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A is for ABC Club
ABC Club: For PreK and Early Elementary Homeschoolers
Our homeschool group had a great time with a year-long ABC Club. Kids from age 3 to age 6, 7, and even 8 were able to have fun on equal footing whether they had already begun reading or didn't know the alphabet yet.
Letter of the Week
Letter of the Week
Each week (or every other week, however often you are meeting), one letter will be showcased. This does not have to be in alphabetical order! Possible order of letters could be:
* letter frequency (start with the letters that appear most often in words)
* letters that commonly go together (do T one week and follow with H the next, then do TH the third week)
* look at the calendar and assign each letter to a week with that has a holiday starting with that letter (do V on the week of February 14th, for Valentine's Day)
* start with the letters that begin the names of each child in the group (do M for Mary, D for Doug, S for Sarah, etc)
* no order at all; let moms choose the letters they want to teach, and choose the dates they want to teach, and let the letters fall as they may
If you include the different consonant sounds (soft c, hard c, etc), the blends (ch, th, etc), and counting a few weeks for review, holiday, and times when no one can make it, the ABC Club will extend for a whole school year!
Small Foam Alphabet Puzzle
How It Works
The ABC homeschool club works for several ages and stages of reading development at once!
This preschool club works because each family focuses on one letter at home for the week, at whatever level the child needs to be working. The one thing everyone does in common, the linchpin of the group meeting, is a letter book (or individual pages).
So during the week, each family focuses on the letter "A" in whatever way they choose to work into their day: one family may eat apricots and asparagus, find Africa and Algeria on the map, read a book about ants, and visit the airport (or everyone may do this as a group field trip); while another family does workshops and phonics games. Each family does as much or as little work on the LOTW as they wish, and in the way they choose.
ABC Means Fun!
The primary purpose of the meeting is for the kids to have fun together, see that others are working on the same thing, get to show off what they learned, and do a couple of activities to cement their learning that week.
Letter Books (or Pages)
ABC Club Highlight!
The biggest hit of our ABC Club, the thing that got the kids excited to come each week, was the show-and-tell portion of the meeting. During the week, each child would make a page (or pages) featuring the LOTW to share during the meeting. Even the most retiring children wanted to share!
* child draws pictures of things starting with the LOTW
* print out black and white LOTW pictures for child to color and paste
* child cuts and pastes LOTW pictures from magazines
* child takes pictures of things starting with LOTW to print, cut, and paste on pages
In the example page shown, my son and I took pictures of things - and people! - in our daily life. I typed big captions on each picture before printing (on regular paper, no need to use photo paper), and he pasted them into his spiral-bound scrapbook. I used big block letter stickers to show which letter or blend we were highlighting on that page.
Children who do individual pages rather than a scrapbook or spiral notebook can keep them loose in a file folder, or hole-punch the pages and put in a binder, or even drop them into page protectors in a binder.
At the meeting, each child gets to stand and show off his or her letter page and talk about the items they chose to include. My kids always enjoyed talking about their pictured family members most!
Letting your child take pictures of things and people in her everyday life will heighten interest and speed learning!
Letter A: Songs for the Sounds of "A"
Make up simple songs to help retain phonics learning.
Sing to the tune of "Are You Sleeping/Frere Jacques" (you have to work in an extra line near the end, but it fits easily enough).
"A" has three sounds,
"A" has three sounds,
"AH", "AY", "AW"
"AH", "AY", "AW"
"AH" is for "apple"
"AY" is for "apron"
"AW" is for "awesome"
"AH", "AY", "AW"
This song not only teaches the three most common sounds of the letter "A," it teaches them in order of frequency. Tell the children when reading to try the sounds in the same order as they sing them: try "AH" first, then "AY," and then "AW" to find the right sound.
Moms Take Turns Leading the ABC Club
Each mom picks a week to lead the group activities for a certain letter.
At your planning meeting, divide up the letters among the teaching parents. It's always fun to take the letter that your name or your child's name starts with, or the subject of your favorite picture book, or your favorite holiday ... you get the idea.
You can decide how much structure you want in your group, but we enjoyed having some leeway: we each created our own plan for our letters, and the kids enjoyed the variety. Brainstorm a list of possible activities so everyone has a list of ideas available to help jumpstart their thinking, but each teaching mom can choose what she is comfortable doing, or what works for her plan that week. Some ideas to get you started:
* Bring a snack that starts with the LOTW.
* Bring a read-aloud storybook whose theme matches the LOTW.
* Draw and make copies of a picture for the kids to color (Annie wears an apron when she feeds her pet ant, Alfred).
* Find or make up a poem or song about the LOTW.
* Bring instruments that start with the LOTW (harmonica, guitar, violin).
* Do a scavenger hunt through the house to find objects that start with the LOTW.
Letter B: Storybook for Storytime! - High interest assures better understanding and retention!
Sure, it's easy to find a phonics book that showcases the letter you are teaching. But who really wants to read a book like that? Believe me, if you don't find it entertaining, probably the kids don't either! It doesn't take much work to find a really good book that will highlight your letter. It could be a cool book about ants for "A," or a storybook that happens to emphasize the letter you are working on. Make sure it is a story first, not an educational text that tries to construct a storyline around the letter.
