Is Teaching Printing Still Important?

Is Teaching Printing and Handwriting Still Important In This Digital Age?

Teaching Printing

Teaching Printing

Increasingly more students are arriving in our classrooms never having the opportunity to hold a pencil, coloring and cutting with scissors and fine-motor skills are lagging.  I have certainly noticed a significant decline since I started teaching 34 years ago. This blog post is meant to address some of these concerns.  How often do you hear, “children do not need to know how to print because they will just learn to type.”  Research has been done in this area and supports the importance of still learning to print


Importance of Learning to Print – Correlates to Learning to Read

A 2012 study showed that young children who attempted to write letters on a blank piece of paper demonstrated similar brain functionality used by adults when reading and writing.  Children who only traced letters or shapes with dotted lines, or those who typed the letter on the computer showed no such effect.  Their brain functionality for activating the same skill level was much weaker.


Printing and Writing Results In Better Retention

The video below discusses how printing/writing results in better retention.


Handwriting Versus Typing

Handwriting Versus Typing

Teaching Printing In Relation to Learning Letters and Sounds

The research above confirms the importance of teaching printing in conjunction with learning letters and sounds.  There is such a huge connection between learning letters and sounds and printing the letter.



In conclusion, the importance of learning to print should not be overlooked even in this digital age.  I believe even more research is going to become available showing the same outcomes.  Below I have posted a few printing “Literacy Centers” ideas.


Literacy Games That Promote Fine-Motor and Letter Learning

The game displayed below was one of my student’s favorite Literacy Center games. I place the picture circle graph in a paper plate so the top would not roll off.  The students must twist the spinner (great for fine-motor) and print the letter represented by the picture the spinner lands on.

Spinning Alphabet Board Game

Spinning Alphabet Board Game

Roll, Count, Move and Print Game

This is a great game to assist in letter learning and printing and also incorporates math. Students roll a die and move their game player accordingly. They must print the letter that represents the sound of the picture they landed on.

Literacy Center Game

Literacy Center Game

Draw and Print

As a member of the Kinderplans site you have access to 156 alphabet picture cards.  The students would draw a picture card and print the letter represented.


Draw and Print

Draw and Print

CVC Word Printing

As a member of the site you will have access to 45 CVC picture cards.  Students can make words as displayed in the photograph below.


Making CVC Words

Making CVC Words

More Literacy Center Ideas

In the link below you can find more Literacy Center ideas.


>More Literacy Center Ideas


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Teaching Ideas for the New School Year


Phonemic and Phonological Awareness

Phonemic and Phonological Awareness

Many of you will be entering the new school year and the excitement of meeting your little learners is mounting.  They will all enter with a wide range of skills and abilities.  With the curriculum expectations becoming more rigorous, we tend to omit the basics. When I started teaching kindergarten, I was so eager on getting these little ones learning the alphabet and start the process of writing and reading early.  I learned very quickly that the majority of my students didn’t understand the concept of what a beginning sound was nor could they hear it.  I had to take a step back and start with the basics.  This is where phonemic instruction comes into play.  The video in the link below does a fantastic job of explaining phonemic and phonological awareness.


Important Pre-Reading Skills


The graphic organizer displayed above was from the URL below.  Great Job!!!


Graphic Organizer and More Information on Phonemic Awareness


Importance of Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and segment sounds.  We know that a student’s skills in phonemic awareness is a good predictor of later reading success or difficulty.  Since research has proven this time and time again, as a Pre-K or kindergarten teacher, this is a great place to start your literacy instruction.  I have outlined some fun and engaging activities below that can be used for segmentation and blending.


Slow Speaking Sam

Guessing the Word

Slow Speaking Sam Puppet

I have a puppet called “Slow Speaking Sam”.  He says sounds of words very, very slowly. My little ones have fun trying to figure out the word he is saying.  Together we blend the sounds to say the entire word.


Assigning Each Child A Sound

Sound Segmenting

Sound Segmenting

I have three students (to begin with) and assign them each a sound.  They each say their sound and the rest of the students must guess what the word is when you put all the sounds together (blending).


