Do you teach anchor words to your students when you are teaching them the alphabet?
Anchor words are super important.
But, it can be a challenge to find fun, engaging, and effective ways to teach them.
In this blog post, I will share with you what exactly anchor words are, why they are important, give you some ideas to maximize the chances that your students will learn them, and share some of my favourite resources!
You may already know what anchor words are and why they are important, but just in case…
WHAT ARE ANCHOR WORDS?
An anchor word is basically a special, easy-to-remember word that you teach to your students to help them remember each letter sound.
Every letter should have its own anchor word, and every time you refer to that letter, you should use the same anchor word.
Consistency is REALLY important!
When you are always using the same anchor word for each letter, your students will be more likely to remember a word that begins with each letter.
Why is this helpful?
Well, it can be easier to remember a word than a sound.
With an anchor word, our students can picture the whole word in their head, and it is much more concrete than just a sound.
For example, if your anchor word for Ss is soleil, your students can use that knowledge to remember the sound that the letter Ss makes.
They may say something like “Ss… soleil… sssss”, where the anchor word leads them to the correct sound for the letter Ss. They think of the word, and then identify the beginning sound… that beginning sound = the sound the letter makes.
This is especially helpful when our students are learning to write, and are trying to write down the sounds they hear in each word.
TIPS TO HELP YOUR STUDENTS REMEMBER THEIR ANCHOR WORDS
Teaching anchor words is one thing… but how can we help ensure our students actually remember them, and become able to use them?
Well, as I mentioned above, the most important thing is consistency.
Think about it – if your alphabet posters say that dauphin begins with Dd, your flash cards say that dinosaure starts with Dd, and the linking chart you use for guided reading says that drapeau begins with Dd… that might get a little confusing!
It is more likely that your students will remember none of those words, rather than all three of them.
If you want your students to learn an anchor word for each letter, and have an anchor word pop up in their brains automatically when they are ready to write, then you must have consistency in your resources.
At my school, we actually believe so much in this practice that we have the same anchor words from grade to grade.
Yup – all of the teachers from maternelle-2e année at my school use the exact same alphabet posters with the exact same anchor words!
This is especially helpful for our struggling learners, who may not learn all of their letter sounds in maternelle, or even première année. These students need that consistency most of all!
TPT has a great little multiple-license option, where you can purchase the same product for your colleagues from your account at a reduced price! Just go to your purchases page, find the resource, and click “Purchase Additional License”.
Another tip is to have your students learn their anchor words in a hands-on way.
This may mean building your own alphabet posters with your students, rather than purchasing pre made posters.
As a class, you can come up with a list of anchor words together for each letter, and then photograph the objects and create alphabet posters using the photos and letters that you type up and print out.
I do use pre made posters (that I made myself), because I use a TON of other resources that include our anchor words, and unfortunately I just don’t have the time to start from scratch every year and recreate all of those resources for a new collection of anchor words.
But, I like to “manipulate” our anchor words in a different way – with crafts!
I use alphabet anchor word crafts to build our anchor word out of each letter of the alphabet!
My students LOVE this activity, and get excited every day to see what our anchor word for our new letter will be.
By actually assembling all the parts they need, including the letter itself, I find that my students have been better able to remember their anchor words!
Something else you could try is writing a poem or a song that includes your anchor words. Something like: A pour avion, B pour bateau. C pour citrouille ou cadeau, for example.
Recite/sing it every day, and your students will be anchor word pros in no time!
MY FAVE RESOURCES FOR ANCHOR WORDS
As I said above, I use a TON of different resources that contain consistent anchor words.
Every time we use one of them, the anchor words are reinforced yet again!
But, I do have three resources that I use the most frequently for specifically teaching each anchor word.
I mentioned these above, but they are my most favourite, so I feel like it’s okay to mention them again!
This resource contains a craft for each uppercase letter of the alphabet. Each craft matches the anchor words found in my other resources.
You can watch the following video to see an example of each one:
As cute as they are with the coloured paper, I just do the print-on-white-paper version in my class, so that they are easier to print and prep.
They still look great!
PS – Are you a member of my FREE Resource Library for French primary teachers? If not, what are you waiting for?? Sign up below for access to every freebie I’ve ever made… and will ever make!