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Deedee Wills - Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

How to Teach Letters and Words | Free Activities!

Check out this great way to teach letters, words, and sentences to young children! A free word building activity for whole-group engagement and free printables for independent practice, too!

Concepts of Print – The First Step!

It’s the beginning of the year and your kindergarten students are excited to learn all about the letters of the alphabet and what we can do using those letters. Many of your students see a word and may know it is a word but don’t fully understand that individual letters are put together to make that word. This is what we refer to as concepts of print or print awareness. We want students to have an understanding of how print works and that meaning is conveyed through words.

Additional examples of print awareness include:

  • knowing that words consist of letters, and spaces appear between words.
  • identifying the parts of a book (front and back, as well as, the pages within)
  • understanding that a line of text is read from left to right
  • knowing the difference between words and nonwords
  • understanding that print can appear by itself or with pictures

How to Teach Letters and Words | Free Activities! 1

Children develop print awareness at a young age and begin quickly developing print awareness once they engage in the learning process to begin building early literacy skills. There are lots of different ways to develop print awareness. Here are a few, maybe new ideas, for you:

  • Read to students using big books and be sure to draw attention to the words and letters.
  • Label objects in your classroom.
  • Encourage students to write a grocery list, write a letter, make a card, etc.
  • Play with letters of the alphabet. After reading an alphabet book, such as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, place enough letters into a bowl to spell your students’ names. Have students draw out a letter. If it is a letter in their name, they keep the letter. If not, the alphabet letters go back into the bowl.
  • Share books with your students that are predictable and patterned.
  • Provide students with examples of environmental print. A fun way to practice environmental print is using this name chant poem.

Develop print awareness with this poem using environmental print

To be successful readers, students need to have a basic understanding of the concepts of print, as well as, letter recognition skills and phonemic awareness.

Some kindergarten students may enter your classroom and be able to identify the names of printed letters; whereas others aren’t quite there yet. Regardless, you will need to be sure you are providing direct and explicit instruction when it comes to teaching letter names and letter sounds. In this blog post, I will focus on identifying the difference between letters, words, and sentences; as well as, building words from those letters and then sentences from words. If you are looking for how I teach letter identification, specifically the names of the letters and the sound for each specific letter, then please check out another one of my blog posts that will be linked at the end of this post. Please know that your students do not need to master every letter of the alphabet before you can begin teaching them how to blend sounds to create words. Best practices involve blending words from the beginning with knowledge of just 2-3 letters.

Great Ideas for Teaching Letters & Beyond

Some of my favorite alphabet activities and word-building practice involve the use of magnetic letters. Moveable letters are great resources for students to manipulate and work on their word-building skills. I found this set of magnetic letters that includes both lowercase letters and uppercase letters that are perfect for use during the whole school year.

How to Teach Letters, Words, and Sentences Lesson #1

I start this lesson by showing students a few magnetic letters on the board. I may say something like this, “Boys and girls, you know that these are letters. We’ve learned the names of these letters and the sounds that each letter says. Who can tell me the names of these letters?” You call on one of your young learners and they give you the letter names. “Perfect! Now we are going to use these letters to make a word. A word is a group of letters put together in a special way to mean something.” You then move those letters to form a word and blend the sounds together. This can be done several times and I encourage you to provide your students with the opportunity to come up and move the letters to build words. With some planning on your end, provide students with the correct letters to make words that you can use to create a sentence. Once students build a word, you can write it on a sentence strip and then use those words to create a sentence in a pocket chart.

Use magnetic letters to practice encoding.

We follow up this lesson with a pocket chart sort.

Teaching Letters, words, and sentences free activity

Work on developing fine motor skills with this independent cut and glue activity that can be used for additional practice. This could also be a fun morning work task for the next day!

Free printable for practicing letters, words, and sentences.

You can download the pocket chart sorting pieces and the independent printable activity for students by clicking HERE.

Teaching Letters and Word Building Lesson #2

If you know me, you know I love poetry and songs! I love using poems in the classroom to enhance the learning experience. I created a poem that is simple and so much fun for learning about using letters to create words. The poem is to the tune of Jingle Bells. Caution! Your students may be singing this one all week long.

How to Teach Letters and Words | Free Activities! 2

After I introduce the poem, we begin our word building activity. I created a video to show you how it’s done! Check it out!

YouTube video

This activity is great for practicing both decoding and encoding. Students decode the words by blending the sounds. Then, they practice encoding by segmenting the sounds.

Practice decoding and encoding with this free file.
Free letter and word building activity

Guess what? Another free file! At the end of this post, you can get this free activity; complete with the poem, picture cards, and letter cards.

Additional Resources for Developing Letter Knowledge

Teach Letters and Words with this Free File

Grab the letter and word poem, plus the letter sorting cards and pictures for an engaging activity. Add your name and email address to the box below. Then, check your inbox for the free download.

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Deedee Wills

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

Hi, I'm DeedeE.

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

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