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Teaching the Alphabet to Struggling Readers

Do you have students who struggle to learn the alphabet? What do you do? One issue I've found is when they sing The Alphabet Song the letters "l,m,n,o and p" are not interpreted as individual letters, but as one long letter: lmnop.

Here’s an idea. We now know people are able to remember chunks of information easier than when they are separated. This is why phone numbers are in the format XXX-XXXX. We can better remember those pieces of information better when they are grouped together.

Now, consider the alphabet. If it were "chunked" like a phone number, students could play a fun game to help them memorize the alphabet.

"AplhaChunks" breaks the alphabet down into the sequences seen below. This is a more effective way to learn the alphabet.

For this activity, two people stand facing one another. In the beginning, this page is displayed for all players to view and refer to if necessary. Your student decides if he/she wants to read the red letters or the black ones. Then you toss a ball back and forth while reciting the chunks one at a time. (The ball is used to add increased input to the pathways in the brain. Our brains are programmed to remember the unusual, by adding music or play into the game helps to attract and maintain our attention.)

Player 1 says, “a, b, c, d”. Then the ball is tossed to player 2 who then says, “e, f, g”. The ball is then passed back to player 1 and the cycle continues. As time progresses your student will refer to the chart less and less. When they are writing their alphabet, they may be able to remember their letters in this sequence thereby making it easier for them.

They may write a, b, c, d, and then e, f, g, and then get stuck. I would toss the ball to them as I recite e, f, g so that they need to respond with the next chunk h, i, j, k. I have found this activity to be the single most effective way to help my students learn their alphabet.

Download and Print "AlphaChunks" and a copy of the instructions here.

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