Kevin is a little boy from my first year I don’t see much. This year he’s in second grade and I’m quite friendly with his teacher. We chat about him and I’m always amazed at how far he’s come. I saw him in the hallway last week and he asked if I’d come listen to him read. Is there anything better than an invite from a child to listen to reading?
Here’s a story from my first year describing how Kevin learned the letter Q. It was a challenge for us both, but we eventually figured it out.
Letter identification is a big hill to climb for many kindergartners. Some kids come in knowing all the letters; others know a few, and some know none. This year, most of my students have learned their letters (and even their sounds!) pretty quickly. By this time of the year, just about all my students know their letters… except a few.
Kevin is one friend who really struggles with his letters. He’s one of the most affectionate students I’ve ever had. He asks the other kids for hugs all the time… he asks me for a hug – usually five or six times a day.
Armed with a bucket of Play-Dough, I grabbed my tub of letter cutters and took Kevin over to my table.
“Kevin, pick a letter from the tub… you can pick any letter you want.” I said.
He reached in the plastic tub and felt around. He wasn’t really looking at the letters, more feeling for one he seemed to like. He pulled out the capital ‘Q’ – a good choice since I knew it was one of the many letters he didn’t know.
“Do you know what letter that is?” I asked him.
He shook his head.
“This is a capital ‘Q’ – we’re going to make one now.” I explained.
A big smile came across his face.
He then went to work, rolling, pinching, kneading, and pounding the Play-Dough so it would be ready for cutting. Kevin made the big Q and then handed it to me. I took it gently in my hand and then took his hand and had him trace the letter in my hand. I could tell all this touching was really making him happy. I was hopeful it was helping him learn.
As he traced the letter, I said, “This is a ‘Q’ – I want you say ‘Q’ as you trace it with your fingers.”
And he did.
Finally I had him hold the letter and do the same thing with his other hand.
“Q, Q, Q, Q, Q, Q, Q…” he repeated.
When he finished, he asked if I’d take a picture of him holding the Q. I grabbed my camera and snapped away.
“Do you want me to print the picture out for you?” I inquired.
“No. I just want you to remember when I learned my Q.”