Money in the Bank and Taken Out

Move the Sound

Move the Sound

I show a CVC picture card (45 pictures on the Kinderplans site). Each child is given a cupful of pennies or whatever you have available.  The students move the pennies into the bank representing each sound heard.  After, they blend the sounds together to say the entire word while removing the pennies.  After the game, the students can count how many pennies they collected.


Money in the Bank Templates


Squeeze the Sound

Squeeze the Sound

Squeeze the Sound

Again, I show a CVC picture card.  The students must squeeze the ball each time a sound is heard. They blend the sounds together to say the entire word, while dropping the ball to the ground (do not want a ball that bounces). This is also great for developing fine-motor strength too!


Stretch the Sound

Stretching Sounds

Stretching Sounds

The students stretch each sound using a slinky or elastic band. These can bought at a Dollar store (love those stores).


Using Your Imagination

These are just a few examples but you get the idea of the possibilities.  The activities should involve some sort of movement in order to be effective.


When Do I Start Introducing the Alphabet Letters?

I only concentrate on phonemic awareness activities for the first week or so of the school year.  I still continue to do these throughout the year but I introduce the relationship to a letter.


Meeting Your Curriculum Outcomes

If the Kinderplans Alphabet program were to be followed the majority of your curriculum outcomes would be met.  The only area that is not covered is poetry.  I am working towards adding these to the collection of resources found on the site.

Alphabet Program

Alphabet Program


If you have poems that you use in your class to share, I would really appreciate them sent to me or post a comment below.


Alphabet Program Explained

I just recently posted a video on the site that explains the program.  Hop over to view it.


Alphabet Program Explained



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Pre-K Guided Writing

Fairy Tale Theme for April-May

Fairy Tale Theme for April-May

Importance of Guided Writing Within Your Classroom

During the later part of the Kindergarten school year (February-June) I started pulling small groups of students to work with me on writing short sentences that  follow a pattern.  This writing is so important as it allows them practice what they have learned about letters and sounds and use of basic sight words.   I offer assistance in helping break down the words so they can hear the sounds.  I am now teaching grade one and I really noticed a difference with students that came into my classroom with this foundation.  I have outlined some writing samples from the Fairy Tale theme I used during the months of April-May.


Story Writing

It is such an exciting time of year when the majority of the students can apply what they have learned about letters and sounds through their story writing.  For their first story writing experience,  I have them follow a patterned story so all the students can experience success.  They choose their own setting, ending and different characters that would follow the patterned series of events as outlined in the emergent reader “Gingerbread Man Perseveres” from the Fairy Tale theme.



Setting the Stage for Success

My students always have an alphabet chart handy that they can refer to.  It is not uncommon for them to forget proper letter formation and what the letter looks like that is related to a specific sound.  My students use the chart and alphabet wall pictures regularly. The pictures on the chart are related to the alphabet sight word readers and songs that were used to teach the the alphabet.  The students have taught me the importance of using strong visuals; it results in greater retention and more meaningful learning.


 If you are a member of the site, login to your account and go to “Alphabet Program – Alphabet Pictures” to access this chart.

Writing story starter found within the theme unit.


Illustrating – Simple How to Draw Resources

Illustrating the story can be challenging for some students.   The best “How to Draw” sites I have found are in the links below.


Great How to Draw Site


Another Great How to Draw Site


settingWriting and Differentiated Instruction

Choosing a Setting

The students first task was to choose a setting.  I tried to encourage them to choose a setting that was related to their level of interest.  An example of a setting can be found in the photograph on the left (this girl chose a castle because the was really into princesses).  I provided a patterned story starter that allowed for differentiation.


Series of Events

The page on the right was taken from the setting displayed.  All her characters will be related to a castle setting (a fairy helper with a pretty princess).  The students were to complete a series of events using the story starter below:Story One


Run, run, as fast as you can

You can’t catch me, I’m the gingerbread man.

I had to run away from…..


Series of Events TwoWriting 1

In the photograph on the left, this author chose “Cat Land” to be her setting.  All her characters will be different types of cats.  In this picture it is a “baby rainbow cat”.


Series of Events ThreeWriting 3

The story on the right is (a powerful unicorn).  The setting chosen for this story is “Unicorn Land”.


