Reading Lesson Plan: Alphabet Letters in a Can

Alphabet PractiseObjectives:

  1. Daily practise reading the alphabet.
  2. Learning the sounds of the letters by matching tactile object to alphabet card letter.
  3. Daily practise putting the letters of the alphabet in the correct order. **
  4. Teacher visits students as they are doing their alphabet work, recording problem areas for each student, and learning where extra teaching is needed.

Materials needed for each student:

  1. Flash cards of each upper and lower case letter of the alphabet, printed by teacher, in marker, printed lengthwise, with upper case (capital letter) on top, then a line between the two letters dividing the card in half equally, with the lower case letter on the bottom.  (I re-used the cardboard from cereal boxes and used the school paper cutter to make 3 X 5 cards; reusing, plus they’re so much tougher than index cards (100 $1 at Dollarstore)
  2. In large coffee can/transparent plastic candy container (from Costco) :  Tactile objects to match each letter of the alphabet to aid in pronunciation and letter memory.
  3. Kleenex box or 2-pound coffee cans for students to store cards and items
  4. markers for students to print their name on their tissue box or on masking tape on their coffee can.
  5. room for 25-30 boxes or cans on a student-accessible window ledge, counter, or shelf  for at least 26 days, if you do a letter a day  (6 1/2 months if you do a new letter once a week).
  6. big elastics that will eventually hold 26 cards together


  1. Time is allowed daily for students to match their object with the flashcard, even though there is only a lesson when a new letter/card and item is handed out.  By the end of the 26 letters, it takes at least 30 minutes to do the matching.  At first, the student only has one card and one object.  The next lesson, they have two of each.  After the 10th lesson, they have 10 of each.  The beginning matching goes very quickly because students have only a few objects and cards to match.
  2. Lesson 1:  (matching is done together in this first lesson) The teacher gathers students together in a circle and shows them the large coffee can/see-through candy container (plastic ones from Costco work extremely well because students can see them all inside).  You can dump them out to show them all the items, if you wish.  Ask students what the item is today.  What letter do you think it starts with?  Connect the new letter with their Jolly Phonics, reviewing the action for the letter, talking about the lesson they did on it.  (eg.  “a, a, a, a, ant”, fingers crawling up your arm like an ant, “b, b, b, b”, swinging your arms like a baseball bat)  Tell students that every day (or once a week), everyone will get an alphabet card and an item.  They can then go anywhere in the room they want to do their alphabet.  Teacher shows them how they put the card down on the floor and place their item (that begins with the matching letter) on top of their card.  Tell the students they must read the letter out loud and say the name of the item out loud (eg. “A, a, apple peel).  (**Tell them that when they have more cards, they will put them all in order, then read the entire alphabet and identify all the names of their objects.)  After reading and matching, students put an elastic around their card/s and place their card/s and item/s in their kleenex box or coffee can and put it away on the ledge/counter/shelf designated for the alphabet letters. A/a could be plastic ants (from Halloween packages at Dollarstore), or dried apple peels (these smell great in their can).   The idea is to get something that starts with that letter that is free or very inexpensive because the students take the alphabet cards and items home when this project is completed, and you need to have 25-30 of each item, for each of the 26 alphabet letters, equals a lot of items and money.  Items can be asked for ahead of time in class newsletters home to parents, so collections can begin accumulating before you reach the letter you need them for. (see chart at the end for item suggestions) Stress to parents and students that you are encouraging reusing items (coffee tins, kleenex boxes, apple peels and orange peels, old birthday candles, etc.)
  3. For the next alphabet lesson, students will get their containers, with the cards and items in them, and come to the circle.  The B/b item is identified, and the first letter of the item is identified as a B/b.  Students they go off wherever they want in the room and put them in alphabetical order and match the two items.  When they are done, they put their elastic around the two cards, put the cards and items in their container and put their container in the assigned spot.
  4. MAKE IT FUN AND EXCITING:  When you get to S/s smooth stones, or Q/q quartz, you can put them in water because they look much more impressive wet 🙂 and the students love to reach in the water and choose their own.  Make the presentation of the items fun, like with the F/f feathers, you can talk about what kind of bird they belonged to, with the G/g gum, you can let them chew it up for a while (it can be kept in its paper wrapper later).  For J/j, I let students have a jelly bean to eat, plus one to use for their collection (I even tell them they can eat half of it, as long as there’s something left for the matching game).  I let them wear their I/i insect rings for a while the first day, then have them put them away later.  For L/l leaf and W/w weed, you can take students outside and let them pick one off the ground for their collection.  For W/w watermelon seeds (if you choose this one), I gave them small coloured watermelon pictures glued on the smooth metal lids from frozen juice and had them glue on some real watermelon seeds.  For R/r raisins, we talk about where raisins come from (they’re amazed they’re grapes, so we get some grapes and let them dry in the sunny windows to make our own raisins).Suggestions for ALPHABET LETTERS:
    • A/a – amethyst; plastic Halloween ants (pkg. 30, Dollarstores); apple peel
    • B/b – 3″ birchbark pieces from ground
    • C/c old birthday candles;  old playing card (from worn decks or ones missing cards); clothespin
    • D/d dinosaur sticker stuck to smooth metal lid from frozen juice (feels nice to hold; nice sensory feel; reusing)
    • E/e elastic band (an extra one, not to be used for holding cards together, unless than one gets lost)
    • F/f feather, flower, plastic fly (Halloween pkg.30, Dollarstores)
    • G/g – gum (wrapped so it is clean and has some paper to put it back into to so it doesn’t stick to everything)
    • H/h – paper party hats (from Christmas/New Years  crackers, ask parents ahead of time to save them for you)
    • I/i – insect rings (Halloween pkg.30, Dollarstores)
    • J/j – jelly beans (one to eat, one to save)
    • K/k – Kleenex tissue; kite sticker on smooth metal lid from frozen juice (reusing lids)
    • L/l – leaf (take the class outside or meet them outside just before recess is over to get one from the ground)
    • M/m – macaroni pasta
    • N/n – nail (ask parents or hardware stores for donations, finishing nails are tiny, or reuse old, bent nails)
    • O/o – dried orange peel (oranges with the thick skins or they bring in their own Christmas orange peels)
    • P/p – paper clip, pen, pencil, pretzel (careful of nut allergies)
    • Q/q – quartz (easy to find these small white rocks at the beach or on some driveways)
    • R/r – raisin, rice
    • S/s – smooth stone, shell, stick (might confuse with twig), plastic snakes (small ones from Dollarstores)
    • T/t – ticket (from rolls at Dollarstore for penny auctions, or reuse old ones); teabag (dried out used ones)
    • U/u – umbrella sticker (or pictures glued onto smooth metal lids from frozen juice)
    • V/v – pink or red Valentine hearts cut from scraps of paper (reusing), students can cut their own out
    • W/w – watermelon seeds (students glue them on pictures glued onto smooth metal lids from frozen juice)
    • X/x – skeleton stickers (from Halloween Dollarstores), explain how you see bones in an x-ray
    • Y/y – 4″ pieces of yellow yarn (ask knitting/crocheting parents for a little bit of leftover yellow yarn to share)
    • Z/z – zebra stickers  or pictures stuck on smooth metal lids from frozen juice

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