We have just completed the 10th lesson of the 78 included in the program, so now that we are really getting into it and have a good feel for how it works, I thought you might like to see what a typical day’s lesson looks like.
To put it quite simply, the first 26 lessons, which cover all the capital letters, follow this pattern:
- Sing the Alphabet Song
- Complete the Letter Activities
- ZigZag Zebra poem
- ABC Craft Sheet
- More Fun with the Alphabet
- Language Exploration (activity/game)
- Read-Aloud Time
I am using the program with 4 year old, Luke, and 2 year old, Lilah, (who will turn 3 later this summer). These photos and descriptions are from Lesson 6: Capital Letter F.
Prepping the Lesson
First, I get out my All About Reading tote bag and pull out the Teacher’s Manual.
By this lesson I feel totally comfortable and I do not even look at it beforehand; it’s really that simple! I open to the lesson for the day. Today is Capital F. Most lessons in the teacher manual cover the front and back of a page. You can click the photos to enlarge them.
#1. Sing the Alphabet Song
We start by singing the alphabet song and pointing to the letters on the Capital Letter Chart as each letter is named. L&L like to use pointers for this part.
After we sing the alphabet song, we point to the letter of the day – “F” – on the chart.
#2. Complete the Letter Activities
Part 1. ZigZag Zebra Poem-
Next, we head over to the couch where we cozy up to read the letter F poem from the book The ZigZag Zebra. Each poem is very short and usually silly. Luke laughs a lot when we read them. We try to find a capital F in the poem.
Part 2. ABC Craft Sheet-
After reading, I pull the “My Book of Letters” book from my tote bag and tear out the ABC Craft Sheet for capital letter F. (I have two of these; one for each child. If you are using the program with multiple children, this is the ONLY part you need to buy extra!) I quickly read the directions for the craft which are printed on the back of the craft sheet itself.
I think our supply of crafts is quite average, but I have yet to come across anything needed for one of these crafts that we don’t have on hand already! I appreciate that the crafts are fun, yet I don’t need to run to the store in order to do them!!
For the letter F craft, we just need crayons, an orange marker, and a pen. We move from the couch to the children’s work table, and I help each of them make their first thumbprint fish. Then they make additional fish for their pond on their own.
Luke draws on his own fish’s tails.
I help Lilah with hers and then she adds the eyes.
They color the rest of their pictures…
…and proudly display their finished “F” craft sheets!
Part 3. More Fun with the Alphabet-
The next part of the lesson varies from day to day. It’s a hands-on activity that helps the children learn about the letter of the alphabet on which we’re currently working. There’s a list of suggestions on page 195 in the teacher’s manual; you can choose whichever activity you want to do or even substitute your own.
One of my favorite activities for this part of the lesson is to get out our sandpaper letters. We have them in two sizes. The first ones are standard Montessori Capital sandpaper letters. I model how to trace the “F” with 2 fingers and then watch the children take turns practicing.
Then I get out our mini letters from Polliwog Learning Products’ Etsy shop and we trace the letter “F” with one finger.
Once both children have traced each tactile letter a couple of times, I place them within easy sight of the kids and get our their salt trays. We made these ourselves. (See the post here.) L&L practice tracing the letter in the salt tray, using the sandpaper letters for reference.
Luke is pretty good at the independent letter writing; for Lilah, sometimes I have to model the letter and let her trace it a few times, and sometimes I help to guide her hand. Today is the first day she wrote a letter without my help and got it totally right on her own. Can you tell she KNOWS she did it right???
#3. Letter Exploration
After we’ve finished our letter practice, it’s time for the “Language Exploration” part of our lesson…aka it’s GAME time! This part of the lesson is where we practice phonological awareness, a Big Five skill. So far, all our “Language Explorations” have been dealing with rhyme. The game for today is called “Get Out of the Wagon!” and we played it once before with letter C. L&L really had fun with this game!
To prepare, I simply take out the wagon sheet which was in their “My Book of Letters” and get the Lesson 6 cards out of the Activity Box. It’s literally grab and go. The kids and I name each card in the stack to be sure everyone knows what each picture represents, and then we start playing. I lay 3 cards in their wagon, 2 of which rhyme and 1 that does not.
L&L take turns saying the words in their wagon; I help if they can’t name a particular picture. Then they figure out which word does not belong, take it out of the wagon, and say, “Get out of the wagon!”
This particular activity did not call for Ziggy the Zebra to participate (the much-requested hand puppet), but we try to work him in even when his presence isn’t specifically requested just because L&L LOVE him. I’m not kidding. They tell him that they love him and give him hugs and kisses.
So, we let Ziggy help us play “Get out of the wagon.” The kids really enjoyed handing their 3rd and unwanted card to Ziggy, who would take it in his mouth, and offer them a muffled “Thank You!” since obviously his mouth was full.
They thought it was hilarious and we played for quite awhile!
#4. Read Aloud Time
After we clean up the game, it’s time for read aloud. The teacher’s manual suggests reading aloud for twenty minutes and often offers helpful tips for doing so. I don’t always do this part right after the other parts of the lesson, but we do always read for at least twenty minutes a day, and more often than not, in excess of an hour! My two LOVE to read.
We also add a sticker to their progress charts once we’re finished.
So, that’s what a typical day in the program looks like. It’s simple, consistent yet different enough every day to keep the kids motivated, and it’s easy to supplement with your own activities if you choose. We do supplement with various other activities (post coming soon!!), but I love that all the basics are covered; I can simply do this lesson and it’s enough. I also love that I can just reach in my bag, pull out the materials, and start working with the kids. It really is that easy.
While there are lots of things I love about the All About Reading Level Pre-1 curriculum, I think what I love most is that my children LOVE it, and any reading program that produces smiles like these, is tops in my book!
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