Creating a Virtual Alphabet Book: Literacy in Remote Learning

EC I: Early Childhood 4-5 year olds

Literacy, Remote Learning

When we began remote learning, we wanted to find ways to connect and create something meaningful as a class. It was important that we continued to build a community of young learners so that despite being far apart from one another, we still felt connected. One of the daily things we did was to share and check in with our students’ lives at home. We got to know our students in their own homes as they shared what they have been doing with their families. As we listened to our students’ conversations, we noticed that our families often went outside for walks. We wondered if we could use this commonality to bring together resources and conversation into our virtual and remote learning space. 

As part of our literacy curriculum, EC1 students not only engage in conversational and oral language practices but develop letter recognition. Part of the challenge in remote learning is teaching and engaging students without the classroom’s shared space and resources. Since we no longer had access to our classrooms, we had to invent and improvise by using whatever common materials students had at home. When we discovered that all our students go on walks with their families, we wondered if we could use this to engage in literacy work. 

  In the past, we’ve used clay and paint to create classroom alphabet letters that hung on our walls. Of course, with the move to remote learning, it was much harder to coordinate this. We had to develop a new way to cohesively and collectively engage in letter recognition work. We wanted to use the nature walks as opportunities for students to think, to look around their own unique environment, and find meaning during these times. First, we asked our students to collect and gather natural materials (e.g. flowers, branches, leaves, rocks, twigs, etc.) while they went on their family nature walks. Foraging for natural materials also gave children opportunities to learn how to use their immediate environment as a tool for learning. It helped us build a distanced, yet cohesive collection of classroom resources to be flexibly used in different ways (we used them to count, make patterns, to sort, to develop fine motor skills, etc.). We then assigned each student a letter; and using their own foraged collection of natural materials asked our students to construct their alphabet letter.

We were inspired by our mentor artist, Andy Goldsworthy, and asked parents to take pictures of students’ natural alphabet letters to create our very own digital alphabet book. The experience was wonderful because it allowed us to still discuss and engage in literacy work while tying these learning moments to family activities. It also allowed us to use our students’ family life as accessible opportunities for rich learning experiences.

We were inspired by our mentor artist, Andy Goldsworthy, and asked parents to take pictures of students’ natural alphabet letters to create our very own digital alphabet book. The experience was wonderful because it allowed us to still discuss and engage in literacy work while tying these learning moments to family activities. It also allowed us to use our students’ family life as accessible opportunities for rich learning experiences.

 

Rosie Torres