Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Magnetic Letters & Cognitive Development: Teaching Colors, Part 3
This is the third of a progressive series of posts that we will be featuring on the Hameray Blog every Thursday for 10 weeks (Read   Part 1   and   Part 2 ). It's authored by special guest blogger Paula Dugger, who is an educational consultant with a rich-literacy background that includes serving as a Reading Recovery Teacher/Teacher Leader, first grade teacher, Title I and high school reading teacher, as well as a Reading Coordinator. Hameray is thrilled to be able to share with you Paula's classroom-tested ideas and experience in helping young learners achieve their early literacy goals.

Magnetic Letters and Cognitive Development
Activities using magnetic letters can help in cognitive development both consciously and unconsciously in young children. The letters are colorful, three-dimensional, and they lend themselves to movement and touch. Letters are a part of the print we see around us in the world. Using soft foam letters (Hameray offers a great set of   uppercase   and   lowercase   foam letters), children can learn many skills:

                  -To categorize by sorting, matching, and classifying

                  -To differentiate colors, shapes, and letters

                  -The concept of letters by name, sight, shape, and sound

                  -The concept of words by sight or by putting together sounds to form words

As mentioned last week, my series of guest blogs is on specific activities that use magnetic letters to help with the cognitive development of preschoolers. No activity should exceed five to ten minutes depending upon the age, ability, and interest of the child. These activities should be seen as fun games, and each will be a little more rigorous than the one before. The blogs will be divided into four groups:

                  -Teaching colors

                  -Teaching similarities and differences (or comparing and contrasting)

                  -Teaching the alphabet (letter names)

                  -Word analysis (making words)

  Lesson #1: Teaching Colors

Colors are among the first ways young children make distinctions between things in the world. Color words are also some of the first words used to describe things. Whenever you introduce a task, make sure the child understands what to do. Below is a great framework that demonstrates how to scaffold an activity by modeling and gradually releasing the activity to the child.

Materials used in this Activity: Lowercase Foam Magnetic Letters and Magnetic Whiteboard

Activity 3:    Sorting letters by identifying color names

Step 1: Place 10-15 letters of various colors out for the child to see.

Step 2: Ask the child to touch each letter and tell you what color it is.


Step 3: Repeat with each letter that you have on the board. If a child appears to struggle with a particular color, return to that color more frequently, offering hints to help him or her remember.

Today's activity dealt with helping children to sort letters by identifying color names—asking the child to point to a letter and tell you what color it is. The earlier activities in our lesson on teaching colors included   having a child identify letters of a certain color when you give him or her the color name , and   teaching how to sort items (in this case, letters) by color into groups   that match. These tasks aid the cognitive development of young children, teaching them important sorting and categorization skills and familiarizing them with color names and the shapes of letters.

- Paula Dugger

Paula Dugger has a B.S., M.Ed., and Reading Specialist Certification from The University of Texas at Austin and Reading Recovery training through Texas Woman’s University. Paula does educational consulting and training through Dugger Educational Consulting, LLC and can be contacted at np.dugger@att.net

Paula and her husband Neil are parents to two wonderful daughters, Alicean and Ashley, two son-in-laws Kevin and Patrick, and grandparents to Carter. She also raises registered Texas Longhorns on the weekends. The longhorn cattle are featured in her first book published by Hameray Publishing Group, titled   Longhorns .

If you'd like to order some magnetic foam letters to try out this activity for yourself, you can find them on the  Hameray website . If you're teaching at this stage of literacy, you might also be interested in the Letter Buddies books. Click on the images below to see some key features of the series!