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As Easy as ABC

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I teach K-3 ESL in a public school - this game is good for K-1 ESL students who are learning their ABCs and their sounds.

The first thing you need is an ABC puzzle - I got mine at the Dollar Store. Mine is foam with pop-out letters. I used a black permanent marker to write the letters again on each letter (only because for younger kids the outline of the letter was a little difficult & this way they definitely know which way the letters go).

Next, split your class up into groups - I usually do two groups because I have no more than 7 students in each pull-out class. Then, I push all of the letters out of the puzzle and put them on the table, face-up.

Next, I have one person in each group pick a number between 1 & 5 to see who goes first (you know how this works).

Then, I ask Student 1 (S1) to find the letter ____. In order to get a point for his/her team, S1 has to find the letter by him/herself and then tell me the letter's sound and a word that begins with that letter & sound. So, if I say, "Find me the letter 'C'", S1 has to find it and then say, "C-ca-cat" or "C-sa-celery", but they can't get the point if they say, "C-ca-celery" becuase it's the wrong sound.

After S1 is done in group one, I go to S1 in group two, then S2 in group one and S2 in group two, etc. I use tally marks to incorporate a different way to visualize numbers.

Sometimes it's hard for K-1 students to except the fact they got one wrong, so I always butter up the situation with positive reinforcement. If I have a newcomer w/ less English, or a student who still is lacking in his/her ABCs and their sounds, then I always try to pick the easier letters for them to find, like A, B, D, etc., not C, G, H, etc. (the ones they're more apt to make a mistake on).

The kids love this game and it's a good way to reinforce their ABCs and sounds to further develop their reading skills. You can give prizes to the winning team (like stickers or stamps), but sometimes this causes heartache for the kids who didn't win, so I usually just say, "Great job, everyone! Maybe next time Team Two will win!"

Stephanie García G.
a small city, New York

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