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In the first year of SBCA’s preschool program, I have worked to make the alphabet come to life for our youngest students. Creating a strong literary foundation that students will continue to build upon throughout their schooling is vital for their reading development. Each week, we have focused on one letter – practicing the formation of the letter, the letter’s sound, and reading stories that relate to that letter. Most often, these stories and corresponding crafts revolve around different animals. We made alligators for “Aa” Week, cats for “Cc” Week, and ate donuts for a special “Dd” Week snack, among many other memorable experiences.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve worked to weave Advent and Christmas preparations into our letter of the week activities. Even though we had discussed “Gg” a few weeks ago, I had to bring it back for G is for Gingerbread Week. This week has brought many moments of learning, exploration, and joy to life for our littlest learners. Throughout the week, we read a few different gingerbread books (all with different twists on the classic tale), including The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aytesworth; Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett; and The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst. After we read, we discussed the similarities and differences between these popular Christmas-time tales, including their characters and settings.

When we weren’t reading, we were making gingerbread people out of paper and other craft supplies. We even chased a gingerbread man that had gotten lose all around the playground!

A high point of G is for Gingerbread Week was undoubtedly the decorating of each student’s very own gingerbread man (or girl). Families so generously donated lots of fun baking materials and candy to help each child’s gingerbread dreams come to life. Prior to the decorating, we brainstormed some different things we could create for our gingerbread people (hair, clothes, shoes) and gathered inspiration from the illustrations of the stories we read. While creating, children discussed the colors and shapes of their treats, counted out various supplies, and shared many wonderful ideas. The final products were nothing short of masterpieces!

I truly believe that these hands-on, practical experiences do more for children in helping them learn their letters than flashcards and worksheets could (though there is surely a time and place for those too). This is proven in the letter identification progress they’ve made as a class, only one-third of the way through the school year – and halfway through the alphabet! I am so proud of each and every student’s success so far this year and I hope they’ll cherish these memories and moments as dearly as I do.

Author: Lauren Grant, Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

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