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September 23, 2014 Teaching Students Their Names, Birthdays, and Phone Numbers By Allie Magnuson
Grades PreK–K

    Since most kindergarteners don’t start the year knowing all their letters and numbers, it’s hard to get them to learn three important things: how to write their names, how to remember their birthdays, and how to recite their phone numbers.

    How do you teach them these concepts if you haven’t even started teaching letters and numbers?

    They may not recognize their ABCs and 123s, but children understand pictures. If they can see that letters and numbers have shapes similar to things they’ve seen in the real world, they can grasp the idea of abstract symbols much more quickly. Knowledge is built upon prior knowledge.

    The key is to find educational products that make unfamiliar shapes familiar. Unfortunately, most alphabet cards and posters feature pictures that, to a small child, have no connection to the letters. If children don’t know phonemes, what good is it to show them the letter m with a picture of a moon, or the letter x with a picture of a xylophone? And number cards are even worse. A picture of the number five, for instance, will usually show – if anything – five dots, or five bears, or five of some object. This means nothing to a child who can’t count!

    These kinds of picture cards are good for teaching beginning sounds (except x for xylophone) and counting skills, but not for letter and number recognition.

    Fortunately, there are products out there that can help you. Three choices for showing letters with similar shapes are Scholastic's Animals From A to Z set ($7.49 on sale!), Itchy’s Alphabet ($19.98 for a large set of wall cards; $12.50 for a small set or a game set), Reading Doctor ($19.99 for the app on iPad, Mac, or Android), and MnePhonics (all resources are free!) I think I got my cards from a reading program our school used a few years ago. As for numbers, I found a great set from Twinkl that I could download for free once I signed up for an account. Or you could do a Google Image search for “number shapes.”

    Click the above image to see the details.

    Give each student a folder with his or her name, birthday (name of month and the date), and phone number written in it. You’ll probably be practicing these at different times, but the folder is easy to pull out for reference. (You can add other things to this folder too, such as their last name, their address, colors, sight words, etc., to make it even more useful.)

    Depending on how you want to practice each concept — as a whole class, in small groups, or one-on-one — students can either find the matching letters/numbers on the wall or on picture cards at their tables. Small groups and one-on-one are best, because you can rearrange the cards so they’re in the right order for each child. If you don’t have time to do this yourself, these are great activities for parent helpers.





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