Pre-school Theme Day
Letter “Z” Day
To help my 3 year old son learn that the alphabet was more than just a song, we had letter days. Having them individually helped him to recognize that each letter is different just like each shape is different. After our theme day we’d review that letter for the week until the next theme day.
Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.
The obvious choice for letter days is the “ABCD...” alphabet song - http://www.kididdles.com/lyrics/a004.html
Many different Children’s Music Recordings have other alphabet songs (like Sharon, Lois and Bram), check your children’s collections to see what you have on hand.
There are songs that emphasize the sound of each letter, too (One sounds like “Farmer in the Dell” but says “Z says zzzz, Z says zzzz, every letter makes a sound, Z says zzzz”).
You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Alphabet Coloring Pages ” (you can often find alphabet pages with favourite characters on them too like the Sesame Street Characters) or print out my “Big Z Little z” Coloring Page.
While coloring the page, emphasize the shape by helping your child trace it with his/her finger and emphasize the sound (for Letter Z day emphasize the sounds “zzzz”).
Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any alphabet books.
Go to the library with your child to find some alphabet books.
Go to the library on your own to find alphabet books to have already on hand for your theme day. Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (search for “alphabet” under “Children’s Books”). Reserve them if you can to save time.
Try to find some of these fun alphabet books:
· Alison’s Zinnia, by Anita Lobel, Greenwillow Books, 1990 – Using alliteration each girl (whose name starts with the same letter as a flower performs an action starting with the same letter to give the flower to another girl (Alison acquired an Amaryllis for Beryl etc.).
· Alphabeep: A Zipping, Zooming ABC, by Debora Pearson and illustrated by Edward Miller, Holiday House, 2003 – This colourful alphabet book has all sorts of vehicles, road signs as it looks at life in a big city.
· A is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet, written by Matt Napier and illustrated by Melanie Rose, Sleeping Bear Press, 2002 – This rhyming alphabet book looks at all things hockey (A is for arena, H is for Hall of fame, L is for Lord Stanley, R is for referee etc.). Each letter has a wonderful painted illustration plus additional factual information on the side for further hockey knowledge.
· A is for Zebra: A Happy Ending on Every Page!, by Mark Shulman, illustrated by Tamara Petrosino, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc, 2006 – This unique alphabet book goes through the alphabet by highlighting the letters at the end of words instead of the beginning, hence A is for Zebra and B is for rub-a-dub-dub, etc. It might confuse younger readers just learning their alphabet but will intrigue older kids.
· Z Goes Home, by Jon Agee, Michael Di Capua Books/Hyperion, 2003 – In this clever alphabet book the letter Z escapes from the zoo and journeys home while passing by things that look like and start with the other letters of the alphabet (for example the letter B is sideways and looks like a bridge).
· Zoopa: An Animal Alphabet, by Gianna Marino, Chronicle Books, 2005 - Using no words just great illustrations this book goes through the alphabet by introducing two different animals on each page picture as the soup introduces the letter until the end of the book when the soup is full of letters and the table is full of animals.
LETTER Z COLLAGE:
Materials: A copy of my Zz worksheet, old magazines, child-safe scissors, washable glue stick, damp facecloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Look through old magazines with your child and together look for things that start with the letter Z (which may be a challenge so look for the letter Z is well).
Step 2: Help your child cut out the letter Z pictures from the magazine to make a pile of pictures to glue on the Zz worksheet.
Step 3: Show your child how to glue the pictures onto the collage and then let him/her glue the pictures on the paper however he/she likes.
Step 4: When the collage is dry display (fridge, bulletin board, child’s door) or glue into Family Theme Scrapbook.
LETTER Z STICKER COLLAGE:
Materials: Coloured paper, stickers of things that start with the letter Z (which is a bit of a challenge—we could only find zebras) or of the letter Z (which is easier to find).
Step 1: Have your child pick the colour of paper to use for the background
Step 2: Give your child the stickers or cut outs and let him/her stick or glue them to the coloured paper however he/she wants.
ZIG ZAG Collage:
Materials: A copy of my Zz worksheet, pinking shears (or scrapbook scissors with zig zag edges), various pieces of coloured paper, glue stick, damp cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Let your child choose the colours of paper and either let him/her cut with the pinking shears or do it yourself to create zig zag strips of paper.
Step 2: Remind your child that zig zag starts the with letter Z.
