Getting to Know Letters (Part 1) | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA GK:S1:C3:L16

Getting to Know Letters (Part 1)

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Daily Learning Target

  • Opening A: I can follow along in a shared text (poem).
    • I can count the number of words in a sentence.
    • I can point to the first word in a sentence.
    • I can point to the last word in a sentence.
    • I can point to words in a text.
    • I can move my finger under words as I read them on a page, left to right and top to bottom.
  • Work Time A and B: I can identify the name and sound for the letters “c” and “n.” (RF.K.3)
    • I can identify the name of each uppercase letter.
    • I can look at each consonant and say its sound.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Opening. Determine whether they demonstrate one-to-one correspondence with words.
  • Observe students during Work Time A and B. Determine whether they can say the sounds for each letter correctly. Refer to Articulatory Gestures resource as needed.
  • Record students’ progress on the Snapshot Assessment.

Agenda

Agenda

1. Opening (5 minutes)

A. Poem Launch: “My Cat, Noodles”

2. Work Time (10–15 minutes)

A. Getting to Know Letters (Part 1): “c” and “n”

B. Letter-Sound Chant: “c” and “n”

3. Closing and Assessment (2 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Differentiated Small Group Instruction and Rotations (40-45 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • Enlarged poem: “My Cat, Noodles” (or write on chart paper/poster)
    • Poetry notebooks: Each student needs a spiral or composition book with a copy of the poem glued or taped inside, or else a loose copy of the poem in a plastic sleeve
    • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)
  • Gather materials for differentiated small group instruction (see Differentiated Small Groups: Work with Teacher).

Vocabulary

Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)

  • keyword (L)

Materials

  • Enlarged poem: “My Cat, Noodles” (to display; can be handwritten on chart paper)
  • Large pointer (optional; for teacher to point to words in poem as the class recites)
  • Poetry notebooks (one per student; see Teaching Notes)
  • Poem: “My Cat, Noodles” (one per student in poetry notebooks)
  • Keyword Picture Cards: “c” and “n” (one of each for teacher to display)
  • Articulatory Gestures chart (to post)
  • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Poem Launch: “My Cat, Noodles”

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”):

“Now let’s read the poem, line by line. Open up your ears to find the rhyme. When we read together, we sound great. Listen up to the rhymes we make.”

  • Begin the Poem Launch instructional practice:

1. Teacher says: “Listen closely as I read this poem. Touch your nose if you hear anything about a cat or a newt. Hm. I wonder what a ‘newt’ is.”

2. Teacher reads the Enlarged poem: “My Cat, Noodles” once or twice, pointing to each word as he or she reads it (with a finger or a pointer).

3. Teacher says: “I saw many of you touch your nose when you heard the lines: ‘My cat, Noodles, and I went for a hike one day,’ and ‘We saw a cute newt on a rock in the creek.’”

4. Teacher asks:

“Does the author give us any clues to tell us what a newt is?” (It is an animal; it lives near a creek.)

5. Teacher says: “Right, I remember seeing a newt on an animal show I watched. It is kind of like a small lizard. Let’s remember those words: ‘cat’ and ‘newt.’”

6. Teacher says: “Now, I want you to try to read the poem with me.”

7. Teacher rereads the poem several times, encouraging students to read with her chorally. During the shared reading of the poem, ask students to:

    • Count the number of words in each line.
    • Point to the first word in each line and then the last word in each line.

8.Distribute poetry notebooks or copies of the poem: “My Cat, Noodles” to individuals or partners.

9. Students follow along chorally as teacher reads aloud, pointing to the words on their copy as they read.

10. Repeat as needed to ensure that most students have memorized the words.

11. Teacher says: “Today, we learned how to point to each word in the poem as we said it. The next time we read the poem together, we will look closely at those words and search for letters we know.”

