When you teach young learners or beginner level students, letter recognition is an essential part of the curriculum. Because this is such a huge component of reading mastery, we need to make sure that we are using as many “tricks” as we can to teach big and small letters to our learners.
So, I want to share 3 quick tips that will keep your students engaged while learning the letters of the alphabet. However, before we dive in, I want you to remember one thing as you are teaching the upper and lowercase letters.
Make sure when you are teaching letters that you say “big” and “small.” The reason we don’t say “little” is because “small” is a one syllable word while “little” is a 2 syllable word. For those just learning English, the fewer the number of syllables, the better!!
So, you’ll notice that as I share these 3 tips, I will always refer to “big” and “small” letters.
How to Teach Big & Small Letters
Move the Letter Cards
Whenever I teach, I’m always mindful of the fact that I am interacting with a screen. In other words, I’m not sitting right beside my students during our lessons.
So, to create a three dimensional atmosphere, I move my flashcards, props, and reward system toward the camera and away from the camera. This keeps even my youngest and most active students engaged in the lesson.
When I teach letters of the English alphabet, I use this forward and backward motion to accentuate the big and small letters. Here’s what I do…
- Pick up the big letter, move it very close to the camera, and say “Big A.” (This draws attention to the large letter and the fact that it’s physically larger.)
- Pick up the small letter, and pull it away from the camera (and very close to yourself ) while saying “Small A.”
- Then pick up both letters and say “A.”
- Push the big letter toward the screen and pull the small letter toward you simultaneously. Shake the big letter and say “Big A.” Then shake the small letter and say “Small A.”
This super-simple visual helps students notice the difference between the big letter and small letter immediately!
Change the Volume and Pitch of Your Voice
One of the easiest way to keep your students engaged when teaching letters is to change the pitch and the volume of your voice. This auditory cue is another way for your student to connect with the size of the letter.
Whenever you hold up the big letter, you can use a deep or gravelly voice and say, “Big A.” Then when you hold up the small letter, speak in a squeaky high-pitched voice and say, “Small A.”
If you want to go a step farther, you can make your voice loud and deep when you say, “BIG A.” You definitely don’t want to yell, but you can certainly speak louder. Then when you say, “Small A,” speak in a high-pitched whisper.
This usually makes my young students laugh! The kids think it is funny when you use different voices, and it’s an easy way to get them engaged.
Changing the volume or pitch of your voice is also a great tool to use when your students are not paying attention or have simply quit repeating because they almost always will repeat using the same style of voice you have used.
The last way that you can help your students learn the uppercase and lowercase letters is by using TPR. Remember, TPR stands for “Total Physical Response,” and that means you use your body language to help communicate what you’re saying with your words.
The easiest way to do this is to create the look of “big” and “small” with your hands. Here’s how…
- Put your right hand up high, but make sure you are still within the frame of your camera.
- Next, bring your left hand down to the bottom of the screen, and say “Big A.” (Think of this like holding an invisible vase on the top and bottom.)
- This over-exaggeration is even funnier to students when you use the deep voice.
- Then, say “Small A” and hold your index finger and thumb near the screen like you are going to pinch something.
This will give your students one more visual cue to see the difference between the big and small letters.
Learning how to effectively teach big and small letters to your Level 1 and Level 2 students is an essential component of the VIPKid curriculum. So, you need to have a few tricks to keep your young students interested. By combining these tips, you will help your kids make the necessary connections to become confident English speakers.
If you want to read more about VIPKid, you can check out these posts.