Alphabet war! (4-6 grade, text is optional)
Name of Teacher: Roland Carlos
Class/Grade/Language Level: Elementary 4-6
Textbook and specific lesson: Works well with Hi, Friends 1 – Lesson 6 and Hi, Friends 2 – Lesson 1 (although book not required for lesson)
Goal: Get students comfortable with the alphabet
Preparation: ABC Letter Magnets (ABC picture cards can work as well, but magnets take less space and easier to move)
Class time: 30-40 minutes
Warm-Up/Review (5 minutes)
Review each letter with the students and confirm that they are able to read them correctly. I like to show the alphabet on the screen/blackboard and ask the students what letter I’m pointing to. I start at A but try to avoid going in order all the time, since most students seem to have a cursory knowledge of the Alphabet song and think that will get them through your activity. I recommend bouncing around as you work your way down the alphabet (Ex: A-B-D-C-F-E etc.). This makes them actually focus on what letter you’re pointing at rather than just reciting the song.
War (10-15 minutes)
This activity is based on the card game War, which isn’t as popular in Japan, so you may have to spend some time explaining the rules at the beginning (which is not that hard). Students may know it if you refer to the Japanese name (せんそう sensou), although even if they don’t, they still usually get excited at hearing the name.
For the version I play, I like to say that Z is the strongest letter and A is the weakest. You can use the magnets/picture cards to act as the “cards” for the game. Divide the class into two teams and pass out letters at random to the teams. Give the teams a few minutes to devise a strategy on what order they want to use their letters.
Students take turns coming up to the front and then showing the letter they have in their hands. The stronger letter wins, so the farther down the alphabet, the stronger the letter. If you included duplicate letters, you can have those letters be awarded to the winner of the next round.
I usually play this game at least 2-3 times, sometimes changing up the order so that A becomes the strongest letter and the earlier in the alphabet a letter is, the stronger it is.
Quick Touch Competition (10-15 minutes) The basis for this activity is the quick touch game, which you may have done with other vocabulary sets. In this case, the vocab set is the alphabet. Place magnets/picture cards in a random assortment on the blackboard. Two students will come up at a time and after you say a given letter, the first student to find and touch it is the winner.
However, what I like to do for this is to devise a bracket on the spot so it becomes a tournament of sorts for the students. There are many variations that can take place here to ensure students play multiple times, such as making it a best of three competition, making a loser’s bracket, or giving the stronger students automatic seeds to later rounds. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, although if your class is big, you may want to preplan a bracket in advance so you don’t spend too much class time deciding who plays who.
After the bracket is in place, students come up to the front with back turned to the board and then turn around and find the letter after you’ve said it. Winners advance until one student is crowned champion!
Use this game to emphasize the similar sounding letters, such as B/V, M/N, and C/Z. Using those letters can make for some tense moments. I also like to shuffle up the letters in between matches just so students who are trying to get advantage by memorizing positions aren’t rewarded (and actually look for letters!)
Review (5 minutes) After all the games, finish up the class by reviewing the alphabet. I like to use the magnets/cards and pull out letters at random. Also set aside some time to make sure they are aware of the differences between similar sounding letters.
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