Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our Advent Word Wall: A Simple and Beautiful Way to Integrate Learning Every Day

When I designed our Advent plan for simply living, learning and loving during this season, I envisioned a beautiful Advent alphabet border stretching down our hallway.  

As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  When I witness my children merrily practicing the stokes of a letter, smiling as they sketch a picture of a key word or bouncing with excitement as they come up with another word to add to our list each day, I can think of nothing more beautiful than the simple border we are making.

My eyes don't see the print through the recycled paper we are using, nor the ways the border could be more visually appealing if approached in another way.  Instead, I observe the wonder of my children learning and the pride they take each time we add another day's letter to the wall.  That, in my opinion, makes our Advent word wall a masterpiece.

Integrating Our Advent World Wall into Our Day

Every day, I ask the children if they can guess what the letter of the day is.  Now that we have a few letters up on our wall, Nina sometimes goes over to it to sing along until she can guess.  Luke, on the other hand, usually just shouts out a letter.

Once we have announced the letter, we explore its sound through repeating the sounds the letter makes in songs or chants, often with impromptu actions.  Then, I share some key Advent-themed words that begin with the letter, or have the children guess them by giving clues about how the word plays into Advent or the story of Jesus' birth.  We write these words in purple (for Advent) on a half sheet of paper and, then, try to fill the rest of the sheet with other words that begin with the letter.

As we read the books of the day, we listen for other words that start with our letter of the day and add those to the list as well.

We also practice writing the letter, either using copies of our Handwriting without Tears workbook, personal dry-erase boards or an easel chalkboard.

After the children feel comfortable writing the letter, they take turns writing the capital and lower-case version on a half sheet of paper and illustrating around it with key word sketches.  This sheet is hung in the hallway along with our word list.

Throughout the day, we key into other skills as we walk by the word list.  For example, since both children are still working on the concepts of "columns" and "rows" for Math, I sometimes ask them to find a specific letter or word in the __ column of the __ list.  For literacy, I ask Nina to slap the letter called __ or the one that makes the sound __, and I ask Luke to point to the word __ or to read x number of words from the __ list for me.  I also have them refer to the Wall when they ask me how to write specific words or letters, or they do so voluntarily on their own.

Indeed, we have been finding our Advent Word Wall a simple, yet effective anchor for our Advent explorations this year.  Not only do we have fun adding the next letter of the alphabet each day, but we also discover new ways to many quick, but valuable visits to it in order to both expand and consolidate learning.

We'd welcome your ideas on how we might continue to enjoy our Advent Word Wall.


Beth ( said...

What a wonderful learning idea! Thanks for linking up to TGIF! See you next week,
Beth =-)

Carolyn said...

LOVE this idea!!! I have been on a hunt this year to figure out how to incorporate more of Jesus into our learning and this is a great way!! Thanks so much for sharing!!


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