Series of Events Four 

Story 4The author in this story is really into bobcats (Bobcat Land) so all his characters will be bobcats with different features.


Ending the Stories

Each story will provide a similar ending to the emergent reader “Gingerbread Man Perseveres”.  The author will provide an ending that shows what happens to Gingerbread Man when he perseveres and escapes from all the characters that chased him in the story.


Parent Day

At the end of May we had a parent day.  I had my students pick their favourite page from their story. I scanned the page and displayed it on the Smart Board for them to read to their parents.  I also incorporated drama into this theme where the students reenacted the emergent readers related to this theme.  What a great way to show off all they have learned!


In Conclusion

I have taught many different grades;  kindergarten and grade one are one of the most exciting in terms of witnessing growth.  In Kindergarten I was working with the students in hearing beginning sounds and  by the end many of them could hear the beginning, middle and end of a word and print the letter that represents these sounds.  Their printing was initially scribbling and at the end their thoughts were expressed by using letters.  Initially, they did not know the difference between a word and letter but now they can track and read words.  This is why I love teaching!!!


More Ideas Related to the Fairy Tale Theme


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January Lesson Plans

January is the month to bring warmth into your classroom. Since January is a cold and snowy where I live, the “Ocean” theme is meant to bring dreams of warmer weather.  We discuss the ocean creatures, sandy beaches and sun. In planning for this theme I use a balanced literacy model to assist me.  The model is viewed on the right.

Balanced Literacy Model

Balanced Literacy Model


Read Alouds

Since the focus letters related to this theme are Oo for “octopus”, Jj for “jellyfish” or Ww for “whales”, my literature selections are related to gathering information on these sea animals. These are the books that could be used:  “An Octopus is Amazing” by Patricia Lauber,  “Jenny Jellyfish a Tale of Wiggly Jellies” by Suzanne Tate and  “Whales” by Gail Gibbons.

Ocean Emergent Reader

Ocean Emergent Reader


Shared Reading as A Whole Class

The emergent reader “Exploring the Sea With Ollie Octopus”, would be used to introduce the sea animals octopus, jellyfish and whale. The letters “Oo, Jj, and Ww” and their related sounds would be introduced within a meaningful context.  I project the reader on my Smart Board and model the reading process, as well,  I work on a variety of reading skills related to the reader.  This is done in a whole group setting.

Guided Reading

Guided Reading


Guided Reading in Small Group Setting

I copy off the black and white version of the reader for each of my students.  We work on a variety of skills that the reader offers within a small group setting.  I always use the interactive version of the reader.  The students are to cut and paste the correct sea creature that corresponds to the text and color the pictures.  This keeps each student busy while I am working with an individual.


Word Work – Rotating Literacy Centers

I usually run my Literacy Centers for 20 minutes to 45 minutes on a rotating system.  The activities allow the students to practice the skills focused on during shared and guided reading.  I generally have four rotating centers with 5-6 students in each group.


Oo, Jj, Ww, Rr, Ff Focus Letter Game

Oo, Jj, Ww, Rr, Ff Focus Letter Game

Center One – Practice Printing

The students practice printing the focus letter that has been introduced.  It is at this center they work on their printing booklet.


Center Two – Focus Letter Sound Game

Spin and Rhyme

Spin and Rhyme Game

Playing partners take turns rolling a die and moving their game players accordingly.  If they land on the focus sound(s), they must print the letter.  This game focuses on letters Oo, Jj, Ww, Rr and Ff.


Center Three – Rhyming Game

Letter Naming and Matching Game

Letter Naming and Matching Game

Playing partners take turns spinning the top.  They must find the matching rhyming picture of where the top landed and mark this off.


Center Four – Letter Naming and Matching Game

Focus Sight Word Game

Ocean Sight Word Game

Playing partners draw a letter card and must say the name of letter (if they know it) and place it on the correct matching fish.



Focus Sight Words Game

Focus sight words are printed on the game board. Playing partners take turns rolling a die and move their game player accordingly.  They must read the sight word that they landed on.


