Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Phonics Fun

In Kindergarten, how letters are taught or introduced can be a touchy topic to discuss! I have seen everything from people swearing by the letter of the week philosophy to teaching multiple letters in a week to not teaching letters individually but doing more of an approach where all the letters are taught.
The county that I teach in adopted Fundations which is a phonics curriculum created by Wilson. Last year was the first year of implementation and like the first year of any curriculum, I was definitely overwhelmed. Fundations is a strict program that lays out 30 minutes of phonics instruction daily. This was the first encounter I had with a script-like program and honestly, it rubbed me the wrong way. The "Fundations gods" told me exactly what to say and when to say it. That's SO not how I do things. However, I followed the curriculum and noticed that the kids were really picking up the letters and their sounds so I couldn't really complain too much. :)
Each letter in the alphabet has a keyword and as we review the letters during Fundations time, we say the letter-keyword-sound all the time. For example, we would say "a-apple-/a/." Here is an example of what one of our posters looks like so you can see the keywords.
 Fundations teaches the lowercase letters first and then uppercase later on. When I realized that, my mind was blown. Why in the world would you separate uppercase and lowercase letters? It was a big mystery. Thankfully, after some additional training, that mystery was explained. Did you know that uppercase letters make up only 10% of print? I had no idea! So Fundations focuses on lowercase first and then teachers uppercase at a quicker pace. Also, if a child knows any letters when they enter Kindergarten, typically they know uppercase letters.
(Just so you know, my kids are still very aware of the uppercase letters. We typically sort uppercase and lowercase letters and practice writing uppercase letters as well. Don't tell those "Fundations gods!")
Fundations also teaches two letters a week most of the time. The first week of school there is only one letter taught and last week there were three letters in one week. We all made it out alive! ;) Before Fundations, my grade level taught one letter a week. One letter a week sounds nice because you can revolve all your centers, crafts, poems and all sorts of thing around that letter. In reality though, if you teach one letter a week students won't be introduced to all of the letters until 3/4 of the way through the year. That is way too long in my opinion! I am loving teaching two letters in a week now! The kids can totally handle it!
Outside of our Fundations time, we do a lot of things to reinforce the letters that we are learning. I have an ABC center like the one below. Kids get to sort the letters and pictures based on the first sound.
I use Cara Carroll's Interactive Alphabet Notebook and seriously love it! Check it out!
As a class we come up with a list of words that begin with the letter sounds and I obviously work with the letters in small groups too!
A few weeks ago, I searched for some fun videos about the letters that we were learning about because honestly, Fundations isn't always very fun. I found ABC Mouse's letter videos on Youtube and I just love them! I think we have watched the video for every letter we have learned since then! The kids are totally engaged and get so excited when one of those videos come on. Here is one that we watched today!
During the video, every single one of my kiddos said "ewwwww" in unison when the word kiss was mention. I love me some kinders.
Do you do Fundations? I would love to hear how you teach the letters in your class!

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