Have you even given a five year old a clip board? If the answer is no, then you need to try it! Believe me, it’s a game changer!
About 3 years ago my admin came to me and said that the division was coming to take promotional photos of Kindergarten in our classrooms. Normally, I would be super excited about that, however they were coming on December 15th, right in the middle of all the holiday themed activities. Where’s the problem? They stipulated that they didn’t want anything that was theme specific (aka not Christmas related stuff because they would be using these pictures throughout the year). I immediately started panicking. I have lots of different literacy activities, but I was so in the depths of holiday mode my brain could not think of anything that would be suitable. Up until the day before I was still unsure what I would do. It was when one of my kiddos (who spoke no English) asked what a piece of winter clothing was called that it hit me! We would write about/label winter clothes. (ps it was a neck warmer).
The next day, I made up labels for all the winter clothes, made a quick recording sheet (with images that match the labels), borrowed a bin of clipboards from our gym teacher and placed my winter clothes around the room with the labels. That was it…super simple set up. Before we started the hunt I read the kids the book The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, by Shirley Neitzel , and we had a quick chat about the different clothes in the book. Then, I handed them their clipboards and pencils and prayed to the teacher gods that it would work. Not only was this something we had never done before, there was also a man with a camera taking pictures of us doing the activity that would be seen by all the families starting Kindergarten the next year in our division (they were taking promo photos for the information new families registering for Kindergarten).
No pressure what so ever…but guess what?
THEY LOVED IT!
Seriously – it was amazing! The kids were so engaged and excited! After that, I was all about the clip board activities. Number hunts, word hunts, colour hunts. I realized the magic of a clipboard to a 5 year old! Another great thing about clip board activities is that for those kids that cannot sit still (I’m sure all you teachers and picturing that little wiggle bum in your class…or several wiggle bums) it’s a great activity! They are encouraged to get up and move around! They can stand, sit, or even lay down to write! It’s a great way to combine learning with a kinaesthetic activity!
This discovery led to my Letter Hunts. Which is the actual point of this post…if you haven’t realized yet, I’m one of those people that tends to wander off topic before getting to the point.
So, the Letter Hunt. It was a lot of work to set up, but now that I have it all put together it’s an awesome easy activity (aka perfect for when you have a sub!!)) and at this point the majority of my kids can complete the whole activity in 15-20 minutes! (I usually give them 30 minutes for those that need longer).
For each letter of the alphabet I found 10 photos of things that start with that letter (I used google to find the majority of the pictures…so, I do not have the copyright to these pictures and therefore can’t share the whole set online, sorry. I will post one letter set so you can see how I made them. I wanted to post the blank Publisher document but it won’t let me 😦 ). I chose to use photos instead of clip art, as I think it makes the experience more authentic for the students. Another reason was I couldn’t really find clip art (for free) that had all the objects I needed that had a similar style. So, photos it was!
I made cards that are about 5″x”3 and typed the label beneath each word. I used upper case letters (see my previous post about why I use upper case) in a simple font (comic sans…even though I admit it’s not my favourite – it has the same formation of letters as HWT and therefore it’s the one I use the most when working at school). I printed the cards in colour and then laminated them (usually after I used them as I was making the letter sets as I was teaching them).
I then created a recording sheet with the same photos and a blank space for the kids to write the words.
Once all of that is prepped, it’s just a matter of putting the pictures up and the papers on the clipboards!
Before we do a hunt, I always go over the rules:
- no running/ move safely around the room
- talking voices
- you can help a friend, but you can’t do it for them (I had one little that was so busy “helping” his friends (aka doing it for them) he never completed his own work!)
- Do your best!
And that’s it! Super simple and SO engaging! The kids know what to do now, and I rarely at this point have to help anyone (makes me feel a little redundant, but proud that they are so independent).
I have one little guy that really struggles with fine motor, so for him I write the words in yellow highlighter. It has really helped him feel successful! I told him that if I was going to do “the yellow” (as he calls it) for him, I expected that he would still go and find each word and write the letters like everyone else (he just had an added helper) and he totally has! He loves this activity and is so excited he is able to complete it without an adult helping him (even though he has help – he doesn’t see it that way which is another bonus for me).
The Letter Hunt is one of my kids favourite activities! They get so excited when they come into the room and see the cards. I have to almost have to corral them so they don’t find all the words before we start!
Here is a copy of the Letter A Hunt, if you want to try it out for yourself before you go and make a full set! A PICTURES
Something I also do with this activity, is swap out some of the pictures if I have a student who starts with that letter. I used publisher to create these files, so it’s quite easy to change a picture on the recording sheet. I have cards we use for our morning greetings (that have the students name and picture on them) that are a similar size to the letter hunt cards, so I just grab one of those and stick it up with the other letters. The kids are so excited to find their friends pictures around the room!
If you are doing this – it’s a good idea to laminate the cards! There were a few last year that I didn’t and I had to reprint them this year because there’s always that one kid that decides they can improve the picture with their own art 😡
By the way all of my clipboards are from the dollar store!! In the beginning I borrowed them from our gym teachers, but after the success of that first hunt, I realized I needed my own set! I have 26 boards (I think) and the kids love them! They even take them out during playtime now. An added bonus, according to our school PT, writing on a a vertical surface is really good for fine motor development, and therefore clipboards are a great way to help those kids who need to strengthen those little hands! Woot Woot!
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!