We all know that connecting with our kids facilitates learning. We need to know them, and what makes them tick. Last year I tried using this to help some of my struggling readers. We work hard all year on learning letters and sounds, and I tend to use an “anchor” alphabet. We recite a, /a/ apple, b /b/ bear diligently all year, and most of my students know their letters and sounds by January. Most.
But what about those that don’t? The alphabet offers us a great opportunity to connect, and there are practically limitless words to use as reference vocabulary. It doesn’t have to be A for Apple, does it? Why not A for Appaloosa, A for Astronaut, or A for Angry Birds? If we can find things the kids already know and connect with, and better yet, love, they are more likely to engage with the alphabet (which, let’s face it, is not often your struggling readers’ favorite thing to do.)
In my classroom last year it was Mario. I learned more than I ever wanted to know about Mario and all of the crazy characters in the Mario video games. I sometimes felt like I was speaking gibberish (and I kind of was!) when I would hear myself saying “/t/ like Tubba Blubba!” or “/g/ just like Goombario!” But guess what? As I was learning all about Mario, my little struggling reader was learning all about the letters in the alphabet.
We may not have the time to make an individual alphabet for every kid, but it really is worth it to try it out for the ones who need an extra nudge.
Note: I also created a Mario alphabet book. You are welcome to download and use it by clicking on the link. Just know that I do not have the rights to ANY of the images used in the book. They were used strictly for educational purposes and were found at various image sites. This book is NOT for sale, and is not to be sold by anyone else. All copyright belongs to Nintendo. Thanks for respecting this!
By request, I am uploading the Mario alphabet chart as well. Again, no sales please!