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By Helen Bromleyfreelance consultant and writer

This new three-part series focuses on Helen Bromley’s book M is for Me! Here it offers ideas for using photos of the children to create unique and exciting alphabet resources

A is for...

There can be no doubt that, in order to be effective readers and writers, all children need to learn the letters that make up the alphabet, and the sounds that they represent. Young children have a tendency to be egocentric, and so involving them in making alphabet resources that reflect themselves and their interests will ensure a high level of interest.

M is for Me! makes it easy for you to create an alphabet that is personal to the children, using photos of the children holding a range of familiar objects.

There are many advantages to making a personalised alphabet. For example:

  • You will have a resource that is tailor-made to the needs and interests of the children.
  • You will be able to use objects, places and images that the children are familiar with, and which reflect the individuality, culture and locality of the setting.
  • The children will be engaged in the process of creating the resource, which will lead to an increased sense of ownership.
  • The children will be involved in producing the resources, which in turn will offer invaluable opportunities for talking about and demonstrating the relationship between spoken and written language, and for building on what the children already know and can do.

The following ideas and downloads provide a taster of a resource that you can create for the whole alphabet.

Come back in October and November for articles and downloads on the letters ‘b’ and ‘c’

Download the taster ebook pages for the letter ‘a’. These are available in SMART Notebook, Promethean Activprimary and PowerPoint.

‘a’ is for ‘ankylosaurus’

a is for ankylosaurus

The dinosaur page is a sample from the complete dinosaur alphabet in M is for Me!. Talk with the children about the ankylosaurus. Encourage them to tell you anything that they already know about it, such as what it might have used its large tail for, and so on.

‘a’ is for ‘anything’!

a is for anything

The next page is a template where you can insert photographs of the children holding objects beginning with the letter ‘a’.

Try to avoid presenting the children with a set of objects that you have previously selected. If you do this, you will have lost a valuable learning opportunity, and it cuts down the level of involvement the children can have in the process. Instead, work with small groups of children to find objects beginning with ‘a’. The objects may be from your setting or brought in from home.

Remember to look outside as well as inside the setting. Talk to the children about the different items that they might choose – make suggestions, listen to their ideas, and work with what they know and are interested in.

Provide a selection of alphabet books for the children to look through and see how the letter ‘a’ is represented in them.

Many children will have knowledge of letters and sounds that are in words of personal interest, for example, their own names and those of family members, pets and friends. Use this awareness in the conversations that you have with the children, and help them to make the links with what they already know.

When you have found a suitable number of objects beginning with the letter ‘a’, use a digital camera to take photos of the children holding an object, ensuring that the object will be clearly visible when the photograph has been printed.

M is for me

These ideas and downloads are tasters of what you can create with Helen Bromley’s M is for Me! book and CD-ROM, reproduced here by kind permission of Yellow Door. These offer more templates and ideas for collecting a complete alphabet in photos and turning it into your own alphabet book, onscreen ebook and alphabet card activities. Visit Yellow Door or call 0845 603 5309 to find out more.

Adding photos and text

It is very easy to add your own photos and text to the template page. However, if you are uncertain, go to the instructions page and click on the ‘Show me how’ links for a step-by-step tutorial.

You can copy the page as many times as necessary to accommodate the number of photos you have taken.

Completing the text box on the page with the children offers a range of teaching opportunities. Consider completing it in a variety of ways, for example:

  • with a single upper or lowercase ‘a’
  • with both the upper and lowercase letters
  • by embedding the letter in a simple sentence, for example, ‘apple begins with a’, ‘a is for apple’, ‘I spy with my little eye, something beginning with a’.

Encourage the children to think of other ideas.