Language Development: Creating an Alphabet Sounds Class Book

I love publishing ebooks with my students. My Kindergarten class just finished collaborating on an Alphabet Sounds Book where each page is dedicated to a letter of the alphabet. This idea was inspired by a tweet from Beverley Babbage. Thank you! To get us started, we read The Icky Bug Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta and Ralph Masiello. We decided that the topic of our book should be food and began by brainstorming different foods for each letter of the alphabet. I helped by writing the foods on the board and by naming a food beginning with “U” and another with  “X”. The students easily named several food items for each of the other 24 letters.

This project was an opportunity to build on the work done in the classroom by promoting letter and sound identification. In the classroom, students learn that words consist of small units of sound, or phonemes. Those phonemic awareness skills are important as they allow students to decode words on their own.

We created our class book using the Book Creator app for iPad. The app makes it easy enough for students to work on separate devices. Once finished, all pages can then be combined into one book.

The requirements for each page included the name of the food, typed initial letters in both upper- and lowercase, writing the letter using the app’s pen tool, drawing a picture of the food and, finally, recording themselves saying the sound, the letter, and the word. The students enjoyed playing with the fonts and color options and are very proud of their work. They’d love to read your comments!

Now–can you name a food that starts with X?


ChatterPix: Creative Assessment in the Lower Grades


I recently came across a really fun and free iOs app called ChatterPix by Duck Duck Moose. The app allows you to take a photo, add an animated mouth, and then record up to 30 seconds of audio to make the image talk. Here’s the official description:

ChatterPix Description

Our Kindergarten students recently studied panda bears, so the simplicity of ChatterPix seemed the perfect tool to allow the students to share their learning. With their Kindergarten teacher, Arlene Yegelwel, each student had created a panda picture made of pieces of black construction paper and cotton balls. To create the ChatterPix, students took a photo of their panda bears, with their fingers drew a line across the image to create the panda’s mouths, and then recorded what they had learned about panda bears in class. The final products were saved to the Camera Roll and then uploaded to our school’s Vimeo account. This was a super fun and easy way to assess learning while practicing oral language skills.

I also used ChatterPix with our 1st grade students to record a Chanukkiah song. In Hebrew class, the kids had created Chanukkiahs from pasta in various shapes and sizes glued to wooden boards and then spray-painted in gold. Using the ChatterPix app, the students each took a photo of their creations, drew a line for an imaginary mouth, and recorded a song. While I don’t speak Hebrew, the students’ teacher was able to use the recordings as a quick assessment of student pronunciation and usage of word endings indicating feminine and masculine word endings.

A couple of days ago two of my 4th grade students were playing around with ChatterPix. One of them had heard about it from her younger sibling. I love that the app is not only simple to use but allows students to be creative–as well as inspires students to have a go at it for extracurricular purposes. And for teachers, it is definitely an easy assessment tool.

Born Digital

Recently, I had the pleasure of working closely with our Kindergarten teacher and her students. The students are currently learning all about bar graphs. As part of their learning, their teacher helped them create a two-question online survey: 1) What is your favorite ice cream flavor? and 2) Where do you live? The kids created a survey in Google Forms. My job was to introduce the students to Twitter and help them formulate a Tweet asking fellow Tweeters around the globe to participate in the survey.


I have been thinking about the students’ response to my question: What are some ways we communicate? Their answers included Facetime, texting, and Skype (in that order). Not only was I was struck by their answers, but even more so by what they did not say: The students did not mention email as a means of communication and when asked how they would get a picture they had drawn to their grandparents, they did not mention snail mail.  But, on the other hand, when I pointed to that little blue bird, a couple of students could tell me that it represented Twitter.

My 14-year old son and his friends recently told me that they don’t really use Facebook–because it is for “older people” (i.e., us). Instead, you can find them on Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine (neither are my social media turf).

Like you, I am a digital immigrant not a native, and I’m trying to keep up. Our kids are growing up with forms of communication that were unimaginable when we were children. And the pace of technology change is increasing.  When our Kindergarten students know Twitter but not regular mail, times have changed. But of course, they know nothing different (for now). Emphasizing the rudiments of all communication regardless of format, however, remains the key to early learning and literacy: community, respect, and the ability to listen. It is so enjoyable to hear from our youngest students all the new ways they communicate with the world.