Step 3: Let your child glue the zig zags onto the Zz worksheet using the glues tick.
Step 4: Let the collage dry and then display or glue into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.
Zwieback crackers would be the perfect snack for Letter Z day.
Teach your child the Italian word for soup: zuppa, and serve his/her favorite soup for lunch today.
Cook some zucchini as a side veggie for dinner tonight.
Make some ziti pasta (long tubes of macaroni) and serve with your child’s favorite pasta sauce.
Check online or in your favourite cookbook for a zucchini chocolate cake recipe and bake some a Letter Z cake.
Make some Black and White Zebra Cookies: Make your favorite sugar cookie dough but put cocoa in half of the dough to create “black” (sort of) dough then mix together to make some striped cookies like the zebra.
Materials: A copy of my Alphabet Chart (from Letter A day displayed on your fridge or on a bulletin board), a copy of the Cut-out Zz Card, markers or crayons, child-safe scissors, glue-stick, face cloth for sticky fingers.
Step 1: Lead your child to the Alphabet Chart on your fridge, bulletin board or taped to a wall and review the Letters A to Y.
Step 2: Have your child colour the Cut-out Zz Card.
Step 3: Help your child cut the letter Zz card out.
Step 4: Have your child apply glue to the back of the Zz card and glue it on the Alphabet Chart (or you can have your child use tape).
Step 5: Review what letter it is and what sound it is throughout the week by pointing to the chart.
Fill a pie plate with sand, sugar or salt and teach your child how to trace the letter Z in the sand. When you are finished tracing dump the sand in a re-sealable bag to use on another day.
Review the entire alphabet by using a set of flash cards (found at book stores, educational stores, even craft stores) or make your own by writing each letter on an individual index card.
There are many different websites that offer games for preschoolers. You can find them by looking up your child’s favorite television characters. Here are two from the Sesame Street website:
Big Bird’s Letters is a simple game because it only involves your child pressing any letter on the keyboard and then the letter appears along with a picture that starts with that letter:
Letters to Big Bird is another alphabet game to play together. In this game Big Bird literally receives a letter in his mail box and your child has to click on something on his shelf that starts with that letter:
Play “I Spy With My Little Eye” using all the letters.
This is similar to “I Spy” in that you walk around your neighborhood and try to find things that start with different letters of the alphabet. For Letter Z Day find signs that have the Letter Z in them. You can also do this while in a car or bus etc..
If you have an alphabet puzzle this theme day is the perfect time to play with it together.
Play with any other educational toys that focus on the alphabet.
Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows with a focus on teaching the alphabet.
Try to find these titles:
· Blue’s Room: Alphabet Power, Viacom International Inc., 2005 – This DVD has two episodes of blue’s Room and two of Blue’s Clues. The first two shows deal with the alphabet and the last two more with writing and reading.
· Pocket Snails: Letter Adventure, Soaring Star Productions, 2004 – These two simple shows are about three snails who live in a little boy’s pocket who help him learn the alphabet by taking photos of them in Letter Land. One show highlights the Upper Case letters and the other is identical except it showcases the Lower Case letter. There is no focus on the phonetic sounds of the alphabet in these shows but the repetition makes it a good show to reinforce letter recognition.
· Rock n’ Learn: Alphabet Exercise, Rock ‘N Learn, Inc., 2005 – this show has a song for every letter of the alphabet that also incorporates movement like S for Spin and T for Twist.
· Sesame Street: All-Start Alphabet – There’s So Much to See Between A and Z!, Sesame Workshop, 2005 – This fun DVD has capital A and Z interviewing people at a mall about the alphabet while also highlighting each letter with individual skits from the show Sesame Street. Adults might enjoy it because it includes segments with Sheryl Crow, Norah Jones, and the Dixie Chicks to name a few of the celebrities featured.
· Sesame Street: Learning About Letters, Children’s Television Workshop, 1986 – This is a great video using classic clips (that I remember as a child) throughout as Big Bird and friends search for things that start with each letter of the alphabet.
· Sharon, Lois & Bram ABC’s: alphabet sing & dance-along, elephant Records, 2003 – this one reviews the alphabet using different songs about things that start with different letters.
Z is for Zebras
Photo: C Wright
Letter “Z” Collage
Letter “Z” Collage
Zig Zag Collage
Letter tracing in sugar
Z is for zucchini
Photo: C Wright