Monday, May 14, 2012

Alpha Bags: Simple and Effective!

Since attending a kindergarten workshop several years ago (Jana Oleson, 2009, Brandon Teachers' Association LIFT Conference), I have been using alpha bags to provide additional practice with letters, their sounds, and objects that begin with that sound. They're very simple and effective, and kids and their families love them! Here's how alpha bags work:
-parent letter explaining alpha bags
-I create 26 bags (one for each letter of the alphabet) as well as sh, ch, and th
-a large freezer bag is used. Each bag contains the following items: Letterland flashcard, a PM letter book, and a foam letter that pops out for tracing.

Every night, each student takes home a different alpha bag. An alpha bag chart is taped into the front of the students' clipboard and is used to track what bags have been taken home. Once the student takes home the alpha bag, he works with his parent to practice the letter and its sound and read the letter book. Then, the child and his parent add a small item or picture that begins with the letter. The picture above shows some of the items that have been added to the K bag: a picture of ketchup, a Kool-Aid label, and a key. Students and parents understand that objects added to the bags may not be returned.

The next kindergarten morning, students place their completed alpha bag at their table spot. After circle time, they have the opportunity to share what they added the previous night. Each student tells us the letter she has. We practice the letter sound and its action. We also identify if it is a lip popper, tip tapper, etc. from the Lindamood LiPS program. The student shares the object/picture that she added to the bag, and we check to make sure it begins with that sound. It takes approximately one minute per bag to share, and it is time well spent. The families and I notice a huge improvement in students' letter-sound knowledge in the months we do alpha bags.

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