Alphabet Review Game All Letters

Alphabet Review Game

Alphabet Review Game – All the Letters of the Alphabet

In this game the playing partners are required to print all the letters of the alphabet.


CVC Game

CVC Game

CVC Game 

Playing parnters take turns drawing a CVC word.  They must match it to the corresponding picture.


Writing Activities

We will be watching videos, reading books and gathering information about the octopus, jellyfish and whales which are featured in the emergent reader.  All our writing activities will reflect on the information we gathered.


This Month’s Fabulous Freebies

In the link below you will find the connect the dots sea creature activities.  The students can connect the dots, color and print a sentence about these sea creatures.


Dot to Dot Ocean Creatures Connect the Dots and Writing


Ocean Creatures Word Identification Legend


More Information on the Ocean Theme

In the link below you will find more information on the “Ocean Theme” unit.


Ocean Theme Unit


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A Balanced Literacy Lesson Plan

Balanced Literacy Model

Balanced Literacy Model

I have always been a big fan of integrating key learning concepts and subject areas in my language arts daily lesson plans.  This allows me to be more efficient in meeting the curriculum outcomes.  All my plans take a balanced literacy approach to teaching these concepts.  More information on a balanced literacy approach can be found in the link below:


Balanced Literacy Approach to Teaching Reading


Balanced Literacy Lesson Plan for November

The focus theme for November is on Pets and How Animals Prepare for Winter (Science Connection).  Outlined below is how I follow the balanced literacy approach to teaching reading.  Following this model makes my planning so much easier.Wanna Iguana


Read Aloud

This year I chose to use the book “I Wanna Iguana” as my read aloud to introduce this theme.  Within the theme unit (Pets Theme)  there are a number of suggestions but this is the one I chose.  This is a great book to use to understand the power of persuasion.  It also introduces the concept of the responsibilities involved in looking after a pet.  In the link below is a video reading of the book.


Video Reading of the Book “I Wanna Iguana”

The Best Pet Reader

The Best Pet Reader


Follow-up Shared Reading

I will be using the color version of the reader “The Best Pet” as a shared reading experience which is a follow-up to reading the book.  I will project it on the Smart Board for all the students to see.  I will introduce letters and their related sounds within the context of reading it  (Dd for dog, Cc and Kk for cat and Ii for iguana).  Any focus sight words could also be introduced.


Word Study

The Literacy Centers outlined in the link below all incorporate the the Word Study Component of the balanced literacy approach.


Daily Literacy Centers


Interactive Black and White Version of The Best Pet

Interactive Black and White Version of The Best Pet

Interactive Guided Reading

I use the interactive black and white versions of the readers (same one used for shared reading).  At this point, the students are still learning to track words and recognizing few sight words.  They absolutely love completing the interactive component of the readers and this adds a comprehension and fine-motor element to their reading.  The students are to cut and paste the correct pet that is mentioned in the text.  They can match the underlined word with the word printed on the picture.  This is a good visual discrimination activity.

Independent Reading

Once the students have read the reader during shared and guided reading, many of them will be able to read it independently.


Research and Vocabulary Development – Would An Iguana Be A Good Pet?

Since many of my students would not be a familiar with what an iguana is, we will need to do more research and add this to their vocabulary background.    I have used the videos below as a base for this research. This will help them to decide if they feel and iguana would be a good pet.

Information Videos About Iguanas


Modeled, Shared and Interactive Writing

I will model  writing what pet I would like or have as a pet.  After, I will model what the students dicate on chart paper.  As I am writing we often “share the pen”.  If they know a beginning letter sound of word that I am going to print, I will allow them to come forward and print it.


Guided Writing

Guided Writing

Guided Writing

After, the students will complete their own writing with guidance.  Could provide a template for this.

I want a __________ for a pet.

I have a ___________ for a pet.

I would like a ___________.


More Ideas for the Pets Theme

This is just a small sample of what activities you can engage your students in within the Pets Theme.  In the link below you will find more ideas.


More Ideas for Pets Theme


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Phonological Awareness

Important Skills for Beginning of Kindergarten or PreK

Training my students to hear beginning sounds in a fun and effective way can be a challenge.  I begin each year focusing on this skill as many of my students arrive lacking the ability to discriminate sounds heard within words.

