It is no secret that I taught in my dream classroom last year. I loved my room and I know that many of you did too, because I continue to get fresh new comments on that old blog post. I also get a lot of questions, especially about my alphabet wall. Teachers love how pretty it looks and want to know more. What do I use it for? Where did I get the letters? Do my students do something with the board?
I am so excited to FINALLY answer all of your questions today!
This is how my alphabet bulletin board looks in the fall. Brightly colored and empty. (Keep reading to the end for an explanation of how I created my letters).
Using the Alphabet Board for Instruction
I do a Letter of the Week in my classroom. (Yes, we learn about a variety of letters all year long, every chance that I get to teach letters and their sounds.) The Letter of the Week just gets more attention than all the other letters that week.
I announce the focus letter on Monday morning. I remove the letter of study from the bulletin board when I introduce the letter and its sound to the class. Then we create a list of words that begin with that letter. I put a note in each child's letter that explains the new letter of the week to parents, along with the students' homework for the week. This part is really fun. Each child is responsible for looking in magazines or newspapers to find a picture that begins with the featured letter. All homework assignments are due by Friday. Typically, a few pictures come in each day throughout the week. During calendar time each day, I gather the students around while I open the envelopes and glue their pictures onto the letter for the week.
When we begin the Letter of the Week, each student receives an envelope labeled with his/her name and number. I laminate all of the envelopes and they hold up great for the duration of the school year.
I usually take a few moments to trim each picture down so I can fit as many as possible onto the letter. When a student brings a really BIG image, I usually glue these onto the back of the letter. If I run out of space before Friday, all of those pictures are glued onto the back as well. My students take it in stride without complaint. I also encourage my students to bring photos of themselves when we study the letter at the beginning of their first name.
By the end of the week, my letter collages look something like this.
Putting the letters back in the correct location on the board is a breeze. As you probably know by now I am a teensy little bit on the fussy side. Actually, I'm an all-out fussy-pants. My letters are equally spaced apart and in a straight line. I want to re-hang the letters easily at the end of each study so when I set up the bulletin board in the fall, I mount all of the letters on a slightly larger white piece of construction paper that is stapled to the board beneath the brightly colored letter. The plain white letter is a great visual reminder to my students of what we are studying that week and it clearly marks where I need to re-hang the collage letter.
By the end of the school year, my completed alphabet board looks like this! It is a great visual reminder for the students of each letter and sound that we have learned together.
How I Made My Letters
My method for creating these letters can be summed up in 3 words: THE HARD WAY. My school has alphabet die-cuts that are about 5" tall. They were not big enough, but I loved the simple block style of each letter. So I cut out each letter on the die cut machine, then placed each one on the school copier and enlarged the image significantly. That created a whole set of black letters on white copy paper. I wanted a template that I could use year after year so I traced the black letters onto old file folders so I would have a stencil. Each year I trace the alphabet stencils onto colored cardstock paper. For a few years, I used construction paper but I did not like how fast it faded in my sunny classroom. I have found that the cardstock holds it's color so much BETTER.
Lucky for you, I have learned a few tricks along the way. If you have a Cricut or a Cameo Silhouette, save yourself some work and let the machine do all the cutting!
If you still have to do things the old fashioned way, I created a set of Alphabet Wall Templates that you can download for free. Just print, cut the letters out and use them to create your own classroom alphabet.
*One quick note: these letters were created on my computer using the best font I could find that most closely resembles the letters on my alphabet wall. It is not an exact match. The letters in my template are a bit more narrow and less chunky, but again, It's a good start.
**Another quick note: Not every letter fit perfectly onto 8.5x11" paper. Some letters were too wide to fit on the page. For these letters, you will have to use your imagination (and hopefully a ruler) to continue the rest of the letters onto 12x12" cardstock. Sorry, but this was the best I could do!
Take a Tour
Want to see more of my bright and sunny classroom? Check out last year's blog post and see photos of the entire room.
Peek into My New Classroom
This year I am moving to a new building and starting my classroom from scratch! The classroom is still in-progress but you can check out the "before" pictures!