writing finger on A on the arc and echoes the letters after the teacher while pointing to each letter; but then is asked to put her engine in reverse: place pointer finger on Z and name the letters backwards to A.
- Show Me Student places the writing finger on A on the arc and echoes the letters (after the teacher) as she points to each letter. Ask the student to “Show me A“; repeat with 5-7 letters. Go as quickly or slowly as she needs to go.
- Pinky Point Rules are the same as “Simon Says”. Using the pinky finger of the writing hand, students only move to a new letter if the teacher says “Pinky point…” For example: “Pinky point to A.” (Student points to A.) “Point to G.” (Student should NOT point to G, since the teacher did not say “Pinky point”.)
- Before and After Ask student to put both arms in the air above his head. Demonstrate (with your back to the student) that the right hand is the “after” hand. Have student lower his right arm as he says, “My right hand is my ‘after’ hand.” Ask student to form the pointer fingers of both hands into pointers and point to the letter T on the mat as he says “T”. Then ask the student to move his right hand to the letter after T. Ask the student to name the letter after T. Then ask the student to say in a sentence, “U comes after T.” Continue throough 4 or 5 more letters.
- Hot Potato The teacher quickly says a random letter. The student repeats the letters as she quickly points to the letters the teacher names. An extension of this activity is for the teacher to say the sound of the letter; student quickly echoes the sound, names the letter and then points.
- Alphabet Conversation Student touches and names the letters of the alphabet and says them as if she were asking a question. For example: “AB?” “CD?” “EF?” etc. There are variations: alternate with the student as she asks a two letter question and you give a two letter “answer”. Or extend the length of the sequences.
- Popcorn Teacher says a letter. Then toss a beanbag to student, who says the next letter and throws it back. Options: student gives sound and/or key word as well.
- Snap and Clap Student repeats the letters of the alphabet, clapping when he says a consonant letter and snapping when he says a vowel. (On the mats, consonants are blue and vowels are red.)
- Turn-over Teacher writes a letter on the board. Student begins an alphabet sequence with that letter. For example: teacher writes S. Student says “STUVWXYZABC…” until the teacher says “Turn over!” and writes another letter on the board.
- Who Am I? Teacher places a letter in the student’s hand behind the student’s back. The student feels the letter and guesses what it is.
- Auditory Sequential Memory Student places all the letters in the center of the mat and turns the letters right side up. Student finds each letter of the alphabet and places it on the arc. After placing the letters, student touches and names each one. Then: teacher says a sequence of 2-7 letters (not in alphabetical order!) Student repeats and picks up the letters and places them back in his bag. (Student does NOT pick up letters while they are being named.)
These activities and many more are in the brochure that comes with the Alphabet Mat kits. Contact Nixon Education Services, 900 N Taylor #925, Arlington VA 22203; or www.nixoneducation.com If you order fewer than 25, the sets cost $5.00; if you order more than 25, they cost $4.00. “Math-matics” mats are also available.
tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or firstname.lastname@example.org