Be A Letter Detective

In my kindergarten classroom one of my favorite activities to do with the letter of the week is something called Letter Detective. Basically each student has a three prong folder with 29 pages in it--one page for each letter of the alphabet plus three digraphs (sh, ch, and th). Every Wednesday morning students have to search for three magazine pictures that begin with the letter of the week and glue them on the corresponding letter page. Then the student (or a teacher, depending on the child's writing ability) writes the word of the object under the picture. At the end of the year, students have a cute picture dictionary that they created.

This year I decided that I would have my son create a similar book to reinforce the alphabet letters that he is learning at school. This is a great activity because it can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. My at home version is for early letter and letter sound learners, but you can adjust the activity to include only letters if your focus is letter identification or you can have children seek out their own pictures and incorporate writing words if you want additional challenges.

First I bought a cheap pad of construction paper from the dollar bin at Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts. This pad was perfect because it's super hard to rip the pages out (you don't want the pages falling out or the book with fall apart) and it had 30 sheets of paper. I covered the front of the pad with a piece of construction paper and put a simple title ABC on the front with uppercase letter cut outs that I had left over from my daughter's birthday banner.

ABC book

Next I glued one uppercase alphabet letter in order to the top of each page of construction paper. You can even just write the letter at the top of each page if you don't want to go the cut out route. It doesn't have to be anything fancy because each page is going to be decorated with pictures and other letters. After the book was assembled, I went through a couple of magazines and cut out pictures that began with the first letter I wanted to focus on. I decided with my son that I would use the letter of the week that he is learning in preschool as additional practice at home for his ABC book. So yes, it takes a little prep work for this project, but I'm guessing that by the end of the school year, he can be looking for pictures too. But for now I went through a couple of magazines and clipped out pictures that began with L. I went ahead and cut a few extra pictures that I found that started with other letters to save for future use. After cutting I laid out all the pictures I had cut for the letter I was focusing on plus one or two extras to make my son think a little.

L pictures

For this particular page I found 4 magazine pictures that began with L: lollipop, leaf, ladybug and lemonade. I also put in football and bird/parrot to see if my son could distinguish between things that begin with L and those that don't (he couldn't yet, but I know he'll get there). In addition I found two capital L's and a Lightening McQueen and lion sticker that also begin with L. Stickers are great because they're already sticky.

I laid everything out before calling my son over and I told him we were going to decorate the L page in his ABC book. I flipped through the book stopping on various pages and asked him if that was the L page to show him how to find the right page in the book. He correctly said, "No" and giggled until we came to the actual L page. Then I asked him to look at the pictures and find one that starts with L. He first picked up the football and said, "Football". I said, "Does football begin with /l/ (l sound)" and of course he said, "Yes" and wanted to glue it right away. So, I said, "no football begins with /f/ (f sound). Try Again." I told you we need practice, right? Then he picked up the lollipop and said, "lllllollipop". Whew! After that he got the hang of finding the pictures and letters with L and before I knew it we were out of pictures.

L Page

As we complete the ABC book, I'm hoping to increase my son's ownership of the project by having him look through magazines to find pictures that begin with the letters, but for now this was a good first step and a great way to make a connection between what he is learning at school and home.