Of all the ways to invite kids to put letters together, this simple method has appealed to my more of my phonemically aware students than any other. It’s simple to create, though it takes some time. To do this you will need:
-some black foam board (for maximum contrast)
-copies of letters in a font that is familiar to your kids
There is something very compelling and satisfying about velcro and these letters are no exception. Laminate and apply velcro to all the letters you want. Over the years, I’ve made both capital and lowercase letters for use with kids at different levels. Let’s face it, the experts are right – most reading material a child encounters is in lowercase letters but uppercase letters are easier to write, which is why we often start teaching name writing with capital letters. So I have plenty of both that I’ve collected in these handy containers. Each container has 16 small sections and 1 larger section. So I have 2 containers to keep all of my letters together. One of the larger sections has letters that need to go “to the Dr.” – for repair. The larger section of the other container has sight words for beginning readers.
After all of the laminating, the cutting, and applying of velcro on the backs of each letter, you are almost ready for spelling fun. First make a word board – by cutting sections of foamboard to apply the other side of velcro to. The dimensions of my word boards are about 3 inches by 8 inches. I have a set of them for use with a small group. I teach the kids from the start that their words always start under the star (in upper left hand corner).
So what do we do with these? One place to start is by giving the kids word boards with the letters to make their names. In the beginning, I also give them a copy of their name. So at this first level, the kids are just matching letters. After they master that, I don’t give the model; I just have them sequence the letters of their name.
For kids who are learning word families, I use the letters for encoding. I might put the letters for a word such as ‘cat’ on their word board. Then I might give them a couple of other consonants such as ‘b’ and ‘r.’ You see where I’m going with this, right? I might prompt them to change ‘cat’ into ‘bat’ and then into rat.
The thing I like about the velcro is that it holds the letters in place. Magnetic letters stay in place but the fonts of pre-purchased magnetic letters are usually some thick funky font, unlike the simple fonts used in books. The thing the kids like about the velcro letters is the sensory experience of velcro.
My final word about this is that velcro can be quite pricey, right? Unless you find a dollar store that sells it. I can buy 18″ strips of velcro at our local grocery store in the dollar section for about…one dollar! Of course that means I have to cut it but no more asking the secretary to order boxes of the expensive velcro coins from the office supply store, no sir!