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Early Literacy Skill: Letter Knowledge (and a Freebie)

August 10, 2017





Hello, teaching enthusiasts!


As teachers we know the importance of reading.  We know that children who struggle with reading and comprehension skills will usually have trouble in other subjects in school. Strong reading skills form the basis of learning through all subjects.


Early childhood teachers have the awesome opportunity and responsibility to provide little ones a foundation that is solid and will benefit their future reading success through the development of early literacy. 


What is early literacy?

Early literacy is not the teaching of reading and writing but what a child knows about reading and writing before they can actually read and write.


Letter knowledge is one of the 6 essential early literacy skills. In order to become a proficient reader, a child must conquer all of these skills:


1. Print motivation

2. Print awareness

3. Letter knowledge

4. Vocabulary

5. Phonological awareness

6. Narrative skills


Effective early literacy instruction must provide preschool children with the developmentally appropriate setting, materials, experiences and the social support that fosters ongoing literacy.


In the video below, you will find a model lesson using age appropriate materials that focuses on building letter knowledge. Using magnetic or small plastic letters, or letter cards and the letter knowledge boards, you can help kiddos identify, name and match sets of letters in the alphabet. These materials can be used for both individual instruction and in small group settings and later added to centers for independent practice.





There is a natural progression on how letter knowledge is developed through our lessons:  


Beginning Learners

Younger children, 2 and 3 year olds, can benefit from this activity by simply matching up letters.  Visually discriminating and identifying the form and shapes of uppercase and eventually lowercase letters, thus becoming comfortable and familiar with letters. 


Emergent Learners

3 to 4+ year old children can begin to name letters. Progressively, they will be able to recognize and match sounds to letters as they begin to develop phonemic and phonic skills. 


          - "Let’s match these plastic letters with the correct letters on our boards." (Show the letter B) "Can you find this letter and match it to the letter on  your board?" 

          - "Can you find the letter that make the /B/ sound?"

          -  (Show the letter B)"Can you match it to the correct letter on the board?"

          -  "Can you find the letter that matches the first sound in ball?"


TIP: After introducing, and teaching letters on each letter board, place boards in centers or stations for continued or independent practice.



If you noticed in the video, I helped reinforce the lesson by having them perform the exercise from a different starting point  (We put away the letters) thus practicing what we learned twice or expanding the lesson to create a challenge for children. 


        - "Can you put away the letter in the beginning of the word BAT?"

        -  "What other words can you think of that begin with that sound?"


Noticed the game of "thumbs up, thumbs down"?  That is a fun way to get the little ones to participate and show that they understand and recognize the sounds.


I hope you enjoyed the lesson.  We would love to hear how this lesson maybe used in your classroom! Please join our email list to get thematic updates of our materials throughout the year.


You may find the entire collection of beginning of the year materials on my Teacher Pay Teacher website.


To get your Freebie, please click the image below.



Happy Teaching!

Andrea Miller


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