Research has proven that phonological awareness, phonemic awareness and phonics plays a crucial role in children learning to read but the terms can be confusing.   The video below is an excellent source of information in explaining the differences.


Pre-Reading Skills Video


In this blog post I wanted to address a few mini-lessons that I have implemented that have helped my students to hear beginning sounds and apply this to the corresponding letter.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness Warmup

One of the learning outcomes in many Pre-K programs is for students to print letters they hear at the beginning of words.  However, many of my students arrive not being able to  distinguish the difference in hearing these sounds. Many do not understand the concept of what a beginning sound is.  During the first weeks of school,  I focus on phonemic awareness activities that will assist them in hearing sounds within words prior to introducing any alphabet letters representing these sounds.  I focus on the initial sound first.

1)  I have a puppet that I named “Slow Speaking Sam”.  Sam says the sounds within words (usually one syllable words) very slowly and the students must guess the word said.  If they can’t guess the word, it is said faster.

2)  I have three students come forward and assign each of them a phoneme sound they are to represent.  We blend the sounds together to say the word that represents these sounds.  We clap or stretch the sounds using an elastic band.   We also discuss the first, middle and last sound heard.  This activity has been invaluable in terms of my students understanding the concept of what a beginning sound is.  When the majority of my students are able to hear beginning sounds; I begin introducing the letters of the alphabet that represent these sounds (phonics).  We extend this activity to deleting and adding sounds.  Using the students to represent sounds assists visual learners with this skill devleopment.

Integrating Use of the Smart Board


Smart Board Sorting Activities
As a group instructional activity, we sort pictures according to what inital sounds are heard.


Phonics Component

Use of Paddle Boards

Dry Erase Boards

Dry Erase Boards

After the students have an understanding of hearing initial sounds in words, the phonics component is integrated.  I was fortunate to have a class set of dry erase paddle boards.  I use these contstantly in my “Literacy Centers” and class activities.  I dictate  words that begin with the focus initial letter sounds and the students must print the letter that represents the initial sound heard in the word.  This helps me evaluate each child’s understanding. This has proven to be an invaluable activity  but my only complaint is that I seem to be having to replace the markers frequently.  I haven’t found a solution to this problem yet.


 Use of Shared and Guided Reading and Literacy Centers


Connection to Literature

Many of the emergent readers are a simple retelling of a literature selection.  The focus literature selection for the upcoming week will be “Rainbow Fish”.  This is a great book to use to address the concept of sharing and to introduce the related emergent reader.


Shared Reading –  Rainbow Fish RetellingRainbow-Fish-Emergent-Reader

I project the color version of the emergent reader on my Smart Board.  First we do a picture walk and predict what the story might be about.  I read the book to them and after we circle and read the words together, reinforcing the use of pictures to give us clues as to what the text reads.


Focus Skills

The reader is not only meant to introduce the reading process but also key learning concepts.  The following concepts will be introduced during shared reading time: what a word is,  letters “r” and “f” and their related sounds, sight word “a”, colors and color words.



Guided Reading

I don’t exceed six students during my guided reading group time.  Since we have read the selection over several times during shared reading, many of my students are able to pretend read the majority of the book.  During guided reading they circle the words and color the pictures according to the text.  This not only adds a comprehension and fine-motor component but most students complete this task at varying times, allowing me to focus on one student at a time.  They read the book to me (tracking the words they circled) and after read it to a friend and take it home to read to their parents.


Printing Book – Group 1

Complete printing book “r and f” and stamp pictures beginning with that sound.  Printing book found in link below:

Printing Book

Sound-Soring-GameObject or Picture Sorting – Group 2

My students will be digging into the rice or soy bean tactile tubs for objects to determine if they begin with “Ll,  Hh,  Rr or Ff” sounds.  If I do not have enough objects representing a sound, I use picture cards laminated on cardstock instead (found in the “All About Me” theme).

I recently purchased soy beans from the “Bulk Barn”.  It was the cheapest I could find for creating another tactile tub.  My students really enjoy this experience.


Spin and Print – Group 3

Spin and Print

Students take turns spinning a top and printing the letters “r and f” depending on what picture the top lands on.