  • To provide support or practice with left-to-right directionality and one-to-one matching, consider inviting individual students to approach the enlarged poem and point to the words as the class chorally recites.
  • Consider modeling how to count the words in each line for students who need help with this skill.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Getting to Know Letters (Part 1): “c” and “n”

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”):

“Now we’ll learn the letters, short and tall. Get your bodies ready to write them all. When we learn the letters, we will shout. We know their names, we figured it out!”

  • Begin the Getting to Know Letters (Part 1) instructional practice:

1. Teacher says: “We are going to get to know two new letters today: ‘c’ and ‘n.’ We will learn the names, the sounds, and keywords for these two letters.”

2. Teacher holds up a Keyword Picture Card: “n,” showing only the picture, and asks:

“Who knows the name of this animal that we just learned?” (“newt”)

3. Teacher says: “Right!”

4. Teacher asks:

“What sound do we hear at the beginning of the word ‘newt’?” (/n/)

5. Teacher says: “Let’s all say that sound together: /n/.”

6. Students repeat sound: /n/.

7. Teacher asks:

“What letter makes the sound: /n/ in ‘newt’?” (“n”)

8. Teacher says:“Right! Underneath our newt is the letter ‘n.’ Let’s use our arm as the pencil to skywrite the letter ‘n’ as we say the word ‘newt.’”

9. Teacher models skywriting and says: “When we make the letter ‘n,’ we start in the middle and pull straight down, then back up and make a hump, then pull straight down.”

10. Teacher models skywriting “n” with the keyword “newt.”

11. Teacher says: “I wonder if we can think of more words that begin with that sound.”

12. Teacher asks:

“Who can share a word that begins with /n/?”

13. Teacher records word on chart and asks:

“What letter is making our /n/ sound in this word?” (“n”)

14. Teacher says: “Right! The letter ‘n’ says /n/. I‘m going to circle the letter ‘n’ in the words we share.”

15. Teacher invites students to share two or three more words that begin with /n/.

16. Teacher says: “These are great words! Now let’s see if we can think of some words that END with the sound /n/.”

18. Repeat steps 16–19 with words that end with /n/.

19. Teacher says: “What a great list of words we have created! And all our words have the sound /n/ made by the letter ‘n,’ just like in our newt!”

20. Repeat steps 2–21 with Keyword Picture Card: “c” and “cat.”Teacher says: “Now we’ve met ‘c’ and ‘n.’ In the next lesson, we’ll get to know them even better. We’ll learn how to write them!”

  • Make sure students use their arm in skywriting rather than just their hand or finger. The large movement engages the physical connection to both the letter formation and phoneme.
  • Remind students that the /n/ sound stops with the tongue touching the roof of the mouth, just behind the teeth, and does not include the “uh” that many students add to the sound.
  • Remind students that the /k/ sound stops with the strong puff of air pushed out by the tongue’s position on the soft palate and does not include the “uh” that many students add to the sound.
  • If students need help thinking of new words beginning or ending with the /n/ sound, offer clues. Example:

“What is the opposite of yes?” (no)

  • If students need help thinking of new words beginning with the /k/ sound spelled with “c,” offer clues. Example:

“What do you drink from?” (cup)

  • If students offer a word that begins with a different sound, remind them to notice the way /n/ or /k/ feels in their mouths when they say each keyword. Ask them to repeat the word and notice if the beginning sound of the word feels the same in their mouths.
  • Encourage classmates’ names to be offered as words.

B. Letter-Sound Chant: “c” and “n”

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”):

“Now let’s say the alphabet, letter by letter. Here is the letter, here is the sound. When we chant together, we sound great. Listen up to the sounds we make!”

  • Begin the Letter-Sound Chant instructional practice:

1. Teacher says: “I remember in our poem that we touched our noses when we heard the words ‘cat’ and ‘newt,’ and that we used those words to help us learn about the letters ‘c’ and ‘n.’”

2. Teacher asks:

“Do you think those would be good words to help us remember the sounds that ‘c’ and ‘n’ make?” (Yes!)

