La formation des lettres avec les élèves de la maternelle

Hi! Long time no blog post!

Sorry about that – turns out pregnant Andrea is not my best Andrea ;) So, you may hear from me again soon, you may not – balancing is a struggle right now for me! #realtalk

Since the back to school season is coming sooner rather than later for the rest of you, I wanted to pop in today to talk about something that is a huuuuge focus for me and my students throughout the year:

Letter formation

Learning letters and sounds is a MEGA important part of maternelle. If our students don't know their letters and their sounds, they will likely struggle to read and write. Check out this blog post for some fun ideas for helping your students learn their letter formation!

As I’m sure you know, learning letters and sounds is a MEGA important part of kindergarten. If our students don’t know their letters and their sounds, they probably aren’t going to be able to read or write! It is our job to make sure that we build a super solid foundation for our students, so that they end up knowing their letters and sounds like the backs of their hands and can go on to be successful readers and writers.

Many students need a LOT of practice to get their letters down pat, and have a really hard time associating letter names/sounds with their symbol. There are lots of different things that I do with my students to help them master this important skill. Some activities are great to do whole-group, some are better in a small-group setting, and others I have them practice on their own during literacy centres.

When teaching the alphabet, I do one letter per day rather than one letter per week, for a multitude of reasons (that’s another blog post for another day!), but I do a few rounds. The first round I do is almost completely oral – I want my students to practice listening for and identifying sounds orally before we even think about adding in symbols. You can read all about how I do that in this blog post.

Once we are ready to think about how we can represent each sound, I like to practice letter formation all together, in a whole group setting.

You can read all about our Routine de calligraphie right HERE.

It is quick and effective, and once we are done with the whole alphabet, I evaluate who knows which letters and which sounds.

Armed with the knowledge of who has a great grasp of the alphabet at this point and who needs some more intervention, I like to move my alphabet instruction to a small-group setting. Of course, we still talk about letters every day, and my students are still practicing and reviewing what they know all the time. But, with my small groups, I can really target certain letters and help everyone master the trickiest letters (which are different for different kids). 
My favourite way to introduce a new letter to a group is by using these Construis la lettre mats, which we use to build our target letter. 

Each mat has a couple of images that start with the target letter (one of which is always the same as my classroom alphabet), a bubble version of the upper and lowercase letter with a dot that shows where to start, and letters to trace.

I only have two students to a group in my classroom, so I print out two of each mat and laminate them. If you have bigger groups, you may want your students to share. We first review the name of the letter and its sound, and say the names of the images s-l-o-w-l-y, listening hard for our target letter sound.

I have a TON of manipulates in my classroom – mini themed erasers, seashells, buttons, snap cubes, counters, wiki stix, play dough, etc. I pull out a few choices at a time and let my students choose which they would like to use to build their letter. I have even used dinky cars and got my students to “drive” the letter shape! I usually draw arrows right on the bubble letters with the white board marker so they know which direction to go, and of course there is that big blue dot so we know where to start.

Once the letter is built, we move on to the more difficult task of tracing the letter with a white board marker on the bottom of the mat. Each time they write, I make them say the letter name and sound, like “N, n, /nnnn/”.

The next time I meet with them, I use these smaller mats for review. They are half a page big and just black and white, so I like to print them on coloured paper.

They are quick and easy and have a reference for students with arrows for correct path of motion, as well as the same image as on our classroom alphabet.

Once a student has mastered a new letter, I print the same black and white cards that are pictured above on plain white copy paper for them. I give them a more “permanent” choice for building the letter (stickers, stamps, Bingo daubers, etc.) and then we glue the sheet in their guided reading notebook as record that they have that letter down pat!

During our small group time, we also play TONS of games that practice letter names and sounds. If you are looking for more fun alphabet activities, you can see everything alphabet in my TPT store right here. We also play a lot of the same games that I use for independent centres as well – structured practice is good to help ensure they are playing them correctly when on their own ;) 
Once my students have enough letter knowledge, I like to give them lots of chances to consolidate and practice their skills during independent literacy centres. I will also sometimes have my students work on these activities during our small group time, but while I am listening to another child read, or working one-on-one with someone else in their group who may need a little more individual attention. 
Here is a photo of the activity I use for a letter building independent centre:

It’s super straightforward – students draw a card, place it on the mat, and use a provided manipulate to build the letter on their own. Then, there is lots of space on the bottom to practice writing the letter themselves with a white board marker (you will need to laminate the mats). There are cards for uppercase, lowercase, and cards with both!

There are tons of other activities you can use for practicing letter formation during centres! Play dough is another of our favourites. Check out my Alphabet Activities Pinterest Board for more ideas!

If you are interested in my Construis la lettre activities, they are all available in my TPT store by clicking on any of the pictures, or the links below:

French Alphabet Tracing Sheets
Construis la lettre – tapis de formation des lettres
Construis la lettre – black & white review cards
Construis la lettre – activité indépendante 

There is also a bundle available with all four activities, which is the way to go if you like saving money!

You can grab all four activities together in a bundle for less than the price of three. Check it out right here!

French letter formation BUNDLE - Construis la lettre - four awesome activities all bundled together to help your French kinders learn how to make their letters. Includes whole group, small group, and independent activities!

PS – Are you a member of my FREE French Resource Library yet?? If not, just enter your name & email below and hit the button. I’ll send you the exclusive password and instructions for getting your hands on every freebie I have ever made – and will ever make!

One Comment

  1. Kristal

    I happened upon your blog through Pinterest and wondering if you could give me some guidance. I am a homeschooler {in America} and my 6th grade daughter would love to learn French. While I took it in high school I am quite rusty and am not sure exactly where to start with her. Do you have a suggestion for me?

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