Alphabet Ordering and Matching – Group 4

I have all the alphabet letters in the correct order in pocket charts.  The lower-case letters are printed on poker chips.  The students must match the poker chips to the correct letter found within the pocket charts.  I have three pocket charts (2 students working at each chart). They are encouraged to say the name of the letter, if they know it).  Later in the year, I will have them put the alphabet letters in the correct order.


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Pre K Phonics Program


Printing Sequence

What Order Is The Most Effective In Teaching Beginning Letter Sounds?

This is a question I often get asked, “What order is the most effective in teaching beginning letter sounds?”  Since I introduce the correct letter printing formation at the same time as introducing the letter name and its corresponding sound, I try to follow the sequence our occupational therapist suggests.  However, this sequence does not necessarily start with the sounds that the students find the easiest to hear.

After experimenting with different letter sequences, this is the one in which I found to be the most effective in terms of learning to print and hear sounds more readily.  The first letters I chose were ones that we will use the most frequently in our daily writing.  The order I suggest is as follows:  l, b, h, r, f, m, n, a, t, p, s, e d, c, k, u, v, i, o, j, w, g, z, y, x and q.  The “Alphabet Program” which is included in the Kinderplans membership, was specifically developed to teach the alphabet and their related sounds effectively within a balanced literacy classroom.  More information on the “Alphabet Program” can be found in the link below:

Information About the Alphabet Program


Steps to Teaching the Alphabet and Related SoundsLibrary-Lion

Step One – Read Aloud

I start with reading the suggested literature selection which is associated with the emergent reader that will be used to introduce the focus letter(s).  If you do not have the literature selection readily available in your library, sometimes you will find an online version by doing a search.  For example, I will start the year reading “Library Lion” by Michelle Knudson that is associated with the emergent reader “Lion Likes to Read”.   You can also choose another literature selection related lions.


Library Lion Video


Emergent Reader Lion Likes to ReadStep Two – Shared Reading

I project the color version of the reader “Lion Like to Read” on the Smart Board and model the reading process (reader associated with the literature selection).  We do a activities related to the reader for a number of days.  I will introduce the names and and sounds of letters “l and b” within context of using the reader.


Step Three – Word Study, Phonemic Awareness and Phonics

We do a number activities related to the focus letters and sounds such as:

Alphabet Action Songs

Alphabet Action Songs

1.  Discuss names within the classroom and other words that begin with these letters and sounds.

2.  Discuss possible actions that could go with these letters and sounds.

3.  Sing the songs related to the readers that are found on the “Alpha Tunes” CD which is included in the membership.  I also sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” but change the words to begin with the focus sound.

4.  Sort picture cards according to which ones relate to the focus sounds (alphabet picture cards included in your membership).

5.  We sort pictures on the Smart Board.  You will find a Smart Board sorting activity for letters “Ll and Bb” in the link below.



Smart Board Sorting ActivitiesAs a group instructional activity, we sort pictures according to if they begin with an “Ll and Bb” sounds on the Smart Board.  You would need access to Notebook software in order to download this activity.



Guided Reading and Independent Reading

"Ll and Bb" emergent reader

“Ll and Bb” Emergent Reader

During guided reading the students will be circling words and completing the interactive component which requires them to cut and paste the correct “b” picture that matches the text.  This adds a comprehension component to their reading.  After reading the selection a number of times during shared and guided reading, they should now be able to read it independently (pretend reading at this stage).


Literacy Center Follow-up Activities

The “Literacy Center” activities are an important component of the program as this is when the students practice what they have learned during instructional time.  In the link below you will find information on these Centers.


Ideas for Literacy Centers


Alphabet Bulletin Board

Alphabet Bulletin Board


The fabulous freebie for this newsletter is the “Alphabet Bulletin Board Picture Cards”.  These picture cards are related to the alphabet animated action video and the emergent readers.  As a member, you will have access to three different sizes of these picture cards. These picture cards are the medium sized version.  I place these in front of the room and refer to these regularly when reviewing the letters and their related sounds.  Removed on September 12th.



 Animated Alphabet Video


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