This brilliant book manages to highlight the letter B with ease ("Ben's dad went to the store and bought a bigger bed") while telling a bang-up story - one of my family's best-loved books! When Ben is born he sleeps with his parents; not a bother until he gets bigger. A bigger bed solves the problem until Billy is born. The next bigger bed works until the twins, Beth and Bart, are born, so Dad finally builds the biggest bed in the world, that easily boards even the triplets, Bella, Bart, and Boris, when they come along. Things go well until the biggest bed in the world breaks through the wall and they all end up in the lake. Clever little eyes will catch the cat and dog being pregnant at the same time mom is, and it's fun to track down all the kittens and puppies prancing through the pages.
Some letters take on a different sound when combined with other letters (called "blends"). You may want to give each letter sound or blend its own week and page.
Wall of Names
The kids in your ABC Club will enjoy seeing their names in print!
This only works if you are always meeting in the same home each week, but it's fun to make a wall of names of the children in the group. Give each child a sheet of paper with his or her name written in BIG, bold outlined letters (do this on the computer or by hand), and let each child color or decorate the letters individually, then glue the child's picture next to the decorated name. Hang the picture pages on a wall where you are meeting so everyone can see them each week and have practice reading the names.
Letter C: Carrots for "C" - You can find wonderful stories to highlight the letter you are learning each week!
Bring carrot seeds, cups, and a bag of potting soil and let the kids plant their own carrots after reading Ruth Krauss's The Carrot Seed.
"I'm afraid it won't come up!" is the message given to the little boy who plants a carrot seed and faithfully waters it and pulls the weeds. Patiently ignoring the naysayers, the little boy has the last word when he pulls an enormous carrot from the ground. This delightful tale is illustrated by Crockett Johnson, author of Harold and the Purple Crayon.
Field Trips by Letter
A field trip is a great way to highlight a letter study.
~ A ~
airport, animal rescue, arboretum, archery range,
art gallery, author tour
~ B ~
bakery, bank, Bass Pro Shop, beekeeper, berry picking, bike ride, blood bank, book bindery, book signing, bookstore,
botanical gardens, bowling, bus depot
~ C ~
Cabela's Sporting Goods, campout, candy factory, capitol building, construction site, corn maze, courthouse
~ Soft C ~
cell phone company, city bus ride
~ CH ~
chandler (candle maker), cheerleading tryouts, children's museum, chicken farm, china shop, Chinatown, chocolate factory, Christmas caroling, church tour
While visiting the candy factory, the kids
got to make their own chocolate pizzas!
~ D ~
dairy farm, dentist, delicatessen, dinosaur museum, doll factory,
donut shop, doctor's office, dude ranch
~ E ~
egg hunt, electric power plant, electronics manufacturer,
~ F ~
~ G ~
gardens, ghost town, glass blower, greenhouse,
grocery store, gravel supply
~ Soft G ~
gemologist, geology lab, gymnasium
Tasting cactus candy at the botanical gardens was fun!
~ H ~
hay ride, herb farm/shop, hiking, historic home, historical reenactments, history museum, horse farm, horseback ride, hospital
~ I ~
ice cream parlor, ice skating, IMAX movie,
Indian reservation, iron foundry
~ J ~
jailhouse, jelly/jam kitchen, jelly bean factory, jeweler
~ K ~
karate exhibition, kennel, kiln (pottery oven),
kitchen (restaurant) tour, Krispy Kreme tour
~ L ~
lake trip, laser tag, letterboxing, library
~ M ~
We all brought water bottles on the ranger-led hike.
~ N ~
natural history museum, nature walk, newspaper press,
night sky watching, nursery (plants), nursing home
~ O ~
opera, optometrist, orchard, orchestra, organic farm, orienteering
~ P ~
paper mill, perfumery, planetarium, police station, post office,
pottery shop, printing press, pumpkin patch
~ PH ~
phone company, photography shop/club
~ Q ~
quarry, quilting club
~ R ~
radio station, race track, ranger hike, recycling center,
Renaissance fair, repair shop, rescue shelter,
roller skating, rock climbing
The size of the rooms in the recycling center was a shock.
~ S ~
scavenger hunt, science museum/lab/fair, self-defense class,
Society for Creative Anachronism, state capitol,
state park, symphony
~ SH ~
shape walk, Shaker village, shooting range, shore (beach)
~ T ~
television station, train depot, travel agency,
trucks (city maintenance vehicles)
~ TH ~
theater (live/puppet/movie/dinner), thrift store
~ U ~
U-Haul, university museum, upholstery shop, urban farm
~ V ~
vet clinic, video store, violin recital, volunteering
~ W ~
walk (nature), water treatment plant, wax museum,
weather station, wildlife refuge
~ Y ~
yoga class, yogurt shop
~ Z ~
~ Find Field Trips in Your Area ~
Remember most of the teaching
goes on at home!
If you meet for an hour, a good
half of that will go to the kids' show and tell of their letter pages,
plus time for snacks.
The mom of the week only needs
a storybook, a snack, and one or two activities or songs, maybe followed by a coloring page, and her job is done!
Own Your Own ABC Club!
Make this homeschool club work for YOUR group!
These are all just ideas to get you started. There are so many different ways to structure a group like this! Have fun with it! Start with a meeting of the moms involved and have a brainstorming session. Use this page as a jumping off place, not an end place! And remember to have fun!
Don't forget to have a wrap party at the end of your school year with a letter scavenger hunt for all the letters the kids learned!
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