Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Letter-Word-Sentence Lesson

We had lots of fun learning about letters, words, and sentences. This is a good time of year for these lessons, because some of the children are really ready to be writing sentences in their stories.  I am always  having them answer questions in complete sentences, too- so we have that L.K.1f CCSS all set here!  Oh boy...

I teach the class that (with hand motions) a letter (hands close together and small) is a symbol that stands for a sound. I put a "c" on the board.  A word (hands a little bigger) is a group of letters put together to mean something. I put "cat" on the board with a beanie baby cat beside it. A sentence (hands wide apart) is a group of words put together that mean something.  I put the sentence, "The cat is here," on the board with the cat beside it.

The students teach this to each other using hand motions.

The first day, we read The Alphabet Tree by Leo Leonni. 

This is a great story to reinforce letter/word/sentence.  I like how the letter bug tells the letters they will be stronger as a word, and then the caterpillar comes along and tells the words that they will be stronger as a sentence. It is a great representation, even with size.

We talk about how a sentence isn't just a group of ANY words, but that it has to mean something.   I have some kids who, bless their hearts, are trying to write words in their story, but will write four random sight words.  This visual helps them to understand that the words have to go together and mean something.  I show my own caterpillars, and we talk about which one is a sentence and which one is just a group of words.

We also talk about how our sentence needs to match our illustrations.  I show them some examples that they like... (Don't judge the artwork... please...)

The wonderful "I Can" statements are from Erin Dowling's TPT store. I got all of her "I Can" statements, because I just love them.

I made a Letter/Word/Sentence chart.  We talked about each, and then I drew a name and had that child come  to the front and choose a letter to glue on, then another child to glue on a word, and finally a child to glue on the  sentence.

At Center Time, the children each made their own Letter/Word/Sentence chart so I could see if they understood the concepts.  I just put a bunch of letters, words, and sentences on the table, and each child had to choose two of each to put onto their own chart.

The next day,  we read Max's Words, by Kate Banks.

I always have the children tell me in a complete sentence what the author's job and illustrator's job are.  "The author writes the words. The illustrator draws the pictures."  I explain to them that a complete sentence  gives the listener so much more information than if I just said, "writes words." 

In this story, Max's brothers both collect something, and Max wants to have his own collection.  Max decides to collect words.  After we read the story, I tell them that they have their very own collection of words in their head!  All the time!  They can create any story they want with that wonderful collection.

I put some magnetic letters on the board. (The magnetic letters were under the chart- and when I flipped the chart over, the kids all gasped.  When THAT is magical, you know you have the best job!)

 I have different students come up to make the words "can," "go," and "in."  As they make the words on the board, I have the other children think how to spell the word, and then spell it out loud.

 I choose another student to make the sentence, "I can go in." We praise the meatball spaces between words to make the sentence easy to read. 

I change it around to so we can use that question mark...
Then comes the exclamation point.  They LOVE reading with expression to match the punctuation marks.  I am training them well. They love punctuation marks already.  
We say our Punctuation Poem.  The kids love this poem, and just randomly say it all day. I sort of completely love that!

We read through our Sight Words, just as a reminder that those are great words that we know how to spell, to include in our stories.  Other big words are great to use, too, and we can write the sounds we can hear in those which is wonderful.  

Throughout the day, we do lots of activities from my Primary Writing Prezi on the Smartboard.  The children LOVE the Smartboard games. I have been reinforcing sentences with the Writing Sentences games.

I share a few of the students' stories who have used sentences , to reinforce what it should look like.  Here are a couple of my favorites so far- not because they are the "best" ones- but because these children have come SO far!  This first little boy wasn't writing ANYTHING at all- and was only grabbing one crayon to scribble a quick picture.  Here is his story all about his dad shooting a deer. 

 He even heard the "sh" "oo" and "t" all. by. himself! 
 Look at that deer hanging up in his garage- and the "camo" on all the boys looking at the deer.  He even made dad bigger- and gave them some hair. That was huge for him!
(He also wrote "he cut it up"- I know it's there...  :)  

This one was just too sweet/sad.  Her kitten died.  :( 

Hopefully we can keep up the good work using real, live sentences in stories.  They all have the best intentions. It is just what happens between the intention, the ideas, and the actual writing down on paper that doesn't work out as well as planned sometimes.  But it gets better every day most days!  (OK- not EVERY day-  some days it seems like landslide backwards and I think- WHAT?! ) 

Thank you for stopping by!  Have a wonderful day!


  1. Carolyn, this post is almost 3 years old, but it is wonderful and exactly what I needed for next week's lesson plans! Thanks!
    Teacher at the Wheel

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