3. Teacher says: “Great! Then we will use ‘cat’ and ‘newt’ as our keywords for those sounds.”

4. Teacher asks:

“Who can tell me what a key does?” (unlocks a door)

5. Teacher says: “That’s right! So our keywords will be our keys to unlock the sounds for each letter. I’ll show you how to practice this each day!”

6. Teacher models the Letter-Sound Chant for “c”: “‘c,’ cat, /k/,” and repeats.

7. Teacher asks students to join in the Letter-Sound Chant for “c”: “‘c,’ cat, /k/,” and repeats.

8. Repeat steps 6–7 with “n.”

9. Teacher says: “Great job! When we learn new letters, we will also learn a keyword to help us unlock the sound. Knowing the sounds for letters helps us become better readers.”

  • Refer to the Articulatory Gestures chart as needed to support students in producing sounds for each letter.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning

  • Emphasize that successful learners think about what they’ve learned and why it’s important. Consider using a metaphor, such as a baseball player learning to keep his or her eye on the ball to know exactly when to hit it.
  • Ask:

“When we see the letter ‘n,’ how can we remember the sound it makes?” (Think of our keyword, “newt,” and listen for the first sound or the sound that “n” makes at the beginning.)

“How will that help us with reading or writing?” (Responses will vary.) 

  • For students who need additional support organizing their ideas: Provide sentence frames. Example:
  • “When I said the word ‘cat,’ I _____.”

Differentiated Small Groups: Work with Teacher

Suggested Plan: Teacher works with the Pre-Alphabetic and Early Partial Alphabetic groups. Teacher may meet briefly with the Late Partial and Early Full Alphabetic groups to get them started on independent work.

Note: Groups not working with the teacher at a given time should be engaged in purposeful independent rotation work. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work guidance document (see K–2 Skills Resource Manual) for more details.

Pre-Alphabetic:

  • Practice activity: Teacher guides students in sorting pictures sharing initial sounds with keywords (“c” and “n”).
    • Teacher cuts apart Initial Sound Sort Pictures.
    • Teacher guides students in sorting pictures by initial sound (/c/ and /n/).
    • Students paste pictures on Sort sheet (2 column).
    • If time allows, consider providing each student with their own copies of the Initial Sound Sort Pictures and Initial Sound Sort sheets and having them do the activity again independently.
  • Consider also reading Letter Stories: “c” or “n,” found in the Learning Letters Book. After reading the story, practice skywriting the letter. Repeat the following day with the remaining letter.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Initial Sound Sort Pictures (one for teacher use)
    • Initial Sound Sort sheet (one for teacher use)
    • Scissors (one for teacher use)
    • Glue sticks (one per student)

Early Partial Alphabetic

  • Practice activity: Students sort pictures sharing initial sounds with keywords (“c” and “n”).
    • Teacher reviews the names of the objects in the pictures and supports students as they isolate and identify the first sound.
    • Students cut apart Initial Sound Sort Pictures.
    • Students sort and paste pictures on Initial Sound Sort sheet (2 column).
  • Consider also reading Letter Stories: “c” or “n,” found in the Learning Letters Book. After reading the story, practice skywriting the letter. Repeat the following day with the remaining letter.
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Initial Sound Sort Pictures (one per student)
    • Initial Sound Sort sheet (one per student)
    • Scissors and glue sticks (one of each per student)

Late Partial and Early Full Alphabetic:

  • Practice activity: Students sort pictures sharing initial and final sounds with keywords (“c” and “n”).
  • Students cut apart Initial and Final Sound Sort Pictures.
  • Students sort and paste pictures on Initial and Final Sound Sort sheet (3 column).
  • Additional Supporting Materials:
    • Initial and Final Sound Sort Pictures (one per student)
    • Initial and Final Sound Sort sheet (one per student)
    • Scissors and glue sticks (one of each per student)

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