June 25, 2017

Ten affective activities to play and learn with alphabet letters

Every English teacher has given classes in which he or she has taught students the sounds of letters and has given support for them to spell their first and last names. Even though letters appear in the first levels, it is not unusual even for intermediate students to have some trouble spelling. 

In this post I share 10 affective activities for you to expand your activity repertoire beyond singing the ABC song and playing hangman. I call them affective because we always have to play using our affect, either by choosing words we like, creating strategies, or just playing. Make sure you have 3 or 4 alphabet sets for these activities for a small group of students. If you are with a larger group, you will need many more. 

Here I share some creative alphabet activities that will engage your students. 

1. Choosing words you like: here students choose words that they have read or listened in a story and then they write these, spell them and say why they like them. This activity can be done in the following two ways: students can choose the word and write them and other students check and spell or the student who chose the word can spell and other students have to guess and write it with the letters. Make sure that students always share why they have selected that word. If your students are really motivated, you can even invite them to make a song with the words the group has chosen!

2. Letter theater: here you can create a scenario with your students in which they add things that can be seen in a certain place. You can decide with them any place, ranging from a spaceship, the classroom, a kitchen or the beach. Each student adds one piece at a time.

You can have students use a structure such as "I see a/an ... ", "Have you seen there is a/an ... ?" or any other that you are working with. After you finish the setting, you can ask students in pairs to remember what each letter stands for and even to create a story with all these components.

Here you have a beach setting with the following elements starting from the bottom to the top: whale, fish, wave, surfer, sand, child and her mother, seagull, cloud and the sun!

And advanced variation would be to give all students a chosen combination of letters and they come up with a setting.

3. Letter interaction: here students pick a letter and say a thing that starts with that letter. If one student has chosen B and a banana, he or she can pretend to be eating it. Another  student can have a B which is a butterfly that suddenly flies away, and a third one can have a U for an umbrella that he has in case it starts raining.  Once learners have their things you can ask them to exchange the things they have for others, ask them which go together, make a story, or even line up according to some criteria (size, price, etc).

Variation: you can have the first person starting with a letter and a thing and the next has to do something related to that first thing. Let's say the first students has a Flower, then the second has a Bee, than the next one Honey, and another the Sun, etc. It is easier if you allow students to choose the letter instead of having them come up with something with the letter they have been given.

4. Letter story with words that begin with the letter: here students make sentences with each word starting with the letters that are in a certain order.

Students can make the following sentences for the letters in the sequences above: 

In the easy variation students can insert other words to make their sentence: 
An elephant watched a duck climbing on a white goose. 

In the harder variation students can only use words that start with the letters:
Once upon a time many lions ate spinach. 

5. Anagrams: in this classic activity students write a word for every letter of their names. These words can be adjectives that are characteristics of the students, verbs that they like to do, or things they have. As you have probably thought this is a great activity for students to introduce themselves. The words can either cross any letter of a student's name of can start with the letters in a student's name.

Anagrams be done both at the beginning and at the end of courses. In the beginning students do their own names and at the end students do the name of one of their classmates.

6. Scrabble: in a similar way students make a crossword writing words about a certain topic using the letters they have available. You can play it individually or you can have them playing it in groups.

7. Wordsearch: here you can prepare a wordsearch like the one below for students to find words related to a certain topic. The catch here is for you to tell students only the topic, and not the actual hidden words.

See you can find five words in this wordsearch that I have prepared for you. The topic is teaching. Write the words in the comment session below!

8. Guess before I finish spelling it: a fun way to play with the letters is this game that I play with with my students. I start spelling a word and students go finding the letters and writing the words. The challenge is for them to discover the word before I spell it until the end. It's quite fun!

9. Socratic Answers: here students have to answer questions using words that start with the letter that they have chosen. Example for a students that got the letter B:

What's your name? Boris
Where are you from? Bulgaria
What's your favorite food? Bulgarian banitsa - contribution from Mineva Rositsa! Thank you!
What do you do during your free time? Bake cakes
What is your favorite sport? Basketball


10. Domino: in this easy and fun activity students make word chains always using the first and last letters of the words that have been played. As a challenge you can tell students that they have to close the chain finding a word that starts with the first and last letters of the words in the beginning and in the end of the chain. In the picture here that word could be "sum".

And here you get the traditional bonus activities! Gotta make the reader satisfied! 

Bonus 1 - Scrambled letters: here you give the scrambled letters of a word and then students have to guess and write the word. You can give one hint at a time to make the students discover it. You can tell the context where the word is used, if it's a verb, and so on. Then students do the same to each other. 

Bonus 2 -  Bananagram: in this game a group of students has to use all their letters they have to make a crossword like the one in the picture. In order for them to achieve this goal they will need to change their words several times. Getting the actual game is really nice, but you will need many sets to play with a large classroom. The plastic letters will do fine and you can just use the rules of the game. 
Bonus 3: Make a letter doll: I saved the most creative to the end! I always like to present different kinds of material without telling students what we are going to do with them. I remember being with this very creative girl that started making letters characters as soon as I put the letters on the floor. It really pays of wait and see what your students will come up with!                                                                                                                                                                         You can them use the letters here to describe the personality of the character and the things it likes doing. Our character here has white hair, and it is very elegant, it's a violent and likes to fight, but it can be docile sometimes. It has a watch and a medal for playing soccer! 

Wow! What a fun-tastic post!
I hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it.

Do you have any different activities do you do with letters?
Share them in the comment area below. I will love to hear from you!



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1 comment:

  1. Great job Juan, I'm not only going to share it, but also practice in class! Thank you so much!


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