ABC STICK ACTIVITIES

Currently we are in the middle of a war - the reading wars. "What?!?" you're probably asking. (See, reading is exciting!) You're probably also wondering what this war is about - it's about HOW to teach reading. On one side we have the Whole-Language Instruction (the emphasis is on recognizing entire words as the meaningful units of reading) and the other is for Phonics Instruction (the emphasis being phonics drills). 

I believe in a holistic model of reading, where the combination of five elements of literacy - the read aloud, phonics + phonemic awareness, comprehension instruction, fluency, and writing - come together to create a balanced way of teaching students how to read. So what does this have to do with our ABC Sticks? Well, today I will show you how we used our ABC Sticks to teach one of the building blocks reading - phonemic awareness. Shaywitz (2003) writes, "phonemic awareness and letter knowledge are the two best predictors of how well children will learn to read during their first two years of instruction. Even for middle and high school students, phonemic awareness is a good predictor of their ability to read accurately and quickly."

We played two games. I love playing games in my classroom and at home because it's an effective yet enjoyable way to learn. The first game is ABC Memory. You will need 2+ players for this game. Here's what we did:

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1. Place all 52 sticks letter-side down on a table, a flat surface, or the ground. 2. Choose one child to go first (in our family, it's usually the youngest). The child flips two sticks over, in hopes of making a match. When the child makes a match, they receive another turn. The game is over when all the sticks are partnered up. The goal is to find the most matches, and the person who does, is the WINNER! Whoot! Whoot! 

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The game is over when all the sticks are partnered up. The goal is to find the most matches, and the person who does, is the WINNER! Whoot! Whoot! 

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Our second game is also a simple game. You will only need 26 ABC Sticks. Lay out three to five sticks with the letter-side up. Say a sound and have your child pick up the stick that makes the sound. Continue this until all the letters have been recognized.

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PURPOSE OF THE GAMES | Both games teach letter and sound recognition, yet done in a fun way instead of rote. Plus, it helps their fine motor skills and strengthens their hand muscles, which is needed for writing. Finally, it helps with learning how to cooperate and play nicely with someone else - a lesson that some of us adults still need! Including me. Have fun playing!