Teaching Thailand #4: Alphabet Materials

As mentioned previously, I would like to focus a lot more on the alphabet during the upcoming school year than is covered in our curriculum. It is very important to me that our children have that base on which to build in future years. Thus, most of the materials I have created this month deal with the English letters, both lower- and upper-case.

This year, I plan to deal with the “big” and “small” letters separately; the flashcards I made last year had them together:

I have made new cards for each letter, along with arrows showing the steps for letters with straight lines (I will make curved arrows later, if needed). I plan to display these in the classroom as we begin to learn about that particular letter and will model how to write it. I will print and laminate sets of each letter card so that each student in a particular class can practice tracing the letters with dry-erase markers during the lesson. This means printing out 20-30 cards each week.

Here are my upper-case Tracing Letters:

Here are the lower-case letters:

I color-code a lot of my flashcards and other materials — most dealing with the letters of the alphabet are in shade of purple. I also changed my logo from the masked man of the COVID era into something with glasses and a neck-tie. I’m not sure if the kids will recognize this as representing “Teacher Mark” the way they did the older image but we will see.

I made combined-cases letter mats which the kids can practice in the classrooms after learning the letters. They can use clay to form these letters. My plan is to print the cards, laminate them, and affix them in a shallow-lipped plastic tray. A small tub of clay can be given to the child to take and practice. Again, this will require A LOT of printing and laminating to set up as I will need a set for each of nine classrooms.

Here are my clay mats:

Note: Letter “Ii” is missing. I noticed as I was combining the cards into the PDF and will fix this at a later time.

I have an idea of having the younger children (Pre-K and K1, perhaps K2) to trace the letters in sand. For this, I will need a supply of shallow-lipped plastic trays as well as a big bucket of sand. I suppose I will also need to find a small plastic shovel so I can refill my bucket of sand. Sounds like a late-night operation at the nearby beach.

I have started making my own chants to use when we learn each letter but that is a bit more slow-going. I only have chants for the first three letters and am seriously thinking about purchasing a set of alphabet chant cards from a more creative Kindergarten teacher. Here’s what I have so far:

For “D”, I was trying to figure something out involving doughnuts and, possibly, donkeys. But I just thought of “dirty dogs dig deep” so that might work. I’ll see if I can find an image to match…

I also have several alphabet-related games, saying the names of the letters (a Miss Kindergarten adaptation) as well as several activities for matching the capital letters with their lower-case counterparts:

I am looking forward to having the kids form letters of the alphabet with their bodies. The difficult part, as with all new games, will be trying to explain to the children what I want them to do. Sometimes, the Thai teachers will help explain but it is always hit or miss whether they will understand what I want the kids to do. As soon as the children recognize the “make the letter with your body” game, it should not be a problem.

I have several more ideas that I would like to use for teaching the alphabet including how to make each letter using Legos-style building blocks (the Thai version is quite different as well as larger) and making ABC bracelets. I am not lacking for letter ideas, that much is certain.

What I need to do now is take inventory of my most recent vocabulary flashcards and make a few for the first several letters of the alphabet. I think I already have quite a few but I want to check if they are in good shape; my laminator was not always running well towards the end of last term and sometimes the kids can be a bit hard on them.

With the alphabet materials essentially finished, it is time to focus on other topics. I am ready with Basic Greetings and Introductions, the subject of my next “Teaching Thailand” blog entry. Coming soon….

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