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By Helen Bromleyfreelance consultant and writer

Make the children in your setting the centre of attention with more ideas from Helen Bromley’s book M is for Me! This second article in a series of three offers further ideas for using resources to make the alphabet exciting

B is for brachiosaurus

...’b’ is for ‘brachiosaurus’

This dinosaur page is a sample from the complete dinosaur alphabet in M is for Me!. You can use it to talk about the oversized brachiosaurus, and compare him to the ankylosaurus from last month’s download.

...’b’ is for ‘benefits of technology’

If you read last month’s article, you will know that the downloadable taster pages provide a template for inserting photos of the children in your setting holding familiar objects beginning with the focus letter.

This month, encourage the children to find objects beginning with the letter ‘b’. These could be found in the setting, at home or outdoors. When they have collected the objects, take photos of the children holding them.

Insert the photos on to the template page, and complete the text box below. If you are not sure about how to do this, simply go to the first page and click on the ‘Show me how’ for a step-by-step tutorial. You can create multiple copies of the page to accommodate all the photos that you have taken.

Look out for the final article in this series next month, with downloads for the letter ‘c’ and an exciting treasure hunt for ‘a’, ‘b’ and ‘c’

Top tips for using the page you have created

  • When the children arrive at the setting, display the completed page on the screen and place a beautiful basket, box or bag nearby. Invite the children to work with a friend to find an item to put into the container that begins with the same letter as that shown on the screen. Extend the activity by providing some paper and asking the children to write down words that they know beginning with that particular sound.
  • Make a recording of the children reading the text shown on the page. Add this to the alphabet so that the children can hear the page read out loud. If you are not sure how to add the children’s voices that you have recorded, go to the ‘Show me how’ tutorial on the first page in the download.
  • Print copies of the page and laminate them for durability.
  • When the children are familiar with the onscreen page and the letter ‘b’, give individual cards to pairs of children and ask them to go and find as many objects around the setting as they can that begin with the letter ‘b’.
  • Encourage the children to go on a setting-wide print search. Provide a clipboard and pencils and challenge the children to see how many words they can find that begin with that particular letter, then talk together about what they have found.

The ideas and downloads in this article are tasters of what you can create with the help of Helen Bromley’s M is for Me! book and CD-ROM, reproduced here by kind permission of Yellow Door. These offer many more templates and ideasfor 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.

Boy on computer

‘m’ is for ‘my name’

M is for Me! also includes many activities around alphabet photocards and the children’s name cards. The children’s names are of deep personal interest to them, and you can use this knowledge to great effect, to develop not only an interest in written language, but also increased phonological and phonemic awareness.

In a word document, in landscape format and font size 72, type up the children’s first names and surnames. You should be able to fit two names per A4 page.

If appropriate, work with the children in small groups so that they can each type their own names into the computer. Work based around the computer keyboard, particularly collaborative work, is an ideal context for talking and thinking about letters and sounds.

As you work with the children, encourage them all to think aloud as this will make your strategies for encoding speech very clear indeed.

Talk about:

  • the letters that the children’s names begin with
  • any names beginning with the same letter
  • any double letters in the names.

Sitting in front of the onscreen print will help to prompt the children to make comments about what they notice. Make time to listen to, observe and record such comments.

Print all the names off and laminate them individually, then use them in the following ways:

  • Place some moveable letters in a magical looking bag. Let the children take turns to choose a letter from the bag. How many names can they find that begin with that letter?
  • Many children in the Foundation Stage will enjoy using the name cards to make their own attendance or dinner register, especially at the same time as the adult!
  • Help the children to write their names. There may be other words from their names that they can spell. For example, Matthew could learn to spell ‘mat’, ‘at’ and ‘the’, and William could spell ‘I am Will’.
  • Make the name cards available for the children to use independently, to create their own games, puzzles and activities.