Metalinguistic knowledge (knowledge about language) is important for all children, but especially for children learning English as an additional language. I use these activities to introduce very young children to the basic alphabetic categories they will encounter throughout their schooling. I’ve used the song and activities with children aged 3 – 7. They all seem to enjoy it, and we have even performed it for parents.
The key learning objectives for these activities are:
- Children will learn that the English alphabet contains 5 vowels.
- Children will learn the letter names of the vowels.
- Children will be able to identify vowels within a word
- Children will begin to understand and use the terms alphabet, letter, word, vowel.
- Children will also gain exposure to the written forms of the English words that they are most likely to encounter.
This lesson plan gives instructions for 4 quick and simple games, a song about vowels, ways to extend the song for more advanced learners, and a template letter to send home to families. Suitable for very young children with little or no prior experience with English literacy.
Warning! It’s catchy!
These are large one-to-a-page cards, that I use for class games, displays, and when the children are performing the song. The vowels are color-coded to make their names easier to remember. I tried to use colors that sound like their names. A is gray, E is green, I is white, O is yellow, U is blue. I didn’t color code Y because it isn’t a vowel, and I couldn’t for the life of me think of a color that rhymed with it! They are all lower case, as that is the case in which children are far more likely to encounter letters, and is also the case that is used for the words in the later activities. It’s important to remind the children that this lesson uses the letter names, and not letter sounds. The distinction between letter sounds and letter names can be confusing at first, but stick with it – it’s important!
I use these for extension activities. Children practice finding the vowels in these familiar words. The common words were taken from the Dolch List of common words, and are roughly in order of frequency. Words with ‘y’ instead of a vowel are at the end of the set.
This set contains the same words as above, but with the vowels highlighted and color-coded. This makes it easier for young children to identify the vowels.
For English language learners, I find that many of the common words from the Dolch List are abstract and difficult to understand, so I use this list instead. This is the Dolch list of common nouns found in children’s books. I added a few that I was surprised to see missing from the list – ‘Mom’, ‘Mum’, ‘Dad’, ‘computer’ and ‘book’.
These are the same words as above, but with the vowels highlighted and color-coded.
The same words again, but with images for each word. A few of these words (such as ‘good-bye’) were very difficult to represent, so I’ve left them blank. Others, such as ‘home’ or ‘mother’ were very difficult to represent in just one image. I’ve done the best that I can, but if you have any suggestions or comments, please contact me.
Introduce these when your students are ready to learn the exceptions to the rule!
Use these if you think I’ve forgotten any important words, or if you want to use the student’s names.