To teach literacy is to change lives

Tool of the Month

Magnetic Letter Trays

Magnetic Letters

Teaching Tip by Michèle Dufresne, Ed.D., Literacy specialist

Did you know that magnetic letters are a powerful literacy learning tool? Magnetic letters can help build alphabet fluency and support advanced readers in learning decoding skills.

Here are a few activities for beginning readers:

  1. Write a student’s name on a card and have them make their name with magnetic letters. Repeat until they can do this without the model.
  2. Have students match upper- and lowercase letters.
  3. Have students sort letters by the letters that are tall or round.
  4. Have students match the letters to the ABC Chart Card.

Once students know their letters, you can begin to use magnetic letters for word study/decoding activities. Organize the magnetic letters on letter trays to help you prepare for and quickly clean up word study lessons quickly. Students will learn alphabetical order by finding and returning letters to the tray.

Here are a few activities you can use the trays and letters for:

  1. Making Words: Have students take a set of letters they will need to make new words (for example, remove a, c, m, n, s, and t). Tell students to use three letters and make cat. Then have them change it to make can, man, mat, and sat.
  2. Breaking Words: Write a word on the dry-erase easel and have students take a set of letters they will need to make that word. Have them break the word apart into known parts (for example, splinter: spl-in-ter). Repeat with one or two more similar words.
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Guided writing is a
part of every Literacy
Footprints lesson.

It provides a supported
opportunity for students to
gain additional experience
writing about text.