Our oldest daughter Emma knows most of her letters and about half of the corresponding sounds. While working with the letters she doesn’t know, I noticed that they all have something in common, or rather a lack of something in common. Those letters mean absolutely nothing to her.
She quickly learned the letters “e”, “m”, and “a” because the most important word to her is “Emma.” She knows “d” says daddy, “i” says Isabelle (her little sister), and “c” says Cali (our awesome dog). The letter “y” should be a tricky one but she has YaYa (her Grandma) to thank for her intimate knowledge of the letter “y” and all of its glory. The letters and sounds she does not know have little connection to her. In an effort to combat that disconnect, I created a connection alphabet set…and it quickly turned into a family album!
What is a connection alphabet set? A connection alphabet set is a set with corresponding pictures that draw personal connections to the child/class. Personally, I filled most pictures with family photos; unfortunately, there still contained holes. To fill those gaps, I included pictures that proved significant to Emma. These pictures may not mean much to every child but each and every one of these is important to Emma, and that’s the point. I wanted this to be personal for my little egocentric five-year-old.
|Emma loves her some slurpees (from Target of course).|
|Up, perhaps the best movie ever, is her personal favorite and the most quoted movie of our family.|
|Emma would love to be a vet when she grows up (and a princess and dinosaur).|
|Emma craves ice cream (perhaps I passed that on to her).|
- Make your own alphabet book for your child and keep it around the house so he/she can get his/her hands on it whenever the desire hits…perhaps read it at bedtime.
- Instead of binding the set as a book, put these pictures up around the house for a constant visual reinforcement. These would be great to use for a letter hunt around the room!
Emma’s new border
- If you are a teacher, particularly a kindergarten teacher, and children are struggling in your classroom with connecting letters to known objects, consider making a class binder using each child’s name and objects around the room as “personal” examples of letters. The entire process could be a great activity. The class could work together to come up with picture ideas making for a fantastic phonemic scavenger hunt!
Perk: Perhaps the best part of the alphabet book – it’s free to create and not very expensive to print.
Instructions/Tips: Taking the photos and gathering old pictures proved the most time consuming aspect of the project (and the most fun). Once that portion was complete, I used a website called Picmonkey. Note – if you have never used Picmonkey before, start now – it’s user-friendly and it’s free.
Here is a quick tutorial to help guide you with Picmonkey.
- First, I suggest you gather (not all of your photos have to be previously taken – feel free to take new photos of objects that contain significance for your child) all of your alphabet pictures at once and save them under the same folder. This made the process much faster once everything was in the same place.
- Next, go to www.picmonkey.com and click on “design” at the top of the page.
- Choose the square option.
- Then, select a canvas color from the left-hand toolbar.
- Save this blank colored canvas if you want to have the same color background for every letter.
- Next, click on the text button on the left-hand toolbar labeled “Tt”.
- After that, choose the font you want to use and keep in mind this is for little eyes so it should be simple. I chose Didact Gothic for this reason.
- Type Aa, center, and choose the size you would like to use. Write down the font and size you use in case you need to make more at another time.
- Save and repeat through Z.
Note – this reads like it is difficult – trust me, it is REALLY easy.
Once these are saved and you have all of your pictures chosen and gathered, you can start creating your collages!
- At the picmonkey homepage, choose the collage option, which is right next to the design button.
- Upload the desired pictures for your first letter and don’t forget your letter picture you just created!
- Choose the layout of your choice by clicking on the collage button, which is the second from the top on the left-hand toolbar. I chose the first option under “Biggie Smalls” because I wanted two pictures per letter plus the letter tile.
- Click on the picture icon, the first option on the toolbar, to get back to your pictures. Drag and drop them where you want them.
- Once this is completed, you can hit edit at the top toolbar which is located directly above your collage. You will not be able to go back so make sure all of your pictures are centered how you want them.
- Click “Open in Editor” when prompted.
- Add text to each picture by using the “Tt” button just like you did when creating the letter tiles. I wanted a visual label under every picture to help reinforce the letter/sound connection.
- You can also sharpen or enhance your photo with the extra features available on the left.
- Save and repeat through Z!
I’m in the process of introducing our connection alphabet set to Emma and she love’s it. She is starting to make connections to letters that proved difficult in the past and I already observe a marked improvement. I wish you luck on your set. Remember to have fun!
One lucky reader will have the luxury of a 3 month membership to Picmonkey’s Royale service! The Royale membership unlocks all of the extra features Picmonkey offers. You will love the extra overlays, borders, and special effects that are offered with the Royale membership.
- Comment below with how you plan on using or making your alphabet set.
- Share this post on your facebook page. You can post the existing one easily from the Your Teacher’s Lounge facebook page!
- BOTH for two entries!
The winner will be randomly selected on Thursday, Oct. 9th. Good luck!