Saturday, March 20, 2010

Alphebetizing

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                                                                                A few months ago I picked up this very puzzle at a local store for 4 dollars. While Jayden knew his alphabet I knew he'd enjoy the puzzle. Trains, Mickey Mouse, and ABC's will go a long way with him. Plus, I figured I could stick it in his workboxes to do on his own when I was working one-on-one with Morgan. After a while I put the puzzle up on the top shelf of our game closet, which is where I store things when we need a break for them or where I store things we'll pull out during the rainy winter months. Only, while going over plans for the 2010 school term (which is a really funny story better saved for another post) I realized Morgan should be able to alphabetize up through the second and third letter and Jayden should learn to do it with the first letter. While considering the easiest and funnest way to teach this I remembered the puzzle hidden away upstairs. We pulled it out and I told the kids their first task of the day was to assemble the puzzle. They did.

Then I showed them a Children's Dictionary we were given. I told them they could find the meaning of any word inside of it, which was amazing to them because, shamefully enough, we normally use the dictionary online. They also pointed out that one of their cousins said that the dictionary is boring while another said it's quite useful. Jayden decided to quiz me and wanted me to show him chocolate in the dictionary. I did. We then resumed our lesson.

I told them that the reason we learned our ABC's first before we did anything else was because knowing the right order was really important. This was honestly a review lesson for Morgan, but he was on tenterhooks, perhaps expecting a different outcome. I told them that to use the dictionary, or a phone book, or the library box system they had to know what order the ABCs went in. (Our library's picture book system is set up by large rolling boxes labeled with A B C, etc.)

They figured that was simple because they knew their alphabet. They were right. Then I gave them so words written on index cards and told them to match the card to the train car that held the right letter. They did. Then we discussed, at random, which letters came before others. I might call out a word and they had to find it and tell me if it came before or after another word that I read out.

Then we discussed authors names, something they are fully aware of and love reading off their books. I explained that if Jayden wrote a book it would be filed in the C box at the library. That is his cousin, who thinks dictionaries are boring, wrote a book her book could be found in the B box. Then I told him that if his American Grandma wrote a book he could find it in the A box. Then I asked them both to tell me the title of one of their favorite books. Morgan chose books by Mo Willems while Jayden preferred books by Lynell Dodd. We then decided which box those books would be found in and why.

They really enjoyed this and asked if I would give them more words. We've played with this quite a bit since then using words with the same first letter so that we had to move to the second letter. I've also written words down for them and had them number them in order but allowed them to use the train to visualize the alphabet.

It's also made them more aware of the authors of their favorite books. For instance, I heard them discussing if they liked any books in the Y box while we were at the library the other day. They also decided to verify that all the books in the whole library were set up like that. The "whole library" meaning the Junior fiction and non fiction area.. 

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